Friday 29 January 2016

Titchwell, North Norfolk

Thursday 28 January

The weather forecast/promise was that today would be the best day of the week with a mixture of cloud and sun and becoming even brighter later on.  Given that I would be setting off in the dark just before 7 for the journey over to the Titchfield RSPB reserve in North Norfolk in order arrive by 8.30 and the massed ranks of birders from far and near, I certainly hoped that there would be no change of forecast during the night.  Indeed there was not, I arrived on time with the temperature a rather cold 3C and even signs of a little frost on the sheltered boardwalks but the sun it shone from a clear blue sky and by late morning in the gentle breeze it was truly wonderful.  And the birds were good as ell with a total of 50 species recorded by I drove over to Cley via Brancaster Staithe and Holkham.

Lots of friendly Robins Erithacus rubecula about

The above total included three geese, three pipits and three tits but, for me, perhaps the best sighting of the day came a t the very beginning as I approached Titchwell from inland having passed through Doking.  I had seen my first Rooks, Crows and Jackdaws for the day and watching a Pheasant scurry across the road in front of me I saw it almost bump into a Grey Partidge and following its line of direction through a large gap int hedge noticed that there were three more in the open field quietly climbing away from me.  After so many Red-legged partridges in Spain, how lovely at last to see a native species.  Once in the nearby car park at the reserve I noticed that the really dedicated birders were already on site as there were at least ten cars already in situ.  Into boots and as many coats as I could get on I set off for the entrance complete with bins, camera and scope.  Would there be a Brambling on the feeders?

Yes indeed there would.  Loads of Chaffinches and Greenfinches, a few Goldfinch and very many Blue and Great Tits along with a family of Long-tailed Tits but then, in from the surrounding foliage, the first of a couple of winter-plumaged Bramblings and my heart sang with joy having missed this bird last year.  Not only Brambling but a Lesser Redpoll as well, yet another "escapee" from last year's sightings.  However, these were not the first birds seen on the reserve.  I was greeted by a friendly Robin, perhaps they are used to collecting an entrance fee from every visitor by way of a crumb or two, and they certainly seem to appear wherever you went near the Visitors Centre.  Also present were a couple of Blackbirds and they, too, seemed to be out in force but, more than any other species, there seemed to be Wood Pigeons in every tree and vantage point.  Under the feeders themselves the Pheasants and Moorhens were busy feeding on the spilt seed but, neither here nor anywhere else, did I see either a House Sparrow or Collared Dove anywhere.

No shortage of Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs today

Walking round the back and along the boardwalk to the Fen Hide and Patsy's Reedbed I came first across a Wren quickly followed by good view of a Cetti's Warbler at the latter.  On the pond itself were a good number of Gadwall and a couple of Tufted Ducks and a handful of Teal along with a similar number of Mallards.  But very few Coots.  A short stay at the fen Hide itself but nothing to be seen although I was told that a pair of Barn Owls had passed over about thirty minutes previously and so it was back to the Visitors Centre to start the walk down tot the beach as the Pond Trail was closed for repairs.
Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, Lapwings and more Lapwings
I had seen small flocks on the way, they could be heard calling in the distance as I started along the path the first good-sized flock of Pink-footed Geese passed over and continued to do so for the rest of the morning.  A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reeds to my right and a pair of Little Grebes were diving up and down in a channel to the right as only Dabchicks can.  I had heard about what was to be seen in the dry pond on the left so stopped and used both bins and scope to successfully find the mixed pipits feeding on the damp soil.  I only found a couple of Meadow Pipits and the same with the Water so leaving Rock Pipit as the most abundant species.  All three good to record and observe, noticing the various different markings and colours.

