Collected visiting neighbour and birder from Holland, Lissette and drove over to Fuente de Piedra for the January meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society. Cloudy and a coll 12C when we left and still very cloudy and a much colder 7C for the morning. Approaching the village we recorded both a Red Kite and a Buzzard along with a field of, maybe, 60 or so Cattle Egrets and a single Heron. A couple of Azure-winged Magpie crossed the road in front of us and the first White Wagtail of the morning was also seen.
Once on site we immediately encountered a mas of gulls on the ploughed field to our right. Hundreds of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with about an hundred Jackdaw. And patiently roosting in front, in almost a straight line, about fifty Stone Curlew. The flooded scrape on the opposite side of the road was empty apart from a trio of Black-winged Stilts and a Chiffchaff flitting about in the roadside trees.
|Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus|
Once in the car park we picked up both House Sparrows and Black Redstart and could see the resident Rock Doves on the far buildings. With most of the group heading off for the boardwalk I took myself along the bottom path and up to the laguneta at the back of the Visitors Centre. So much water at the moment and I have never seen this capacity before; no wonder there were no waders to be seen apart from the Back-winged Stilts. Thousands of Flamingos on the misty main water along with more gulls. To the right a score or more of Shoveler plus Shelduck, a few Moorhen and Coot.
Walking to the main hide at the back I came first across a single male Chaffinch and then a fleeting glimpse of a Redwing as it made a hurried departure plus more House Sparrows. The small pool was not as active as I might have imagined but, in addition to the many Shoveler and Mallard, I did manage to record a quartet of Teal and seven White-headed Duck. Just the one Little Grebe and more Coots.
|Moorhen Gallinula chloropus with White-headed Ducks Malvasia cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala behind|
Once back outside the hide I watched the passage of Spotless Starlings and then a Marsh Harrier. A couple of Blackbirds were resting atop the taller trees and then a charm of Goldfinch and a single female Greenfinch in addition to the feeding Blackcap. A Sardinan Warbler dashed past in front of me.
|How many Stone Curlews can you find?|
A long break for the Annual meeting of the Society and then Lisette and I made our way round the back of the site towards the Laguna Dulce near Campillas. A Lapwing was at the edge of the flooded field, now on our right, and we we stopped to check out the Stone Curlews, the gulls having already departed to the main water. A Hoopoe flew through the orchard at the end of the entrance road and no sooner round towards the Mirador Vicaria than we stopped to look at a tree full of Spanish Sparrows. The posts on newly-planted olive grove produced our first a Iberian Grey Shrike and then a Black Redstart before spotting our first Cranes to the left. Just a family of three with a further handful a little further on.
|Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis through the car windscreen|
|The first Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus seen this year|
My word this lake was full to overflowing; never seen so much water in my sixteen years here. Mainly Coots on the water but diligent searching with scope and bins soon found at least a quartet of Great Crested Grebes and a large flock of Common Pochard. At the far back to our right we also managed to find a tight group f about eight Red-crested Pochard.
|Sleeping Great Crested Grebe Somormujo Lavanco Podiceps cristatus|
Looking across to the far side we could see three cars form our group and behind where they had stopped a large flock of Cranes. What better o do than drive round to the back of this now very large and flooded laguna. As we left we had a Great Tit and Chaffinch in the neighbouring trees and picked up a Crested Lark once we had entered the track to the back of the water. The first of two Stonechats were seen and then a Kestrel. Very late in the day but we were to see three more before our departure for home. We certainly found the Crane flock. Fist a group of about thirty but upon turning to drive back along the track and towards the main road we saw another flock of at least 250. Maybe a hundred metres further on we stopped for another look at what we though t might be the other side of the flock and estimated not hundreds but probably in excess of a thousand individuals. Wow! Continuing on we duly picked up the splitting flock of Calandra Larks along with many more White Wagtails.
|Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus seen on the horizon|
|Part of the thousand-plus Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus flock seen in the late afternoon|
Shelduck, Mallard, Shelduck, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Sonechat, Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linet, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information