Thursday, 5 December 2019

Laguna Dulce

Wednesday 4 December

Laguna Dulce for the Cranes Grulla Comun Grus grus 
Having decided there would be more birds at the Laguna Dulce near Campillos, the fifty minute drive over from the Guadalhorce in Malaga proved correct but, even so, not as many as I would have expected and despite the heavy rain of the previous two days the water levels, if anything, seemed down a little.  Hundreds of Coots to be seen but certainly not the massive number of White-headed Ducks recorded on my recent visit, probably less than fifty individuals and these were well spread.

Nearer to hand from the hide I could find many Little Grebe and a good number of Gadwall before finding a reasonable number of Mallard.  A trio of Moorhen were foraging to my right whilst on the other side of the hide I watched a trio of Purple Swamphen swimming out into the main water before they took flight and headed back towards the shore in the small bay.  Also in the bay a handful of Teal and a similar number of Black-winged Stilts.

Two of the Purple Swaphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio as they pass a Mallard Anade Azulon Anas platyrhynchos
Scanning the water I was please to find so many Black-necked Grebes and a large number of Black-headed Gulls.  Whilst also noting the Lesser Black-backed Gulls I also found a pair of Red-crested Pochard.  meanwhile, over the water numerous Crag Martins were feeding and then I noted a handful of Lapwing making their way towards me.  far off to the right, almost out of sight, my first sighting of a small number of feeding Cranes on the arable fields.

In the uncovered are below the hide a number of Chiffchaff were feeding in the small trees along with both Black Redstarts and a male Blackcap.  A Great Tit and couple of Goldfinches came to join them whilst on the far side of the water many of the smaller bird took to the air as a Marsh Harrier quartered the area. My final bird was a Flamingo that few across the main water in front of me to the bay to my left.

Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicoptrus roseus
Driving round to the back of the water I found the tracks had now become very muddy with water in the, sometime, deep ruts.  keeping the wheels turning I made my way along adding both Stonechat and a trio of Cattle Egrets resting in tree tops near the first farm.  Approaching the ruined farm I noticed that the small scrape now held water and at that point a Buzzard moved off from the side of the track.  A small charm of Goldfinches before reaching the bird tower but no jackdaws in residence albeit another Buzzard took flight from the same area.

Greater Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicoptrus roseus flying over White-headed Ducks and Black-necked Grebe
It was as I was approaching the large ruin on the right that I found the main Crane flock and counted well over 500 individuals as they flew away to a new feeding area to my left.  Then onwards through an even more muddy track till I had to stop, barely 100 metres form the exit to join the road.  Not only was the mud now wetter and the ruts deeper but at the bottom of the dip a very deep stretch of muddy water that would, I imagine, have been only passable using a large-wheeled tractor.  So, turn the car round and back up the muddy track followed by five or six kilometres slipping and sliding my way back to the Laguna Dulce!  The only new birds recorded on the return trip were a handful of Linnets and a Hoopoe.

Just a few of the 500+ Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus
But what a way to go!  No visit to Fuente de Piedra but as I approached the water itself a Kestrel flew over the road towards the hide and two more few found on the next three electricity posts.  Even better, the next post held a Black-shouldered Kite and the, about two posts on, an Iberian Grey Shrike resting on thew wires; three unexpected species to add to the morning's visit.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet.


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