Resting Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

Next up was the Island Hide to get my first good look at the waders, ducks and geese on the shallow water.  Scores of Lapwings, and these birds were to be seen everywhere and in good numbers, along with a relatively large flock of Brent Geese.  No shortage of Teal on this water and very many Common Redshank plus a large flighty flock of Dunlin.  Among these smaller waders I managed to find a single Ringed Plover.  Just a few Shelduck, most along with more Common Redshanks, were to be seen on the Volunteer marsh from the North Parinder Hide.  At the far side about thirty plus Avocets were sheltering along with a similar number of Black-tailed Godwits and many more Lapwing and Brent Geese.  Finally, nearer to the path when viewed from the hide, a single Grey Plover, a pair of Shoveler and a small flock of Greylag Geese.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla
Continuing on along the path to the beach I had first a single Little Egret and then a sleeping handful of Common Redshank with an odd Whimbrel at their side.  Black-headed Gulls were constantly passing overhead in ones and twos and then I was at he beach and very few birds to be seen at the edge of the water.  A couple of Oystercatchers, although there were a good number to be seen further east along the shore, and a pair of Turnstones.  On the choppy sea itself I managed to find a quintet of Great Crested Grebes and a small raft of Common Scoter.

One of very many Common Redshank Tringa totanus feeding in the mud
Working my way back to the Parinder Hides I finally recorded a Curlew along with many more Common Redshanks and it was from the South Parinder Hide that I picked up the single Spotted Redshank working its way along the back of a small island among the mainly Lapwing.  And so it was the long walk back to the feeding stations at the Visitors Centre where the Greenfinches seemed to have taken over but I did have another sighting of the wintering Brambling and this is when and where the Lesser Redpoll put in its appearance.

A rather smart (2nd winter?) Common (Mew) Gull Larus canus
Now after 1pm and I decided I would drive on the Brancaster Staithe to eat my picnic lunch overlooking the river.  Lots of Oystercatchers to be seen and a few Turnstones.  Both Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls put in an appearance but it was a pleasure to have a close Common Gull resting on the shingle below me.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

A short stop at Holkham overlooking the flooded fields produced more Pink-footed Geese, Teal, Lapwings and Common Redshanks before arriving at Cley, with a Kestrel hovering overhead, from where I drove straight to the beach.  Stopping a couple of times on the way don the narrow road I had a close view of a feeding Oystercatcher and then found a small group of about ten Golden Plovers resting under the lee of a grassy bank.  Nothing untoward on the sea other than a couple of Cormorants but I did have close views of Herring, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A look over the nearby water from the Visitors Centre suggested that there was little extra to be seen other than a Mute Swan so I made an early start back to Stamford so that I might arrive before all the light was gone.  A most enjoyable day.

Distant record shot of a handful of Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Birds seen: 
Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll.

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

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Eyebrook Reservoir

Wednesday 27 January

With the promised rain not materialising, the gusty wind falling back to a breeze and my planned chores completed, I popped over to relatively nearby Eyebrook Reservoir on the Rutland/Leicestershire border for an hour or so this afternoon and managed to find 30 species, including many ducks along with three waders.

Greylag Goose Anser anser
On arriving the light was not good and the sun was trying to illuminate the water but low and on the opposite bank so yet another problem.  Despite the small waves there were a good number of Mallards, Pochards and Gadwall on the water along with scores of Greylag Geese, albeit the last were making their way ashore on the nearer bank.  The odd Crow and a hovering Kestrel plus a number of Wood Pigeons and Blackbirds also helped set the scene.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Driving to the road bridge over the inlet stream I had both Blue and Great Tits feeding on the seed hoppers whilst on the lake side a single Mute Swan, there were many others on the main water, Heron and my first Little Egret since returning were busy feeding in the company of a score of more resting Teal and a couple of Moorhen.

Hundreds of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus present with numerous Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
On round to the back to get a better view of the large roosting Lapwing flock from the roadside screen where the flock also included a small number of Dunlin and a couple of score or more of Golden Plover.  The Common Starlings were very flighty and moved off as I approached.  meanwhile, overhead, a couple of beautiful Red Kites got closer and closer giving great views in the dwindling light.  Continuing on to the second roadside "hide" and I found yet more lapwing along with a score of Cormorants, a handful of Golden Plover and a small number of Coots.  Whilst there were a number of Black-headed Gulls flying over the water, it was surprising to find a single Great Black-backed Gull roosting with the Cormorants.  A second Pheasant dashed across the road and my only finch of the day was a rather lovely male Bullfinch that decided the hedge on the other side of the road was more appetising.

