Thursday 14 February 2019

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus
Wednesday 13 February

A beautiful, clear sunny day but shame about the strong wind.  Lots of fun and birds with visiting American birders from Pennsylvania, Jon and Nancy Leven along with their friends David and Betsy.  Off from Torremolinos just before 9.30 to Laguna Dulce then Fuente de Piera and not back till dark and well after 7pm - but we did take the scenic route back from Fuente de Piedra so that we could drive around the Guadalhorce lakes.

Approaching Campanillos we stopped to check out the cliff face at the Teba turn and were rewarded not with just a dozen Griffon Vultures gliding along the top and nearer but also a flock of about an hundred Chough.  Also present were Crag Martins and we even had our first of at least five Common kestrels seen during the day.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrocorax
Approaching the Laguna Dulce we stopped to check out the flooded fields on our right and, again, were well rewarded by a good range of birds including a couple of foraging Meadow Pipits in front of the car.  On the water itself, apart from the many Black-headed Gulls, were a number of Black-winged Stilts, Dunlin and a Redshank along with the many White Wagtails.  Further study produced a couple of Avocet and a handful of Shelduck, Ringed Plover and Lesser Back-backed Gulls.  However, I suspect my American guests were more impressed with the Lapwing.

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus
At the laguna itself the water level was still very high but I suspect the number of Coots had considerably diminished since my last visit a fortnight ago.  Lots of Common Pochard to be seen and then the finding of maybe more than twenty Red-crested Pochard.  Also present were at least two dozen White-headed Ducks.  Whilst there was a good number of Black-necked Grebes present, Great Crested Grebe numbers were not only down but the birds were much further away than usual.  We had a distant female marsh harrier quartering the back of the water and immediately in front of the hide a foraging Chiffchaff.  A female Black Redstart beat a hasty retreat from behind the fence and having found the wintering Crane on the far side of the water it was time to drive round to the track on the other side.

White-headed Ducks  Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala with both Common and Red-crested Pochard at top
No sooner had we arrived than a flock of about thirty Golden Plover wheeled around in the air immediately above the car but being very windy and with the sun in our faces it made taking good photographs of the Cranes more difficult but we perceived.  Also found on the far side were many more Coots and Lapwing plus, of course, White Wagtails and the expected Crested Larks and Corn Bunting plus a Sky Lark.  We also added Stonechat to our sightings and near the old farm found a Little Grebe on the pool at the side of the track.  having taken a chance that the track might now be passable to the end we pressed on but then came to the "gate" in the form of deep, flooded ruts and half the track missing with a gaping hole to the right!  Nothing for it but to turn round and retrace our steps so to speak but as we made our way back we did did get a glance at  female Hen Harrier above the olive trees followed by a small charm of Goldfinch; so not all bad news.  Ant then a lone Cattle Egret as we reached the end of the track and another male Common Kestrel resting on the wires above.

Common Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus
Having been informed of a nearby flock of Flamingos we made our way to a flooded field next to the road just before reaching the small pool and hide south of Campillos.  I counted a 101 Flamingos along with a few more Black-winged Stilts, a couple of Ringed Plover and more White Wagtails.

Then it was on to Fuente de Piedra and lunch.  Approaching the working farm on the junction so that we could take the anti-clockwise circuit to the village, we picked up our first Spotless Starlings plus more Stonechat.

Plenty of Black-necked Grebes Zampullin Cuellinegro Podiceps nigricollis

Our inner bodies now satisfied we made our way to the laguna as we approached the car park the flooded field to lour left held Black-winged Stilts and Black-headed Gulls plus a good number of Jackdaw on the bank.  At the far side two pairs of Common Teal were noted.  Viewed from the mirador next to the old tree, thousands of Flamingos could be seen n the distance and to our right we also came across the first Shoveler of the day.  The scrape produced a couple of Moorhen and then it was time to visit the main hide overlooking the laguneta.

Just a few of the Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus plus Gadwall Anade Friso Anas strepera (to left)
Lovey to see relatively close Flamingos and beautiful Teal and Shoveler.  Still a few Red-crested Pochard and even a two pairs of GadwallLittle Grebes were feeding and then the wonderful sight of a female Marsh Harrier quartering the pool and giving excellent views to all.  Not just the Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls but even a handful of Barn Swallows flying across the water.  As for the Coots, we noticed that one pair already had four thriving chicks happily paddling about the water - just waiting to be picked up by the quartering Marsh Harrier.  And if not one of the small chicks then certainly something else that had been sheltering in the long grass on the opposite side of the water from the hide.

Marsh Harrier Aguilucho lagunero Circus aeruginosus on the hunt for lunch
Finally setting off for home continuing on an anti-clockwise circuit so that we would link up again at the farm, we noted that had we been able to continuing on the connecting track mentioned above then we would have been defeated within thirty yards of the exit as the track is still submerged in a deep river and enough mud to last a lifetime!  Probably just as well that we stopped earlier on.  Now lots of Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows around the farm as we made our way onwards to the Guadalhorce lakes and Torremolinos.  More Blackbirds to add to the two males sitting on the wall outside the hotel in Torremolinos and  a dozen Cattle Egret flying back to their roost for the night.  A most enjoyable day in wonderful company and a final count of 47 species.

Red-crested pato Colorado Netta rufina and Common Pochards porron Europea Aythya ferina along with the Coots Focha Comun Fulica atra

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Back-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

More of the Crane flock Grulla Comun Grus grus

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