I had hope to post this latest message from John and jenny Wainwright following their visit to Fuente de Piedra last Tuesday but, having just posted the latest news received from Dave and his Arboleas group received the same day, I got the "Get off the bloomin' computer, they've just called final boarding for Auckland!" message from "'er Indoors!" Anyway, no Internet at last night's hotel so have just arrive in Kerikeri on the Bay of Islands to the north of North Island so able to try and catch up. Apologies for the delay, John.
Fuente de Piedra and Laguna Dulce 4th February 2014
A bright, warm day but clouded over lately
Looking at the weekly weather forecast it was apparent that today (Tuesday) was the only day that was viable for any birding, so we headed for Piedra and later on Laguna Dulce.
En route we saw Grey Heron, Spotless Starlings, Woodpigeons and Collared Doves. As we approached the centre the flooded meadow on the left held Shovelers, Teal, Black-winged Stilt, Common Kestrel, Jackdaws and Common Coots.
|Female Common Teal (PHOTO: John Wainwright)|
At the boardwalk we saw Corn Bunting, Stonechats, Chiffchaffs and along the stream we had great views of the male Bluethroat. The scrape had very little on besides a few Mallard, Teal and Shovelers, but further along at the reedbed we saw another Bluethroat, Cetti´s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tits, a few Meadow Pipits and as we started walking away a Common Snipe lifted off out of the bracken at the rear of the reed bed.
|Bluethroat (PHOTO: John Wainwright)|
Above the laguna several hundred gulls included Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed, wheeled and mewed, drowning out even the calls of the Greater Flamingos - which were quite close in today as were two Shelducks. And in the bushes along the path a Robin was heard but not located, plenty of Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Blackbird, Cetti´s and Sardian Warblers.
|Common Snipe and Lapwings feeding together (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)|
Down to the closed hide where we found a pair of Blackcaps in the small bushes and further on the grass towards the lagunetta a Lapwing was feeding as were four Common Snipe. On the water Black-necked and Little Grebes were in good numbers, as were Shovelers (being in the majority), Pochard, Teal, Mallard, Common Coots and above a small number of Crag Martins had just appeared. On a pylon across the other side of the reserve a Common Buzzard was perched and while watching the bird, all of the gulls - mostly Black-headed and Yellow-legged - lifted off of the water due to the arrival of a female Marsh Harrier.
|Northern Shoveler (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)|
So off to the Cantarranas mirador, enroute we saw Red-legged Partridges, White Wagtails and just two Common Cranes - where are the other couple of hundred ?
At the mirador five Marsh Harriers - one male, one female and three juveniles also two Sparrowhawks were seen over the small laguna, while on and around it were Black-winged Stilts, two Purple Swamphens, Teal, Mallard, Shovelers, Black-necked and Little Grebes, two Shelduck (possibly the ones we had seen earlier at the main laguna), four Greater Flamingos and two Lapwings. Just then a huge swathe of Crag Martins came in then along with at least two House Martins.
On arrival back at the car - OH No - I had left the car keys in the ignition and locked the car..woe is me. So after calling recovery we looked around the car park, here we found Greenfinch, Stonechat, a Southern Grey Shrike then in the distance the Cranes were heard and in they came back to their normal location, by the olive groves, although there were only just over a hundred. Then a sudden brainwave to open the car and a piece of wire from the fence and hey presto - entrance gained!! Relief sighs from the wife...as it was getting colder and the sky was coming darker by the minute. We continued on round the laguna - seeing a pair of Ravens and great views of a Hare as it hurtled across our path - making our way to Laguna Dulce.
|Male Black Redstart (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)|
At Laguna Dulce, the sky was really overcast and the wind had risen, although there were still a lot of Chiffchaffs, White Wagtails, Goldfinches and Corn Buntings in around the hide area. Most of the laguna itself was awash with Common Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Black-necked and Little Grebes, whilst around and under the surrounding trees we found at least twenty male Red-crested Pochards, five Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, Mallard, Shovelers, Teal and a Great Crested Grebe. Across the reedbeds two Marsh Harriers quartered and in the fields at the back of the laguna a Buzzard was found along with several Lapwings.
Had to leave now as getting late and need to go shopping in Antiquera....
Another very full report John which helps me remember what I am missing by being away from Spain! Only "casual" birding at the moment in "as seen from car" so the New Zealand total has now reached a grand nine, yes NINE. Lots of Mynas and good views of Australasian Harriers on the drive up along with the local Tui and, even at the roadside, regular sightings of Purple Swamphens. But tomorrow I may be allowed out with the camera and bins!