Friday, 23 January 2015

Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

Wednesday 21 January

Whilst I was down on the sunny coat at Fuengirola, John and Jenny Wainwright were exploring the delights of both the Laguna Dulce near Campillos and nearby Fuente de Piedra.  Having seen the snow on the mountain tops following Tuesday's rain, I must admit, weather wise, I was probably a lot warmer on the coast.  It seemed as if there was a white pelmet all round the mountain top from east to west.  I wonder how cold it must have been!

This is what happens when you head upwards for your birding!
The snowy countryside above Salar. 
(PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Lagunas Piedra and Dulce  21st January

A foggy day to start but sunshine and a very cold wind later.  We started off for Torre del Mar first of all but as we got climbed out of Salar the snow got deeper and deeper, so we turned back - and headed for Piedra instead!

Before we reached the autovia we had seen Goldfinches, Jackdaw, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  It was very foggy until we reached the Antequera valley, where no sunshine was available but at least we could see about us.

As we drove along the road to the reserve a huge flock of mixed gulls took off from the field to our right, whilst on the left we could see Shovelers, Teal, Mallard and Black-winged Stilts.  After parking  and walking down in the direction of the boardwalk a Great Tit was calling from a tree top.

From the boardwalk we located White Wagtails, Common Snipe, Black-winged Stilts and Teal, lots of Chiffchaffs and Stonechats were about in the small bushes and in the cut down reeds.  Moving along the stream a Water Pipit was noted along with a small group of Greenfinches, another Common Snipe flew off and this made three Meadow Pipits fly away also.  A couple of female Black Redstarts were perched on the fence posts and a Cetti's Warbler called.

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
As we approached the mirador by the centre and looking out onto the main laguna two Grey Herons flew leisurely across and put all the Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls up as well as a few Lapwings.  At the lagunetta we found Shovelers, Teal, Gadwall, Moorhens, Common Coots, Common Pochard, a lone Greater Cormorant and a large group of Little Grebes, which were preening themselves on one of the islands - they are so ungainly on land and kept falling over.  Three Crag Martins flew back and forth over the lagunetta, until a male Sparrowhawk tried to have of them for lunch - but failed - so he perched in a tree for a while and then came back for another try, resounding in another failure.

As we left the reserve a flock of Jackdaws came out of the yellow tower building and a Common Sandpiper landed directly opposite us but not for more than ten seconds, another Common Snipe and a Meadow Pipit were seen here also.

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
We drove round to the Cantarranas mirador where we noted nineteen Common Cranes feeding in the fields to our left, and at the mirador we found three more groups of them but only totalling fifty (if that).  Also about here were Sardinian Warblers, a Southern Grey Shrike, Goldfinches, another flight of seven Common Cranes, Cetti´s Warbler and a Hoopoe.  Looking out from the mirador a group of Greater Flamingos were feeding along with a single Shelduck, Gadwalls and Shovelers.  A male Marsh Harrier flew over the reed beds and then landed behind some grasses then a female Marsh Harrier came into view and the pair flew about the reed beds putting up five Purple Swamphens.  Four of these birds flew into the reeds but one stayed out in the open.  Whilst we watched the remaining bird, two Egyptian Mongoose came out of one reed bed and disappeared into another.

In the trees to our front several Sardinian Warblers were seen along with a small flock of Spanish Sparrows, Cetti´s Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Linnets, Goldfinches and Black Redstarts.  More Crag Martins came over us and headed for the lagunetta.

Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
The wind was freshening up now, and although the sun was shining, there was no warmth to be had, so we drove over to Laguna Dulce, on the way seeing several Ravens, a Buzzard and two more Marsh Harriers (one juvenile and a female).

Record shot of male Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

At Dulce the wind had dropped and the sun was spreading its warmth for a while.  As we settled into the hide for a cup of tea and a bite to eat, we could hear Common Cranes calling from the olive groves across the road.  On the water I counted a flock of thirty two Red-crested Pochards (at least eighteen of these were males), good numbers of Gadwalls, a few Shovelers and Mallard and a nice surprise was seeing two male Wigeon here - mixed in with a large raft of Common Coots.  Only one Black-necked Grebe and several Little Grebe were noted along with three Moorhens.  A juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds at the back of the laguna and in the reeds and bushes to our front House Sparrows, Cetti´s Warblers, Goldfinches, Black Redstart, a Blackbird and a Great Tit were seen, while on the foreshore here a Lapwing and more Gadwalls were about.

Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope with the Coot Focha Comun Fulica atra raft  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As Jenny walked back to the car a Short-toed Treecreeper was spotted in the corner of the picnic area and as we drove back to the autovia, the Common Cranes were spotted, as were a Mistle Thrush and a Southern Grey Shrike.

Pleased to see that you,too, found the Wigeons that were spotted by the ABS members on their visit to Laguna Dulce the previous Saturday.  But it sounds as if the three dark-bellied Brent Geese that were on the "mud" immediately in front of the Visitors center at Fuente have moved on.

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

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