Sunday 2 April 2017

Fuente de Piedra

Saturday 1 April 

At the airport in the middle of the night to take friends back for their return flight so straight on to Zapata arriving at 5.50 for twenty minutes or so.  As you will deduce from the time spent in the dark nothing seen (apart from a single young rabbit) so off to Fuente de Piedra where the only open coffee facility was in the market.  Still, a quick coffee and then down to the salinas to park on the road alongside the flooded field and await the morning light.  In the gloom at the back I could make out 21 Flamingos and a couple of Black-winged Stilts so took a short walk over to the boardwalk, found a few more Flamingos but nothing else in the dark.  And my goodness it was cold!

Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus on the move
back to the, comparative, warmth of the car, window opened and anxious for enough light to actually see what was about.  A quartet of Redhanks made a hasty departure and with the increasing light I could also pick out Coots, Moorhen and Shoveler.  Still almost thirty minutes to sunrise but now also able to add Mallard and Avocet and then a single Lapwing walking the bank to my right.  Much sudden movement as a mixed flock of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls came in for a wash and brush-up and then I picked out a handful of Gull-billed Terns doing likewise.

Resting Gull-billed Tern Pagaza Piconegra Sterna nilotica with feeding Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
A walk across to the boardwalk before any visitors could upset the status quo revealed a departing Grey Heron with another fifteen Flamingos in the water and a quartet of Avocets along with a couple of Black-winged Stilts.  The first Little Ringed Plover of the morning arrived to see what was happening and a lone Cattle Egret sat on the handrail wondering what all the fuss was about.  Using the scope I centred on the small brown bird that suddenly appeared alongside the boardwalk and was happy to confirm a Meadow Pipit whilst away towards the main water at the back of the pool a couple of Ruff were feeding alongside an Avocet.

Avocet Avoceta Comun Recurvirostra avosetta accompanied by a pair of Ruff Combatiente Philomachus pugnax and a Shovler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
The short walk took me to the scrape where there seemed to more activity with a range of ducks including Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall and Shoveler.  A Blackbird flew into the nearby bushes and then, at the back, I managed to find the hidden Snipe.  Continuing up and beyond the mirador, from where I scoped beyond the scrape and found a pair of Stone Curlew whilst the Jackdaws busied themselves above me, to the open hide overlooking the small pond I found a very small charm of feeding Goldfinhes with a pair of Little Grebe on the water.

Very distant record shot of the pair of Stone Curlew Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedionemus
Meanwhile, looking at the main water, there seemed to be a slight increase in water and this was accompanied by a definite increase in Flamingos present.  Lots to be seen and informed by the Centre staff that there were now upwards of 15,000 on site (we saw and neighbours heard Flamingos making their way westwards during the past week and presumably heading towards Fuente de Piedra) but there was much concern how the breeding season would develop as they expected the water levels to reduce in the coming weeks.

The main hide overlooking the Laguneto revealed that there was still plenty of water but , at least, the islands were once again beginning to appear.  Lots of Black-headed Gulls about and a score or more Avocets along with Mallard, Pochard, Shoveler and Teal.  Still a number of Flamingos on the water along Coot, Moorhen and Coot and a number of Black-winged Stilts.  Beyond the pair of White Stork could be seen on their new nest atop the tall chimney and, naturally, lots of Spotless Starlings and Rock Doves inhabiting the roof tops.

A Hoopoe could be heard singing as I walked to the neighbouring hide and a Green Sandpiper took to the air upon arrival.  On the water I was able to add a pair of Red-crested Pochards.  Using the bins to look at a nearby Goldfinch on the ground below a bush I was rather pleasantly surprised to see my first Nightingale of the year standing nearby and then it disappeared within and refused to come out and have its photograph taken!

Male Red-crested Pochard Pato Colorado Netta rufina
Back to the scrape as I made my way slowly to the car park the long way round and, by now, many Barn Swallows feeding overhead.  The Ruff, at least a quartet, had now arrived along with a very well developed bird almost black in colour.  Apart from the small number of Chiffchaffs feeding in the trees a number of waders had also made an appearance, or perhaps the light was now muh better and certainly, the temperature had made a marvellous recovery.  In addition to seven Little Stints there were a small number of Little Ringed Plovers and at least two Greater Ringed Plovers.  Then a single Curlew Sandpiper before I took a last look at the boardwalk where I recorded my first raptor of the day as a female Marsh Harrier worked the far field.  Finally, back at the flooded field, I was also able to add a Common Sandpiper.

Ruff Combatiente Philomachus pugnax in the compoany of Little Stints Correlimos Menudo Calidris minuta
Once in the car park I came across fellow ABS member Ron Hatch and together we watched a pair of circling Buzzards and a a quartet of Common Swifts which had joined the feeding Barn Swallows and newly-arrived House Martins.  Time to make a move and passing a female Stonechat on top of a large bush as I reached the main road I continued on to the Mirador de la Vicaria where I recorded my first Corn Bunting of the morning.  With 48 species now recorded I was pretty confident I could add both House Sparrow and Collared Dove to take me up to fifty at the big farm but no sooner had I taken the left turn to follow the road round the laguna than I jammed on the brakes as I watched a most handsome male Montagu's Harrier quartering the new cereal field to my left until it disappeared behind the olive trees..  Wonderful!   Similarly, just before reaching the Mirador Cantarranas I had a female Cirl Bunting move into the field on my right.  50 up but nothing to add at the mirador itself and the "new" Mirador Las Latas only provided a number of singing, and seen, Chaffinches.

The farm did, indeed, produce a number of House Sparrows and then on the return side back to Fuente I stopped to see another Corn Bunting perched on top of the old ruin and scoping the water picked up a Woodchat Shrike in the young olive trees. In front of me a Serin was posing in a bush and a Crested Lark made the short journey form one side of the road to the other.  Finally, on the back track opposite the railway station, a trio of Lesser Kestrels were in the air and showing very well.

And a Little Ringed Plover  Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius came along to join the Ruff's party

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Snipe, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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