Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Stone Curlews and the first Cranes

Tuesday 27 October

Just received the following report from friend Derek Etherton which just goes to show that a little rain should not be a deterrent and, as a result, he had a great day's birding with Barbara and brother, Terry.  Not only did he find a good number of Stone Curlews in both the usual places at Fuente de Piedra but was also able to confirm that the first Cranes have returned for the winter.  If, as has been suggested, we are in for a bad winter in most of Europe then we may very well see far more than the usual thousand Cranes at Fuente de Piedra in the coming four months.

Birding Tour from the Rio Grande to Fuente de Piedra and back home

At a loss what to do with my brother on the last day of his stay with us.  It was raining and the planned day walking Malaga was loosing its appeal, it was obvious a change of tack was needed.
Crested Lark Calerida cristata (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
So into the car and off to firstly the Rio Grande, plenty of water with the past days of rain [very welcome it is!], Green and Common Sandpipers, White and Grey Wagtails, Little and 2 Great Egrets to the fore. Mallard, Grey Heron, Sky Lark, Crested Lark, Moorhen and Cormorant in view feeding in the fast flowing, muddy water.  Eventually we found a close by Snipe, always a favourite, at first hiding from us but then finding food more important than us viewing it.  Lots and lots of Meadow Pipits around now and it seems they, the Chiffchaffs and the White Wagtails are here in force.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
We left after a pleasant hour to travel through the pouring rain over the mountain top at Ardales to far sunnier weather and on to Fuente de Piedra.  En route we picked up Stonechat, flocks of Serins,  Goldfinches and Greenfinches and so, so many Hoopoes.  A flock of 20+ Stone Curlew were in the barren fields near the dilapidated house at the northern end but too far away for pictures.  Arriving at the Visitors Centre it was a real pleasure to find the recent rains had put a wet shine on the previous dried lake.  Not an awful lot but birds were back!  200+ Greater Flamingo, 2 Avocets, Mallard, Shoveler, Black Winged Stilt,  a lone Shelduck and 3 Meadow Pipits, soon to be reduced to 2 as a hungry female Marsh Harrier collected a take away!  The Laguneta, with corresponding large hide, at least has a little water for the few Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot that were present.  Around the main lake many Black Redstarts had arrived, Blackcaps were in the tamarisk, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the available water.  Jackdaws flew over and Sardinian Warblers were plenty.  
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Viewing down to the dry field toward the Lesser Kestrel nesting tower both Lapwing and another 20+ Stone Curlew were spied.  An Iberian Grey Shrike took it's usual position on top of a bush  and a lone Common Kestrel flew over.  A pair of Ravens were viewed before the first Common Crane was seen flying towards us.  A single Barn Swallow passed low over us and then we found a Booted Eagle on its usual circular hunting mode.
Stone Curlews Burhinus oedicnemus over Fuente de Piedra (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
It was a bonus to have a Mongoose (did you know the collective noun is 'mongaggle'?) cross the road just ahead of us and travelling the back roads a Sparrowhawk was noted and Cetti's Warbler heard.

Well it kept my difficult-to-entertain brother amused for the day and as a bonus we ended up with a list of 51 without trying too hard.  Back to normal tomorrow!!!

Great to read about the returning waters at Fuente and the sight of a late Barn Swallow.  And it also sounds as if, at last, the door to the main hide overlooking the laguneta has been finally repaired as it was nailed shut when I visited earlier in the month!  (Perhaps they I knew I was on my way over!)  Great report Derek and much appreciated by us all.

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

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