Monday 24 July 2017

El Torcal and Fuente de Piedra

Monday 24 July

Up very early and out of the house by 6.40 so that I arrived at the foot of  El Torcal jut over an hour later.  Lots of Rock Doves and House Sparrows as  passed through Villanueva de la Concepcion and then, on arrival, the first of very many Woodchat Shrikes that I was to see during the morning, including many juveniles so this species would appear to have a successful breeding season.  House Martins and the occasional Spotless Starling as I made my way up to the Visitors Centre car par.  Steady driving as every Ibex seemed to have come down to the road and neighbouring bushes and, again, lots of, now well-grown, youngsters.  Good sightings of both Crested Lark and Rock Sparrows as we reached the rocky part of the drive.

Sitting in the car tucked away in the far corner i watched small charms of feeding Goldfinch along with the first Black Redstart and a Blackbird.  A pair of Sardinian Warblers was very active and once I set off to walk towards the mirador I also picked up Melodious Warbler and more Black Redstarts along with yet another Ibex.  Also noted were Crested lark, Barn Swallow and a single Blue Rock Thrush plus a juvenile Cirl Bunting.

Juvenile Black Redstart Colirrojo  Tizon Phoenicurus ohruros?
Early morning after a hard night on the tiles, I know the feeling!
Moving over to Fuente de Piedra as expected the tide was out and huge barren, salt-encrusted pan left behind.  Whilst there was a tight grouping of in excess of 200 Flamingos near the little water available; at the inflow, I was surprised to note an extremely shallow puddle almost below the mirador.  So forget the Jackdaw behind me as I counted about a score of Flamingos along with many feeding Ringed Plovers, a Common Sandpiper and an Avocet.  Closer inspection also produced the first Kentish Plover.

Woodchat shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator; adult above and juvenile below
Recording Blackbird and more Goldfinches as I made my way to the laguneta at the rear of the site I noted that, even here, the water level had dropped and a new stony island had appeared.  More Flamingos then both Coot and Moorhen before checking out the ducks where I eventually found Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall, Shelduck and a couple of White-headed Duck.  A few Ringed and Kentish Plovers foraging on the various muddy shores and the the first of the Little Ringed Plovers.  In addition to another Common Sandpiper I also managed a single Wood and Green Sandpiper.  And I must not forget the lone Black-tailed Godwit and the Lapwing that wandered along the far side - until he saw the Fox and made a hasty retreat!.

Mainly House Martins and Barn Swallows feeding over the water along with a pair of Common Swifts but no sign of a gull nor a tern.  It was very surprising to find a young Cattle Egret resting behind some stones and only a handful of Black-winged Stilts were recorded.  A pair of Little Grebes were feeding on the water with another family on the adjacent small pool and a single Grey Heron put in an appearance.  On the other hand, lovely to see a Red-rumped Swallow as I made my way back to the car and the return journey home plus, naturally, a few Collared Doves.

A few of the Ibex Capra pyrenaica hispanica seen on the road up to El Torcal

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Green sandpiper, Wood sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting.

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

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