Thursday, 2 January 2014

Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra - Again!!

Tuesday 2 January 2014

It may be just the fact that the waters have returned to Fuente de Piedra but everybody seems to be heading that way.  First we had Eric and Pat Lyon last Sunday, I took Norwegian birders over on New Year's Eve, my friend Andy Paterson was expecting to be there yesterday (check out his blog at http://birding-the-costa.blogspot.com to see if he finally went) and now, this morning, I have received a report from my friends John and Jenny Wainwright about the visit they made yesterday, New Year's Day.  Amazing, I see fifty-eight species and I have hardly started reading John's report when I start hearing about species that we did not record twenty-four hours earlier.  Enjoy John and Jenny's visit.


Laguna Dulce & Piedra  1st January 2014

A bright day to start but got colder and duller as the day went on.

We set off from Salar at about 09.30 and the place was like a ghost town, but we did see a few birds en route to the autovia.  Lots of House Sparrows, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves and Azure-winged Magpies, several Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons and Goldfinches were also noted.

As we approached Laguna Dulce two Great White Egrets flew past in the opposite direction, above the fields on the right a large flock of Lapwings and a Southern Grey Shrike was spotted atop one of the telegraph poles.  At the hide - as we made ourselves comfortable - two Purple Swamphens were seen in the reeds to the right of the hide.  On the water hundreds of Common Coots mixed in with Gadwalls, Little and Black-necked Grebes.  At the back of the laguna we found seven Tufted Ducks, five Ferruginous Ducks, eleven male  Red-crested Pochards with about twenty or more females, Common Pochard, Mallard and one male Teal.

Gadwall  Anade Friso  Anas strepera
In the centre of the laguna a huge swathe of gulls, dominated by Black-headed, with a few Lesser Black-backed, Herring and several Yellow-legged.  In the reeds to our front Corn Buntings, Chiffchaffs, Goldfinches, Robins, a Zitting Cisticola, several Great Tits and Cetti´s Warblers were present and in the water below them a Moorhen was spotted and a Hoopoe was heard in the trees behind.

Marsh Harrier  Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental  Circus aeruginosus 
Over the reeds four Marsh Harriers were seen, although two of them spent a lot of time sitting in the smallish trees on the far side of the laguna, the other two soared back and forward across the laguna, keeping the ducks and coots in a constant state of movement.  One such pass at the back reeds put up seven Green Sandpipers and while I was scoping these a male Sparrowhawk flew over the reeds also.  To the left of the hide a single Grey Heron was stood on the shoreline along with Shovelers and more Mallard, another Moorhen, three White-headed Ducks and then all the Red-crested Pochards - from across the other side of the laguna joined them - being put up by the Marsh Harriers.

A few cars pulled up here so we decided to try Fuente de Piedra via the Sierra del Yuegas rough road.  On the latter road we saw Black Redstarts, Mistle Thrushes, Serins, Buzzard and Common Cranes, a surprise bird was the Black-winged Kite which we found on the power lines opposite the old farm yard at the T junction.

Black-winged Kite  Elanio Comun  Elanus caeruleus
At the Mirador del Cantarranas while we were looking over the fields for Little Bustards, a Booted Eagle passed us by in the direction of Fuente de Piedra.  While at the mirador in the burnt reed bed on our right we found another two Purple Swamphens, two more Marsh Harriers, another forty of so Common Cranes, Blackbirds, Sardinian Warblers, Great Tit, more Goldfinches, Shovelers, Moorhens, Common Coots and Greater Flamingos.

Common Crane  Gulla Comun Grus grus
At the main laguna we were in two minds whether or not to stay as there where masses of people and their dogs (all running loose, naturally- the dogs that is), but we thought we would give it a go regardless.  We are glad we did as in the boardwalk area we saw Meadow Pipits, House Sparrows, three Spanish Sparrows, White Wagtails, Snipe, Chiffchaff, Black-winged Stilts, Stonechats and a female Bluethroat.  A few Jackdaws and Lapwings were seen flying around the fields as was a Raven, Buzzard and a Common Kestrel.

The scrape held only five Moorhens, a single male Teal and three Black-winged Stilts so we headed for the hides, which yielded nothing of which we hadn´t already seen (mostly gulls and a few Shovelers).  So back to the centre's mirador where we found  Greater Flamingos, Shovelers, two Shelduck, Mallard and as I was scoping the right hand side of the laguna a
 was found.

As we were leaving the reserve a Red-legged Partridge flew out of an olive grove and a Raven flew over the same grove.  It was getting really cold and overcast now so we decided to cut the day short and make our way home the only thing of note was another Raven as we passed Loja on the autovia.

All the photographs are by John Wainwright save the Black-winged Kite where Jenny managed to get hold of the camera.


Fabulous report John with lots of great sightings.  Strange that you found your Black-winged Kite in exactly the same place as Eric and, like both of us, confirmed that there would appear no Great Crested Grebes at the Dulce.  But it does have Marsh Harries and, apparently, both Merlin and Sparrowhawks in attendance.  Great that you got to see the great White Egrets and that you not only managed to find a few straggling White-headed Ducks yet to move on to their respective breeding territories but also had those delicate little Ferruginous Ducks present.  Similarly, it looks like "seven" is now the definitive numbers of Tufted Ducks to be found (at the moment) until someone reports otherwise.


Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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