The Annual Finance Meeting of the Andalucía Bird Society at Fuente de Piedra this morning so Jenny and I left early enough to call in at the Laguna Dulce before arriving at the Visitors Centre to join other members of the Society. Much rain overnight and quite cloudy as we set off. As we travelled on the high road towards Casabermeja we had more light rain but could see signs of a break in the cloud which promised better weather to come - not that you would think that as we climbed up towards the cloud over Antequera. However, once down on the plain the clouds broke up and, for the most part, the day became not only dry but quite warm and pleasant with some lovely sunshine, providing you could keep out of the strong, cold breeze.
The journey over to Laguna Dulce produced numerous White Wagtails on just about every road plus the first charm of Goldfinches as I passed through Los Romanes. A couple of Rock Doves and the a Little Owl resting on the telephone wires half-way to the motorway. Arriving at the water we were greeted by a handful of Moorhens scurrying across the lay-by to reach the shelter of the laguna along with more Goldfinches and even a few Chaffinches.
|And then the Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus passed over the hide.|
Meanwhile we did find raptors including a hovering Kestrel and a couple of Marsh Harriers. However, the distinctive "honking" from behind the hide had us both up and out in the open to see a fly-past of about seventy Common Cranes. Whilst these birds seemed to be heading for Fuente de Piedra we did, nevertheless, find a large group of about one hundred and sixty grazing on the far, green, field to the right of the ruined far. Meanwhile, immediately in front of the hide, the occasional sight of a scavenging Chiffchaff.
|One of very many Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita|
|The Crane family; Mum feeding, Dad ever-watchful and the youngster just plain inquisitive.|
A walk to the hide overlooking the laguneta at the back produced more of the same but mainly Shoveler and Pochard by way of ducks. On the other hand, I did pick up a pair of Gadwall. Black-headed Gulls were about along with dozens of feeding Chiffchaff. Also nearby, both a Stonechat and a Black Redstart.
Walking back along the water's edge towards the wooden walkway we also recorded a trio of Meadow Pipits on the edge of the scrape. Then, as we approached the wooden bridge, a single Barn Swallow flew past immediately in front of us, the first seen this year. All that was found on the far side was a long-hovering Kestrel that eventually dropped on his victim - but came away empty-handed, or should I say "empty footed?"
|Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus|
|Cranes a plenty on the horizon plus an "After you, Cecil" below.|
The final loop round the water and back to Fuente de Piedra did not produced the expected large flock of roosting Stone Curlews, just a pair that were working their way along the back edge of the field on the left having, along with the main group, probably been disturbed by the passing walkers who had their small dogs with them. The village itself duly turned up more Spotless Starlings and a Jackdaw and, with cloud once more returning, we made our way back home. Only 41 species recorded but at lest the total included five near species for the year so the 2014 total has now reached 96 and still a few days left to reach the "ton" before the end of January!
|Could this be the first four-legged Common Crane?|
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.