Monday, 19 January 2015

Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

Saturday 17 January

Strange old day on Saturday.  Jenny and left our mountain top at Casa Collada in clear blue skies and sunshine, collected Quentin and Judith Hill at Casabermeja and then travelled on tot he January field meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society commencing at Laguna Dulce on the outskirts of Campillos.  Thick mist as we came over the hills towards Antequera and then found a cold laguna with the light far from good and not much better when we later drove on round to Fuente de Piedra. However, following lunch in the village itself, our afternoon anticlockwise drive round the man laguna at Fuente was completely in clear skies and very warm, sunny weather. Mind you, the temperature certainly dropped as we eventually made our way back home!

Chaffinches and Thekla Larks as we drove down the mountain and an electricity wire-perched Southern Grey Shrike as we approached the Laguna Dulce and an over-flying Kestrel.  Looking a little on the "murky" side as mentioned above, the water seemed to contain very few birds with most sheltering on or very near to the respective shores around the water.  The majority of the Coots were to the far left along with some Mallards but, searching the waters, we did also find Shovelers, Common Pochards, a few Gadwall and on the far side along with the small number of Red-crested Pochards a handful of Wigeon, a most pleasant sighting.  Also on the water were a few Little Grebes and a small number of Black-headed Gulls.  A lone Little Egret hugged the far shore and even the lone Marsh Harrier looked miserable sitting in his large bush on the far side.  Finally, almost in front of the left, outside, viewing window, a single Song Thrush hidden in a small bush and almost near to it on the waters edge, a well-camouflaged Snipe.

Moving on to Fuente de Piedra via the back roads we had soon recorded Spotless Starlings, House Sparrows and Blackbirds.  A pair of Red-legged Partridge were debating whether to stay on the road and be flattened or move into the cover of the neighbouring olive groves.  A Buzzard on the an electricity pole, another Kestrel followed by a Great Tit and Wood Pigeon before we were at the Mirador Cantarranas.   But where were the expected Cranes?  Not on the fields or the water below the mirador as we looked out.  A single juvenile Flamingo then the main colony off to the distant right.  A couple of Marsh Harriers quartered the large pool in front and we also recorded a single Grey Heron.  However, we could hear Cranes and, on returning to the car, saw four fly over and then found a further total of just twenty birds.

Moving on down, passing another Little Egret, to the area around the Visitors Centre we soon picked up a score of Jackdaws near the flooded field along with very many Chiffchaffs and White Wagtails plus Coots, Shovelers and Teal.  The Laguneta at the back held a juvenile Flamingo and a number of Shoveler, Teal, Pochard and Mallard along with both Little and Black-necked Grebes. Chiffchaffs, Black Redstarts and Stonechats busied themselves in the nearby bushes, along with a number of rabbits, and a few Black-headed Gulls paid irregular visits to the water.  Also noted with a few Moorhen, Black-winged Stilts and a number of Lapwings.  On the muddy shores of the main water along with many Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls a very special sighting of three visiting black-bellied Brent Geese.  What a sighting was this, my first in Spain!

The final circuit of the laguna duly found many of the Cranes with a large flock of 113 counted before the road split to take us left and on round the lake but not before we had also recorded both a Hoopoe, Kentish Plover and a Green Sandpiper on the flooded field at the front of the main entrance to the Visitors Centre.  Near the Cantarranas we recorded more Goldfinches and Serins along with Crested Lark and a Meadow Pipit.  However, even better, no sooner had we found a pair of Ravens than we recorded about twenty Barn Swallows flying above us.

No Stone Curlews at the usual site as the local farmers were drilling the field but  a little further on a Peregrine Falcon resting on a stone in the middle of a field caught our eye and, having made its departure, we relocated it further away on the skyline where, once again, it used a large rock as its preferred resting spot.

A great day then in lovely company and, for w four, a magnificent total of 52 birds including five new species for the year.

A part of the Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus flock at Fuente de Piedra

Follow me lads!

You eat, I'll keep watch.

Birds seen:
Brent Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh harrier, Buzard, kestrel, peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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