Friday 11 January 2013

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

Adult & juvenile Crane Grulla Grus grus

Having business to attend this morning it seemed perverse to drive straight past Laguna Dulce and not stop so decided I would take a short break on both the outward and return journeys with the latter preceding a quick trip over to Fuente de Piedra for the Cranes and FlamingosBlack Redstart, Stonechat, Thekla Lark and White Wagtail as I came down the mountain and then a rather tidy-looking pair of Collared Doves as I needed the laguna itself.  Here, in pleasant weather conditions, the water level was much higher than I had seen it in years so, obviously, no evident signs of waders other than a handful of Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Lapwing taking a short excursion to the water to get away from their compatriots feeding in the field on the far bank.

The most obvious sign was that my visit seemed to have coincided with the "January Coot Convention" as there were hundreds everywhere; long rafts of Coots along the back edge, flocks in the bays and even a good number on the centre of the water itself.  But was there a Red-knobbed Coot?  I have no idea and made no effort to try and locate one - if, indeed, there was one present. With regards to ducks,there was at least a dozen Red-crested Pochard and a few more Common Pochards, a dozen or so Gadwall along with a very small number of White-headed Ducks, a few Shovelers and odd pairs of Mallards hiding in the most sheltered parts of the laguna.

Black-necked Grebe  Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis

A small number of Black-headed Gulls were making use of the water along with a very few Little Grebes and only one Black-knecked Grebe recorded.  A female Marsh Harrier sat patiently on top of a bush on the far side, presumably waiting for a little more warmth before setting out an the breakfast run, or flight in her case.  I found a second Marsh Harrier sitting on the bank to the far left but, strangest of all, was a Purple Swamphen perched/feeding at least two metres up at the top of a bush not twenty metres away from the first Marsh Harrier.  Away to the right beyond the ruined farm at least thirty Common Cranes were very busy feeding taking no notice at all of the working tractor in the next field.  In front of me numerous Chiffchaffs fed and, as everywhere else, there were scores of White Wagtails to be seen.

A small selection of the large Crane Grulla Grus grus flock

Returning about three hours later, the Coots were now well spread as were the ducks, so much so that they took a little finding.  Crane numbers had dropped to half a dozen occupying the same feeding site and there was both a Kestrel and a Buzzard in the old bare tree in front of the distant farm ruin.  Most of the morning's birds were still present but in addition tot he Robin in the tree in front of the hide I actually  found a single Great Crested Grebe on the far side and then a most gorgeous male Hen Harrier drifted into view as he followed the far bank from right to left.

Red-crested Pochard Pato Colorado Netta rufina on the laguneta at Fuente de Piedra

Very active Snipe  Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago
Time to move on to Fuente de Piedra and both Cattle and Little Egrets noted in the flooded field opposite the small bridge as you approach the reserve entrance.  However, just below the Cantarranas Mirador at least an hundred Cranes were feeding in fields not so far away from the main road.  A closer look also revealed eight feeding Snipe.  The flooded field on the left as you entered contained a good number of Teal, and they also appeared on all other waters, along with a few Shovelers.  Best of all, though, was the single Ruff, presumably the same bird seen a couple of weeks ago.  A walk over the long causeway produced a number of Black-winged Stilts and a single Black-tailed Godwit but the only birds recorded on the far side were a couple of flocks of Greenfinches and Corn Buntings respectively.

Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real  Lanius meridionalis

The final walk around the edges and on up to the hides overlooking the laguneta produced a fine Southern Grey Shrike, lots of White Wagatils, a Blackbird and a pair of Hoopoe.  A few ducks on the water including a pair of red-crested Pochards and then back for a last look at the main water.  All is looking very favourable as the Greater Flamingo numbers continue to build and these birds can now be counted in the many thousands and seem to be spread all over the laguna.  Nearer the shore there were hundreds of Shovelers and at least a couple of Shelduck.  Then all was completed and time to head for home having recorded a respectful 43 species during the day.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting

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