Red Kite Milvus milvus overhead in the dimming light
The final ducks of the day were a handful of both Shelduck and Tufted Duck and as I made my way round the reservoir I also added a flock of Rooks and a Magpie on the way home.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Teal Anas crecca

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Crow, Rook, Starling, Bullfinch.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor

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

Monday 25 January 2016

Rutland Water

Distant Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrino
Monday 25 January

Another dry, calm day and even some warm sunshine - well, warmish!  Off fist thing to Rutland Water and quickly greeted by the corvid family re Crow, Rook and Jackdaw along with a pair of Magpies before departure.  Blackbirds about the car park and adjoining area and still scores of Wood Pigeons to be seen.  The feeding station provided a pair of Dunnocks along with both Great and Blue Tit plus a hen Pheasant (obviously one that managed to escape the Christmas pot!).

Dunnock Prunella modularis
The initial view over the water from the Visitors Centre hinted at what was to follow both in terms of wildfowl and water level.  Given in amount of rain which has been reported form the UK over the past month or so, I was more than surprised to see how the levels had dropped exposing much muddy banks for the waders and ducks to forage.  On the water itself plenty of Mallards, Gadwall and the occasional Wigeon accompanied by scores of Lapwing and a number of Black-headed Gulls.  We even had a trio of Shelduck along with some Coots.

An inquisitive hen Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
The walk down to Lagoons 2 and 3 provide a number of small birds including Chaffinches and a rather resplendent Great Spotted Woodpecker.  These side hides gave good views of close Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and a few Pintail along with the first Moorhen of the day.  I even managed the first sighting of quite a number of Goldeneye, both males and females.

Distant record shot of Pintail Anus acuta

Lagoon 4 duly produced a small number of Cormorants along with a plentiful supply of Wigeon and a few Mute Swans.  Sitting on the perch of the Osprey nest I had a long look at the Peregrine Falcon and I certainly got he impression that it had been in residence for thirty minutes or more.Moving on to Lagoon 3 at the "Shoveler Hide" I then had better views of the Goldeneyes along with Great Crested Grebes,Heron, Little Grebe and a pair of Egyptian Geese.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Making my way back towards Lagoon 4 to see if I could locate the trio of female Smews (I could not) I recorded Robin and Pied Wagtail.  Then it was on to the opposite end of the reserve to check out the relatively new lagoons of 5 to 8 inclusive.  From outside the "360 " hide I could look over most of the water and managed to find a pair of Magpies, A resting Buzzard and a small number of Common Starlings along with a flock of Canada Geese were added to the list.

Add caption
Finally, back to the car park and on to the North Arm to see if I could locate the resident grebes, all five species having been seen on the same water in the last few days.  On arrival I was joined by three other birders and we carefully scanned the now choppy and exposed waters.  There were the usual ducks and Cormorants at the deep end of the Burley Fishponds and a couple of Greylag Geese on the far shore but it was the grebes that we sought.  My neighbour was first to find the Black-necked Grebes and we managed to count a handful when en I saw a strange looking Great Crested Grebe.  Closer inspection with the scope revealed a Great Norther Diver.  None of us could find either the Red-necked or Slavonian Grebe so if today turns out to be my last birding trip of the week then what a bird to finish with!

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot,  Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

The distant Peregrine Falco peregrino saying "Goodbye" to me as I say depart Rutland Water

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

Now for some Ducks and Swans

Sunday 24 January

All about Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus this afternoonon
A late start this morning arriving at Deeping Lakes in Lincolnshire at about 10.30 where I soon found a few Cormorants and the first ducks of the day; Mallard, Wigeon and Gadwall.  On to the hide overlooking the main water where I very quickly added both Coot and Moorhen then picked up a couple of of Wigeon, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. Just the single Great Crested Grebe but a couple of Herons flew over and settled on the far side and there was no shortage of Wood Pigeons and the occasional Collared Dove.  One or two Blackbirds before picking out the Mute Swans and a good number of Greylag Geese.  Very few gulls present but I did see a handful of Herring and Black-headed Gulls. It was lovely to find a very small number of Goldeneye and the flock of Canada Geese before I started to make my way back to the muddy car park.

