Friday, 3 November 2017

Fuente de Piedra

Wednesday 1 November

I know the reports suggested Fuente de Piedra would be dry but as I needed to deliver some magazines to Marta and I had promised my visiting Australian border, Bob Ashford to show him the site, we decided to make a morning of it.  To our most pleasant surprise the small laguneta at the back was almost full (where had all the water come from if not from above?) and even the main laguna had a "damp, if not wet, look about it.  Jut a pity that nobody had told the birds the change in circumstance!

Entering the site we soon recorded House Sparrow, Blackbird and Rock Dove and working our way to the mirador overlooking the main laguna a few Spotless Starlings heralded the arrival of a score of Jackdaws.  In the nearby shrubbery, especially at ground level, a pair of Sardinian Warblers and regular sightings of Black Redstart.

Out on the sand in front hundreds of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls to our right.  Beyond the former where there was a small area of standing water, near the inflow,  probably less than 100 Flamingos and other than a small number of mainly juvenile Flamingos to the right ho sign of any other of these iconic birds to be seen - even with a scope.  However, just beyond the above Flamingos on the edge of the water up to about half-dozen Cranes were feeding and/or drinking.  My sight of the first Cranes this autumn.  Would this be a year of hundreds or thousands taking up residence for the next four months; we shall certainly know within the next fortnight or so.

The first Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus of the season
At the rear of the Visitors Centre there might be water but very little bird life.  No Flamingos and only one pair of Shoveler along with about a dozen Mallard.  Less than a handful of Little Grebes and only a similar number of Coots at the far right-hand end of the laguneta.  However, there seemed to be at least a dozen Moorhens swimming together as if in a family group.  Much work with scope and bins eventually found a couple of Common Sandpipers on the opposite bank and then at least seven Green Sandpipers.

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Granda Tringa ochropus

The islands were once again islands rather than raised slopes on a dry floor but all seemed barren until we found the sleeping Snipe.  Not just one but also a second as we followed the Water Pipit that had put in an appearance.

Finally, everything went up in the air along with a small flock of Spotless Starlings as they mobbed the male Marsh Harrier that headed for the water.  When last seen the raptor was dropping into the trees for some peace and quiet rather than a meal!  A Hoopoe "bounded" across in front of us and we thought we had a Ringed Plover on the sandy beach in front but when it finally emerged from cover it turned out to be our first of every many White Wagtails seen during the next hour.

Distant male Marsh Harier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosus homing in on prey

A visit to the small hide produced a pair of Mallards, a few House Sparrows and a couple of Chiffchaffs feeding in the reeds below.

Time to set off around the lake in search of the newly-arrived Cranes.  First a couple of Crested Larks than passed the ploughed fields which seemed to be teeming with mainly White Wagtails and a smaller number of Meadow Pipits.  Then, overhead,  a small group of ten Cranes quickly followed by odd family groups making a total of nineteen in all.

The Meadow Pipits Bibita Pratense Anthus pratensis are back for the winter
Even tough we took the farm track over to Campillos we were not to see any more.  We had a small charm of Goldfinch, more House Sparrows and even a couple of Serin before finding our single Northern Wheatear.  Three raven were found near the ruined farm buildings and then, having stopped for a tapa and drink, we emerged to find a Peregrine Falcon flying low above the car and, not long after, a Kestrel resting on a pylon.  All in all, not a bad morning in lovely weather and great company.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Lesser Back-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff,  Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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