Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Fuente de Piedra and Laguna Dulce

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Tuesday 9 December

Back in the proverbial saddle at last and out birding for the morning.  I needed some stamps and had to post a load of letters so rather than dropping down to Torre del Mar I drove over to Fuente de Piedra and then followed on round to the Laguna Dulce near Campillos.  Dry and clear but very windy when I left Lake Vinuela, sent off by a couple of Thekla Larks and a most handsome male Black Redstart at the bottom of the track, but almost calm upon arrival.

Looking at the laguna from atop the railway bridge, it was obvious that the recent rainfall had started to flood the filed on the left and below the wooden causeway.  The lagunetta seemed full as it had been for most of the summer but whereas there was now some water in the scrapes below the Visitors Centre the main laguna looked very sad and in desperate need of some water.

The flooded field held a good flock of Teal along with a few Shoveler and Coots with large flocks of Spotless Starlings swirling around and a dozen or so of feeding Crag Martins.  Indeed, Crag Martins seemed to be feeding over all the available sheets of water.  On the far bank the first sight of the local Jackdaws.  However, closer inspection as I made my way round to the back revealed that the "Annual Jackdaw Convention" must have been in session as I stopped counting when I reached 150!

Just two of over an hundred Jackdaws Grajilla Corvus monedula
Needless to say there were House Sparrows present and on the main water good numbers of both resting Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls.  Scoping the edges of the, mainly, dried up laguna I came across a pruning Marsh Harrier and at the very edge of the water a small flock of scurrying Sanderlings.  There were plenty, maybe a thousand or more, Greater Flamingos present but they were almost exclusively at the far end.  The grassy area just beyond the scrape held both a couple of White Wagtails and a small number of Meadow Pipits.

Reaching the small lagunetta at the rear of the Visitors Centre I found a small number of Coots along with even fewer Mallards and Shovelers but about a dozen Common Pochards.  At least eight Little Grebes were present but neither Black-necked nor Great Crested Grebes.  A single Hoopoe made a hasty retreat as I arrived but there were plenty Stonechats about along with a few Chiffchaffs and a male Sardinian Warbler.  On the water a small number of gulls arrived but soon left when the Kestrel few over to be replaced by a handful of Black-winged Stilts.

The pair of Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Working my way back along the edge of the laguna I found good numbers of Moorhens and, suddenly, a quintet of Red-legged Partridges flew up from almost under my feet. It was as I was driving out of the reserve that I found a pair of Snipe huddled up together at the edge of the roadside pond.

A feeding family of Common Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus

Stopping at the Mirador de Cantarannas I discovered where all the Flamingos were gathered along with nine Cranes in the pool immediately below me.  I even manage to find a couple of Grey Herons sheltering in the reeds.  But, on the other side of the road in a familiar field, I counted a further fifty-five Cranes in mainly one large group but a small family of three nearer to me.  Looking at the birds I also noticed a Raven on the grass which, a little later on, departed to my left.  A pair of Crested Larks added to the totals list and then on to the Laguna Dulce.

Anyone for a Coot Focha Comun Fulica atra?
Whilst the Dulce appeared to have plenty of water the same could not be said of the birds present. No more than a hundred Coots in total, many on the bank below me to the left, and no sign of any grebes.  A few Mallards and as many as a dozen Gadwall spread over the back of the water and feeding in pairs.  To the far right the sight of a flock of eight Red-crested Pochards which seemed evenly split by sex.  A Cetti's Warbler let off a brief blast from the reeds to my left and that was about it, if you include both Collared and Rock Doves.

But, at least, I was welcomed back to the mountain by a lively male Blue Rock Thrush.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Sanderling, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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