Just about to cross the little footbridge when I noticed the movement in the bush immediately in front so stopped to watch the busy activity of a feeding flock of about a dozen Long-tailed Tits, such lovely and lively little chaps.  Then the constant calling drew my attention to the motley collection of Jackdaws on the other side of the car park pond followed by a small number of Rooks as I headed for the main road.

Oh the funa and joy to be an acrobatic Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus and get up to these feeding tricks

 Back to Stamford to collect my Internet order from Rohans (shop) and a very early lunch before heading off to the Ouse Washes at Welney Nature Reserve which, to my great surprise, is less then fifty minutes away.  Greeted for the noise of scores of Whooper Swans, presumably getting angry because the daily feed had yet to arrive, and a number of House Sparrows plus Chaffinch and Blackbird on and around the feeders I made my way up to the observation platform.

Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus in all their glory and waiting for their (provided) supper
A look at the nearby feeders produced Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches, Great and Blue Tits along with a Reed Bunting.  back amongst the Whooper Swans I also noted the odd Black-headed Gull and watched as a female Marsh Harrier drifted low across the grass behind them.  This was not, however, the raptor to which other observers were referring as, sat on a distant post, was a rather lovely Sparrowhawk.  A Kestrel also resting on a post was observes from the other side of the platform to complete the raptor observation.  Way to the back beyond the main Whooper Swan flock I managed to pick up a trio of Shelduck.

Crossing the road bridge and smiling as I watched a couple of birders below debating how to get past the pair of Mute Swans that were occupying the path, I entered the first hide and felt as if I was actually sitting amongst the ducks and swans that were immediately in front and below me.  Mainly Mute Swans and Mallards it appeared at first but I soon noticed that there were also scores of Pochards and very many Whooper Swans.  The occasional Tufted Duck paddled in to view and there were very many more of these birds further out.

Pochard Aythya ferina, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula and Mallard Anas platyrhnchos
Panning right with my scope I picked up about a dozen more resting Whooper Swans but on the extreme end of this spit rested a single Bewick's Swan, the only individual present as far as I could see and be informed by others present.  On the same spit I found most of the waders, albeit the lapwing could be quite flighty at times and were present in great number.  A large flock of Dunlin and at least one Ruff the I found the handful of Redshank.  nearby a score of Black-tailed Godwits and then, as I scoped left, the hundreds of Wigeon came into view.

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Mute Swan Cygnus olor by way of head comparison

Finally, not only did I locate the few Teal that were present but also a single Pintail. By now the Common Starlings were on the move and looking back at the swans and ducks below me I noted that the group had been joined by Wigeons and far more Tufted Ducks.  A most interesting visit and so back for the, relatively, short drive to Stamford and time to tidy up the house before finally reading the morning's paper; now that was a special treat, the paper reading that is, that I do not have in Mezquitilla!

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Longtailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Now I winder what name was given to this individual?

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

Friday 22 January 2016

Axarquia Bird group visit to the Sierra Tejeda

Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia
Thursday 21 January

Leaving the coast at 8.45 on a very pleasant morning with  the temperature at 14C along with visiting Dutch birder Lisette Heikoop by the time we arrived at the meeting point above the old railway bridge at Ventas de Zafarraya, having seen both Collared Doves and a pair of Kestrels on the way, the temperature had dropped to 8C and the very strong, blustering wind seemed to give the place to a chill factor of barely 2 or 3 degrees if not less.  Brhhhh!  There to meet us were old friends John and Jenny Wainwright from Salar, who had already picked up Rock Sparrows since their arrival, Gerry Collins and Adri Pazato from Salobrena and all the way over from the other side of Malaga Barbara and Derek Etherton along with Micky Smith, four of them having seen a lovely Bonellis's Eagle plus Crested Lark as they approached the pass.  As we sorted ourselves out putting on layer after layer complete with hats, gloves and anything else we could lay our hands upon, a Black Wheatear looked down on us, no doubt think what a load of whimps these humans are and a few White Wagtails wandered around the car park..

