Friday, 19 December 2014

Fuente de Piedra

Thursday 18 December
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocehala (PHOTO: Dave Jefferson)

A beautiful sunny start to the day with clear blue skies and a temperature of 14C when I left home for the monthly field meeting of the Axarquia Bird Group at Fuente de Piedra.  By the time I got to Antequera the temperature had dropped to 3 and just a little further on bottomed out at 1C.  Could things get any worse?  They certainly could as I then encountered a dense mist which had not really cleared by the time I reached Fuente.  So much for arriving early to take a look at the flooded field on the left as all I could see was a damp grey field with a low-lying mist and dark shadows moving across the still waters.  On the other hand, by the time we eventually moved of from the car park at about 10.15 the mist had started to lift and eighteen members had joined me for what proved to be a most enjoyable morning.  Most birds were seen by most members and our combined total for the session reached 57 and, I have no doubt, somebody will email in to tell what I have missed from the list!

The Jackdaws seemed to be the first birds to recover from the early mist and closely followed by the resident House Sparrows and a few Spotless Starlings.  Next up a couple of Collared Doves and then it was time to take a look over the scrape and main water to see what was resting and/or feeding below.  Lots of Shovelers and a few Teal plus the ever-present Mallards along with a relatively small number of Coots and Moorhens.  All the Flamingos, save one juvenile on the lagunetta at the back, were at the far end and probably totalled about a couple of thousand.  No shortage of Gulls, mainly Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed but also some of the Yellow-legged variety but just the single wafer, a sole Ringed Plover, other than the wintering Lapwings.

Female Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros
From the mirador in front of the Visitors Centre we were able to see a range of little brown jobs in and out of the bushes including Stonechats, Black Redstarts, Blackcaps and Sardinian Warblers.  In due course this are also produced a Zitting Cisticola, Corn Buntings and Crested Larks along with White Wagtails near the water and a single Water Pipit.

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (PHOTO: Dave Jefferson)
The lagunetta proved, as usual, to be quite reliable with close views of Shoveler, Mallard, Teal and Pochard along with both Little and Black-necked Grebes.  A couple of Marsh Harriers made a pass over the water, but not the male that had been previously seen from the above mirador, and a distant bird perched in the mist over the distant gate had a rather surreal look about it.  Lots of Goldfinches, StonechatsWhite Wagtails and Black Redstarts in front of the hide plus a lovely view of a Meadow Pipit and then the arrival of a Spanish Sparrow immediately in front if many was an added bonus.  Nearer the water we had a s many as eight Snipe foraging on the bank and then the arrival of about a dozen Black-winged Stilts.  Just the one Green Sandpiper when we first arrived. But, possibly, pride of place went to the Little Owl that refused to fly away so that all present were able to take a close look - both through bins and scopes, and then the first of a couple of Blackbirds as we departed.

Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: Dave Jefferson)
Snipe Gallinego gallinago (PHOTO: Dave Jefferson)
The walk to the causeway produced nothing in addition to the species seen before other than a single Southern Grey Shrike and a Little Egret but, on reaching the now visible flooded field, a single
Gadwall and a Kingfisher that dashed over the road and disappeared never to be seen again.

Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops
Cars sorted, we then set out to drive the anti-clockwise route round the laguna stopping at all the miradors but not before a Sparrowhawk had flown over above us in the car park and a resting Buzzard greeted us on the first electricity pylon once we had reached the road.  Nothing to be seen from the Vicaria but approaching Cantarannas we came across the wintering Cranes with a total of 220 feeding in the field to our right.  From the mirador we looked down on more of the same ducks but we also able to add both a Herons and a Purple Swamphen.  A very distant and high Sparrow hawk was also noted and in the olives grove below a pair of Red-legged Partridge were scurrying along between the trees.  It was also here that we got the first real view of the thousand or so Flamingos out on the lake.  Both Serin and Cetti's Warbler along with Greenfinch had already been seen by some and then, at last, conformation of a Common Sandpiper.

A small section of the feeding 220 Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus
Continuing on round the water, a stop at the recently-opened Mirador Las latas produced another Southern Grey Shrike and a Hen Harrier plus a single Linnet and then, on reaching the old ruin on the far side, not a possible Little Owl but a pair of Hoopoes.  A Kestrel flew over.  This ruin sits in the middle of a pair of fields that can usually be relied upon to produce Stone Curlews if present and we were not to be disappointed with the sight of at least 24 birds, about eight resting and another sixteen flying away.  What a way to end a glorious morning's birding in great company and glorious weather.

Stone Curlew  Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Greater Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler,Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Staling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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