Thursday, 15 December 2016

Axarquia Bird Group visi to Fuente de Piedra

Thursday 15 December

What a start to the day!  I left Mezquitilla with the sun breaking through a few thin clouds as the car climbed up towards Antequera; first drizzle, then fairly heavy rain plus mist and finally a thin fog.  But by the time I arrived at Fuente de Piedra for the monthly visit of the Axarquia Bird Group it was at least dry, if somewhat cold, albeit the sun did break later in the morning.  Just the five of us today, and we had all travelled from Algarroba -Frigiliana, with Steve  and Elena Powell taking in the boardwalk first and recording a rather lovely Wryneck at the far end of the bridge whilst I met up with our latest members, Oliver and Corrinne Hibbert, from Cambridgeshire and who will be spending three months in their rental above Algarrobo Puebla.

On arrival I was greeted by both Spotless Starlings and Collared Dove and, approaching the Visitors Centre a couple of Jackdaws took of from the "puddle" on the entry field to the left.  A good number of Chiffchaffs were feeding in the roadside trees and White Wagtails were also on the hunt for breakfast.  Judging by how over-full the lagunetta was, I imagine that this field will have a good-sized lake within the next fortnight or sooner and even the scrape will begin to develop a watery outlook and the promise of many more waders to come.  Looking down at the damp area of the scrape the limited water did hold both Teal and Black-winged Stilts along with a "flock" of Moorhen.  On the main laguna a good number of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-headed Gulls along with what, I would imagine, to be a growing number of Greater Flamingos.  Checking over the nearest large flock of Flamingos I was delighted to actually pick out a single Lesser Flamingo in their midst.  Finally, a large flock of resting Lapwing near the shore and a lone Shelduck.

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros

On round to the main hide overlooking the lagunetta and from the start very obvious that there was too much water with the islands well covered other than the vegetation growth.  On the water a good number of both Mallard and Shoveler plus at least a quintet of Little Grebes along with the Coots.  Feeding on the ground and the small trees were a number of Linnets and Greenfinches plus, best of all, a pair of winter-plumaged Reed Buntings.  Naturally,  both Stonechat and Black Redstart were also on display.  Amongst the grasses on the shore's edge a pair of Snipe and away to the right a pair of resting Cattle Egret.  A Grey Heron glided in to land on the island and away to the left we found a resting Buzzard.  The neighbouring hide proved a success for both Steve and Elena.  As I watched a Moorhen trundle over the embankment with my one eye my friends happened to be looking in the right direction as a Merlin screamed over the bank and away; no wonder Rolls Royce used their name for the Spitfire engine.

Eventually back to the mirador overlooking the lagune with Crag Martins flying overhead and called back by Elena  to show me a roosting Little Owl.  Lovely.  On the main water below now a number of Shelduck visible and, on closer inspection, also revealed Avocet and both Dunlin and Ringed PloverGoldfinches were feeding around us as we made our way to the boardwalk.  Regretfully, we could not find the Wryneck seen earlier by Steve and, even worse, no sign this morning of any Cranes as we made our way round the water.  A Crested Lark and many small flocks of House Sparrows drinking from the puddles in the road and, finally, a single Hoopoe in the adjacent olive grove.  So, all in all, despite the weather on the way and the cold start a most rewarding morning in great company.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Buzzard, Merlin, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, White wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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