No time to worry about such thoughts we keen to get underway and get some warmth into our bodies and just hope the sun might put in an appearance as we approached the tunnel and out of the shadow of the opposite peak.  At that point we heard then saw the massed flock of Choughs which probably totalled around the seventy plus mark as they wheeled around one cliff then another and seemed to be present for the whole of stay.  Working our way along the track towards the tunnel we cam e across the first regular sightings of Thekla Larks and a number of Goldfinches. beyond the tunnel we had our first Black Redstart followed by more Thekla Larks and a couple of Rock Sparrows, a number of both Stonechats and Chaffinches and a single Greenfinch whilst below we also recorded Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackbird.  A Meadow Pipit made a very brief appearance but, perhaps, the best sighting was the pair of Wood Larks that flew immediately overhead before turning towards the mountainside.  Finally, we managed to find a good, but distant, view of a Blue Rock Thrush.  Whilst we had seen a single Ibex standing aloof atop the mountain's cliff face it was, nevertheless, pleasing to see a mother and yearling cross the track immediately in front of us before seeking higher ground.

Ibex Capra pyrenaica and kid (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Time to return to the car park where we managed to see our first Red-legged Partridge of the day and then, by way of recovery, made our way to the nearby bar to both use the facilities and warm ourselves up with a hot coffee before carrying on up to the woods at El Robledal.

Passing White Wagtails, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows as we approached the track from the min road to El Robedal we were soon making the first of very many stops along the way to check for "hiding" birds.  The first produced another flock of Choughs but a single Wood Pigeon managed to keep moving along at a steady pace.   Ere long we were finding the odd Great and Blue Tit as well as more Chaffinches.  Having found our first Mistle Thrush we were then also introduced to the first of many sightings of the white rumps of various Jays as they disappeared into nearby foliage.  But, on the top of a small ridge, posed what we first thought was going to be a Kestrel.. The bins revealed that it certainly was not and yet not a second Mistle Thrush.  Time for the scope.  What a find, and a bird I had so far missed all winter, a rather "chubby" Fieldfare looking quite dark against the surrounding greenery.  Meanwhile, over the trees, we started to see a small number of Crag Martins.

Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia
Then for a very pleasant surprise, a pair of Rock Buntings and they refused to move on s that we all had very good views.  Not content with the status quo the birds were joined by a Cirl Bunting.  Just a few hundred metres later we stopped to look at another nearby bush in front of us and not only both Cirl and Rock Buntings but a number of Corn Buntings had come to join them.

Cirl Bunting EscribanoSoteno Emberiza cirius (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

A very high Bonelli's Eagle, which caused much discussion as to its identity where we eventually agreed it was a juvenile, drifted over as were in the car park.

Distant Bonelli's Eagle Aguila-azor Perdicera Hieraaetus fasciatus
At about this time we saw, rather than just heard, the first of a number of sightings of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and, indeed, the yaffle was followed by the appearance of a Green Woodpecker.  A distant small group of Azure-winged Magpies were recorded along with another Red-legged Partridge.  Derek managed to pick out a fleeing Nuthatch and Lisette heard the distinctive call of a Crested Tit.  In the tall, bear tree near the ruined farm at the car park a number of Crossbills were active.  In this area we also herd Coal Tits and all saw Long-tailed Tits and a few of the members another Blue Tit.

Whilst most of us, now well past thee o'clock, set off for a well-earned menu del dia back at Ventas de Zafarraya, John and Jenny returned to one of their favoured spots and managed to also find Nuthatch, Wood Lark, Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, an Iberian Grey Shrike, Jays, Spotless Starlings, Wood Pigeon and more Mistle Thrushes.  A Common Kestrel was seen on a pylon as we left the area (also seen by the rest of the party) and on their way back to Salar the pair also recorded Corn Buntings, a Common Buzzard and a Lesser Kestrel

Considering the conditions, all in all a very pleasing day with a final tally of at least 46 species.

