Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lagua Dulce & Piedra with the Wainwrights

Wednesday 4 March

It looks as if I was not the only one to take the lady wife out for a birding day (my report follows) as an email from John and Jenny Wainwright outlines their exploits over at the Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra.  Enjoy John's comment about "... as we progressed towards Loja the fog got thicker and it wasn´t until we actually got to towards Antequera that it lifted... because guess where we were heading.  Yes, via Salar to Huertor Tajar!!!!!  Looks like we both managed to catch up with newly-arrive Yellow Wagtails of the Spanish persuasion (Blue-headed) Lavandera Boyera Motacilla flava iberiae.

Still hundreds of Common Cranes Grus grus at Fuente de Piedra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Lagunas Piedra and Dulce  4th March

A beautiful Spring day with a light breeze.

As we left Salar for the A92, we saw Barn Swallows, House Martins, Collared Doves, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings, as we progressed towards Loja the fog got thicker and it wasn´t until we actually got to towards Antequera that it lifted. 

On arriving at Piedra, the flooded meadow was alive with Black-tailed Godwits and Shovelers, with a few Common Coots, Moorhens, White Wagtails, Teal, Black-winged Stilts, Cattle Egrets and a single Common Sandpiper.  On the opposite side of the road looking towards the boardwalk we spotted Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Teal and Shovelers, in the small trees here we could hear the Chiffchaffs singing, also small flocks of Linnets were seen.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Moving onto the boardwalk more Yellow Wagtails, Little Ringed Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits, Goldfinches and a few Barn Swallows were noted overhead as were two Ravens. Over the fields (where the Stone Curlews are normally situated-not today though) we found Jackdaws, a Common Kestrel and a Buzzard.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Along the stream to the scrape we saw more Yellow Wagtails (all of the Blue-headed variety), a Green Sandpiper was seen along the far bank of the scrape and by the rushes in the scrape a Redshank was feeding alongside Black-winged Stilts, and along the mud flats here we saw another five Little Ringed Plovers and a Moorhen.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
From the mirador at the centre all we could see were rafts of Gulls, mainly Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed and in the stone wall here, two separate nests of the Polistes gallicus (one of the paper wasps species). A nice surprise was the Short-toed Eagle that circled over us but disappeared from view as it caught a thermal.
Round to the lagunetta,here was Shoveler paradise, everywhere one looked, especially on the foreshore, but in the reeds, on the islands, and the right-hand end of the lagunetta was swamped with them.  We did however manage to find several Pochard, a male White-headed Duck, Teal, Mallard, Common Coots, Moorhens, Little Grebe, twenty adult and two juvenile Greater Flamingos, a Little Egret and a raft of Black-headed Gulls with a few Yellow-legged as well.  While on the rough ground to our front good numbers of Jackdaws, more Moorhens, and White Wagtails were noted, and in the small bushes, Sardinian and Cetti´s Warblers were seen.  Only three Barn Swallows were seen here and in and around the hide we spotted Painted Lady, Large and Small Whites and Clouded Yellow butterflies.   At the open hide the Marsh Frogs were in good voice, but, the only thing different here were two Spanish Sparrows.

Paper Wasps Polistes gallicus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Back to the car and off to the Mirador del Cantarranas, en route a Black Kite soaring low over the olive groves, Corn Buntings, Serins, and in the fields just prior to the mirador three separate groups, totalling some one hundred and fifty, Common Cranes were seen and while we watched them, more small groups were coming in from the laguna (I wondered if they were getting ready to leave??).  And then two more Ravens flew over.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Up to the mirador itself where three Marsh Harriers were quartering the area with another sitting on a fence post to the right of the hide, naturally as they flew round the ducks and gulls were milling round until the Marsh Harriers decide to settle. It was while the Black-headed Gulls where flying around that I noticed a very dark bird amongst them, it turned out to be a Glossy Ibis.  This landed just to the left of the reed beds and it was joined by a Spoonbill and five Purple Swamphens.  Also about were Grey Herons, Lapwings, five Avocets, two juvenile Greater Flamingos and in the field at the back of the waters we watched three Brown Hares leaping about and boxing . In the bushes here we saw Great Tits, Sardinian Warblers, Goldfinches and in the area Crested Larks were also noted. Onwards to Dulce....

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (top centre) and Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (front) (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Laguna Dulce:

On arrival a small number of Spanish birders were about including one of the ex-wardens of Guadlahorce (Antonio,we hadn´t seen him for four years or more), who was leading them.  He pointed out the large group of Red-crested Pochards, as well as three Wigeon along the reeds at the back of the laguna.  The raft of Common Coots were still about as were Common Pochard, Shovelers, Mallard, Gadwall and Teal.  To our left on the foreshore a Common Snipe was feeding; this flew off, but only into shelter to settle down.  Also about were Lapwings, more Greater Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts.  In the reed to our front Goldfinches, Cetti´s and Sardinian Warblers, Blackcaps and House Sparrows were also noted.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
On our return journey a Southern Grey Shrike was spotted atop a telegraph pole and as passed under the new railway bridge at Antequera a Golden Eagle graced us with its presence coming from the direction of the "Chiefs Head", a fitting end to a good days birding.

Great report John and jenny with some fabulous sightings.  I only wish I could say the same about my day almost on your doorstep - but we did see an Osprey.

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

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