|Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis|
First it was to Laguna Herrera where we did the clockwise circuit from just north of the motorway off the old Corboba road. No sooner on the track than we had a trio of Red-legged Partridges having already recorded many Cattle Egrets following the ploughing tractors as we approached. Driving on down the track we had a rather lovely Southern Grey Shrike that was happy to pose for us with a resting Black Restart immediately below. At least two separate flocks of fifty plus Calandra Larks were on the move and there was always a White Wagtail walking the road and field edges along with regular Corn Bunting sightings, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. A single Kestrel flew over and then we picked up a sleeping Fox on top of a large hay-stack! Naturally, there was a Crested Lark to be seen on the road, the first of many, and even a Thekla Lark put in an appearance along with regular sightings of Stonechats.
|One of a quartet of Meadow Pipits Bisbita Pratense Anthus pratensis getting ready for the morning ablutions|
|There are Tufted Ducks Porron Monudo Aythya fuligula at the Laguna Dulce|
|Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosus|
Now time for some excitement as we found our first Marsh Harrier resting in a tree on the far bank immediately in front of the hide. No sooner seen than a couple more were in the air quartering over the far and side reed beds. But then, without warning as we conveniently scoped the left side of the water, a Merlin shot by low over the water at mark1V speed never to be seen again! Meanwhile, in front of us, we had feeding Corn Bunting, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a singing Cetti's Warbler. In addition, a very small number of Crag Martins were feeding high overhead.
Time to move on and show John and Grete the neighbouring lagunas in readiness for their return to the Torcal area in April. Redonda was completely dry with only a single Black Redstart to be seen but the larger Capacete was well-stocked with a number of Shoveler, Common Pochard and Mallards. More small grebes to be seen and about thirty juvenile Flamingos in total. Also in view, our first Black-winged Stilts of the morning and a trio of Moorhen feeding on the adjacent arable field.
|Then came the Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus|
|Cranes overhead by the score|
But whist at this site we could here the loud "honking" of nearby Cranes so, perhaps, we might just get closer views and with the sun behind us rather than straight in our faces. Driving slowly down the road to where we could see the main flock, at least another 150, the tractor in front put up most of the birds so we had to be mainly content with an aerial display. However, a smaller number did remain rooted the ground as they carried on feeding so also some time for more photographs.
|Ruff and Reeve Combatiente Philomachus pugnax on the new pool at Fuente de Piedra|
Arriving at the main entrance to first thing I noticed was the field on the left-hand side approach to the Visitors' Centre was once again flooded with shallow water. A few Shovelers had taken up residence along with Black-winged Stilts and a Redshank made a hasty disappearance. At the back a quartet of Ruff were busy feeding as were numerous Chiffchaffs in front of us along with yet more White Wagtails. Then most unexpected, a Common Sandpiper decided to walk along the top of the wooden fence at the side of us and pause to try and extract grubs of some sort from the numerous cracks and crevices. So busy looking over John's should at the activity that I had not noticed that the waters had also returned to the opposite side of the road, still more needed, and, at least, the bridge now actually had water beneath! A Snipe suddenly shot up in front of me, he must have seen the bins poking through the window, and there were yet more Chiffchaffs and Chaffinches in the neighbouring trees.
Great news to have water back because even a large puddle had appeared below the Centre where previously the sheep had grazed so now, hopefully, we can expect to see the return of some waders, especially the Avocets. On the main water lots of Flamingos and some Yellow-legged Gulls in with the mixed gull flock plus a pair of Shelduck. No sign of a Stone Curlew but more Lapwings and then a distant fly-past by a large group of Jackdaws. Most of the wildlife was put into the air, including Shovelers, Teal and Black-winged Stilts, by a low-flying Marsh Harrier as we returned from a relatively short visit to the Laguneta at the rear of the site. On the main water we found a good number of Gadwall, Shovelers, Teal and Mallards along with Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebes.
|Common Sandpiper Andarrios Chico Actitis hypoleucos|
|Still lots of Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata about as they come into their summer plumage|
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, red-legged partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Silt, Lapwing, Ruff, snipe, redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Blackheaded Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dive, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.
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