My special thanks to John Wainwright for sending in his report from which the above was complield along with my own observations.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chafinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

Sunday 17 January 2016

Fuente de Piedra

Saturday 16 January

Along with over thirty other members of the Andalucia Bird Society I spent the morning at the, almost dry, salinas of Fuente de Piedra in glorious sunny weather and almost perfectly clear blue skies but, on the other hand, somewhat on the chilly side at only 5C when we met up at 9.30.  However, by the time we set off for home to get ready for a night at the opera watching the Met, New York's live (relay) production of Bizet's "Pearl Fishers" at Rincon de la Victoria the temperature had almost reached the twenty mark and most were discarding clothes like there was no tomorrow!

Greeted by a mixture of White Wagtail, Jackdaws, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings and it was surprising to see that the recent showers had actually created a small pond on the field to the left as we approached the  car park.  A handful of Lapwing were the first birds seen but as we left at the end of the morning they had also been joined by a quartet of Back-winged Stilts.  No sooner had we parked up and it was a case of gathering at the top of the steps alongside the Visitors Centre so that we could be actually be in the sun.  Below us the scrape was completely dry and no sign of any water in the main laguna at this end albeit a shallow stretch to our left held scores of Flamingos and at least twenty Shelduck.  In front of the birds was a large flock of Lesser Black-backed and on closer inspection the edges contained a good number of Mediterranean Gulls.  About a dozen distant small waders close to the Shelduck were eventually identified as Dunlins.  Overhead a few Crag Martins and then the first House Martins of the year.  A quartet of Mallard flew overhead heading towards the small lagunetta at the rear whilst below us a male Blackcap fidgeted about in a nearby tree.  To our right on the now completely arid scrape a large flock of Greenfinches were busy feeding on the ground and in their midst at least a handful of Spanish Sparrows.  A very distant scan to the far end of the main laguna not only revealed many more Flamingos but also a good number of Cranes feeding in the nearby fields.

On round to the lagunetta which was full of water but only the two islands immediately in front of the hide visible and another couple of Flamingos before noting Mallards, Shovelers, Pochards and a couple of Teals.  A pair of Cormorants rested on the main island whilst on the other a lone Water Pipit wandered casually along the edge looking for further sustenance.  No shortage of Coots or Moorhens along with a small number of Little Grebe and a Marsh Harrier rested on top of the tall shrubs on the opposite bank.  A Cetti's Warbler could be heard calling and then the lovely sight of a Bluethroat wandering about the ground immediately below the hide, a first-ever sighting for some of the members present.  The small trees themselves were full of Chiffchaffs and even the occasional Stonechat.  Above the water there was a constant movement of feeding Crag Martins and ever more House Martins plus a at least a couple of Sand Martins by way of variety.  Some even manged to find a skulking Snipe

A walk to the nearby open hide provided more Chiffchaffs and a female Sardinian Warbler before returning to the car park via the lower path alongside the now dry stream.  A Dartford Warbler had been seen just before arriving but the female Black Redstart as a delight to see.

Small groups of Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus passing overhead
Leaving the centre we drove round to the Mirador de Cantarannas which, again, looking down on the very patch that usually held a good-sized area of water and home to many ducks and waders, was completely dry.  Nothing.  Just beyond one could see more Flamingos and many small groups of Cranes.  From here there was a regular dispersal with handfuls of Cranes passing overhead to join the hundreds on the field behind opposite the mirador.  Immediately below the mirador a number of House Sparrows were very active and a single Robin put in a very brief appearance.  To our left a solitary Iberian Grey Shrike stood sentinel at the top of a small bush overlooking a bare patch of ground and from the way it reacted after about five minutes it had apparently seen its next meal.
Record shot of Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Time to head off home by completing the circuit round the laguna and almost at once a Raven resting atop an old tree stump and then a small mixed flock of mainly Linnets accompanied by a handful each of Goldfinches and a Serins.   However, the Stone Curlews seen by some at the start of the morning as they approached the village were not to be seen and the Blackbirds did not show themselves until we were almost home.

Very much like juvenile Cranes Grus grus looking for parents
Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove,Crag Martin, Sand Martin, House Martin, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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