The one thing I have discovered about this part of Spain is that when you get heavy rain, especially when accompanied by string winds, you get power cuts. Imagine my surprise, therefore when come Friday morning we had lost no power so went up to the studio to start on the blog. I obviously spoke too soon as a power line had come down further inland and taken out my Internet provider so no access to the computer until Friday afternoon. Problem solved and most of blog completed then came upstairs this morning, Saturday, and discovered that, once more, the Internet connection was lost. Back on line now at just after ten o'clock so hoping to crack on and finish the job whilst the sun shines on outside the windows!
|The gang's all here - including our furry fried who seemed the least interested of all!|
Christmas almost upon us and time for the last field visit of the year; as for the past three or more years to that wonderful oasis to the far north-west of the province of Malaga, Funete de Piedra. Any visit to this large lagoon at this time of the year must be, in addition to the Greater Flamingos of which there were still thousands to be seen, to record those most graceful of large winter visitors, the Common Crane Grus grus. Of course, one would also like to see Stone Curlews and other delightful species and on all accounts we fifteen were not to be disappointed. It was lovely to see both Gerry and Leslie Collins make the long journey over from Salobrena and then we also had travelling with them, the pleasure of meeting a first-time participant, Diana Porter. Eric and Pat Lyon made the journey over from Sayalonga and Marcus and Liz Routes travelling down the mountain from Competa were kind enough to collect Dan Wilkinson and Brian Green from Triana on their way. For David and Janet Fisher living in Antequera it was almost a "hop down to the shops" living so relatively close whereas Steve Powell travelled from distant Frigiliana which just left me from Lake Vinuela. But not quite, as we were delighted to welcome visiting Christine and Paul Stockton from Chester who also gave a holiday home in Gaucin so not there first visit to this wonderful site.
|One of the numerous White Wagtails Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba seen during the day|
I left home without a cloud in the sky and all was calm. Scores of White Wagtails and the resident Thekla Larks everywhere and then, within fifteen minutes the dense cloud arrived giving a very ominous look to the skies as I headed towards Casabemerja and the motorway to Antiquera. Rain was promised for the afternoon but I am pleased to report that we managed a great day's birding in calm weather, if somewhat cloudy, and only when we finally left the local restaurant after our Menu del Dia did we notice that the wet stuff had arrived during our meal. Not only rain; by the time I got home it was pouring and the winds were very much on the increase leading to a very windy night (literally and not as a result of the garlic!) and, whilst we kept our electricity supply, the Internet was down due to a fallen wire and/or cable further inland which took out our supplier for most of the next day. Hence the lateness of this posting; well, that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!
|Distant Shelducks Tarro Blanco Tadoma tadoma (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|The arrival of the Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus (PHoto below: Steve Powell)|
Approaching the first, open, hide a small number of Serins, Golfinch and a female Balckcap were seen and then the first of a few Moorhens. Coots were also picked up at the back of the reserve along, from the main hide, a few Little Grebes plus a single Black-necked Grebe. Lots of Black Redstarts to be seen (they seem to be everywhere at the moment) along with a small number of House Sparrows and distant Rock Doves but the best reward was finding the solitary Little Owl trying to hide in a small bush immediately in front of us.
|(PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
Returning towards the car park we crossed the long footbridge to take a closer look at the ploughed field containing the recently restored electricity tower, complete with Kestrel perched on the side of the roof. The dry bushes in front of us quickly produced more Goldfinches and Serins and then a couple of Reed Buntings as they moved across the top. To the left a small flock of Meadow Pipits were foraging and then a handful of Corn Buntings joined in the fray. Meanwhile, away to the front and right, more Jackdaws to be seen and a couple of wandering Lapwings but close searching and first seen by Pat Lyon, produced the target bird, a single Stone Curlew standing high, which in itself was most unusual. The more expected result was the individual so low on the ground that, for most, it would simply be passed over as another clump of dead grass.
|Spot the Stone Curlew Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|(PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|Distant record shot of Black-winged Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus|
|And so good-bye to the Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus until 2014|
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.