Thursday 25 March 2021

Fuente de Piedra & Laguna Dulca

 Wednesday 24 March

Fuente de Piedra Yellow Wagtails Lavendera Boyera iberica Motacilla flava iberiae

The idea was to be at Fuente de Piedra as early as possible in order to check out the hirundines before the expected heat took them higher and higher.  In the event, as assuming they were actually present, not one to be seen when I arrived just before 9 o'clock other than a single Barn Swallow as I crossed the railway bridge.  Indeed, not even a House Martin to be seen in the village albeit the White Storks were huddled down on their nest atop the tall chimney.

Entering the site I stopped to admire the Flamingos and Black-winged Stilts on the flooded field which also held a handful of Spotless Starlings. then, once parked up, it was straight to the boardwalk which I noticed was already occupied by three birders.  A Little Ringed Plover to my right and a couple on a small sand bank up against the reeds on my left which appeared to be the attraction of the above birders.  Moving further along so that I could look behind the small, grassy island, I was in time to see the arrival of a Water Rail; good way to start the morning. Then on to the far ide where checking the large field in front of me I observed a large number of Yellow wagtails of the Iberian sub-species but also one British flavissima sub-species along with a couple of White Wagtails.  The nest building held a good number of Jackdaw and scanning the bushes between the boardwalk pool and main laguna I found no less than three Woodchat Shrike perching, as is their want, on top of low bushes and happy to remain so for minutes on end.  Looking at the distant lake I could see a number of Gull-billed Terns flying close to the nearest edge to me and on a nearby tree a Meadow Pipit came to rest.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius with White Wagtail Motacilla blanca 

Time to return to the reserve proper and as I made my way back to the boardwalk a large mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows landed on the bare soil immediately in front of me.  the birders, now five, were still on the boardwalk in the same place overlooking an area close to the grassy island and one informed me that they were awaiting the appearance of a Spotted Crake, all cameras to hand.  Whilst awaiting the happening I looked back to the far end of the boardwalk and saw a Moorhen crossing the water and at least a score of the Yellow Wagtails had arrived to rest in the small bushes at the edge of the water.  Great photo opportunity for all.  

Spotted Crake Polluela Pintoja Porzana porzana

No sooner had we watched the Yellow Wagtails than the Spotted Crake flew out of the grasses to the far side giving an excellent view before disappearing inside the reeds - but not before I had managed to get one photo!  Leaving the Little Ringed Plovers to continue their scavenging and the birders trying to once again locate the Spotted Crake as a handful of Goldfinch flew over, I made my way back and on towards the scrape, which was now dry, and up to the Visitors centre for a better overall look over the main laguna.  A dozen Linnet were moving around the area and a good number of jackdaws had arrived at the building.  Out on the laguna thousands of Flamingos could be seen and nearer, on a sandbank, a score or more of Gull-billed Terns were resting alongside  many Black-headed GullsLesser Black-backed Gulls were much further away.  Also near the sandbank in a large pool a single Shelduck was recorded along with a couple of Redshank.

Gull-billed Terns Sterna nilotica (extreme right) with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

On round to the back and some time ion my own in the hide overlooking the Laguneto where, again, many Flamingos were present.  Also a few Coot and looking closer I also added a trio of Shoveler, pair of Mallard, Gadwall and a couple of White-headed Ducks.  Very few Little Grebe but I did also manage to locate a pair of Avocet and it turned out that Red-crested Pochard were the most numerous ducks on the water.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus

As I made my way back to the car park I added a couple of Greenfinch, Blackbird and a Hoopoe was busy calling away to my left.  Changing my mind, I brought the car to a halt when I reached the flooded field and gave it a last study.  A Redshank had arrived on the far side and at the far end towards the main road a Raven crossed over on its way westwards.  Having stopped, I also took the opportunity to pay one last visit to the boardwalk and whilst I did not see the Spotted Crake I did take the opportunity to watch the circling Buzzard above my head.  Despite their being still a handful of Spanish birders present, only one took the slightest interest to take a look at the Buzzard almost immediately above their heads! Then a pair of Kestrel as I left the site.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

And so on to the Laguna Dulce in Campanillos via a very short stop at the Mirador Cantarranas which produced both Cetti's Warbler and Corn Bunting.  Along the road at the back of the laguna I also recorded both Sardinian Warbler and Crested Lark.

Arriving at Laguna Dulce I had the site to myself and water was certainly still full of Coot along with many Flamingos and Black-headed Gulls.  Also present a number of lesser Black-backed Gulls and a good number of Gull-billed Terns feeding over the water.  Cetti's Warblers and House Sparrows were around the hide whilst on the water itself I found a handful of Black-necked Grebes along with a similar number of Little Grebes.  Ducks seemed to be mainly Common and Red-crested Pochards plus Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard until I found the main flock of White-headed Ducks; there must have been still at least thirty in residence.  

Movement on the far side put up a lone Lapwing and also revealed a number of Black-winged Stilts.  A Moorhen paddled along the reed edge and decided to take a short drive round to the back of the laguna where I found more Yellow Wagtails, Corn Bunting and Crested Larks.  Working my way ack I stopped to use the telescope on a suspicious dark shape in a hidden pool at the edge of the main water and was able to confirm the sighting of a Glossy Ibis.  Not having seen a single Collared Dove nor House Martin all morning I rejoined the main road back to Malaga by driving through Campanillos itself where, as you might expect, both were added to the morning's list of species.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae

My final ten miute stop was at he bottom of the Pennarrubia cliff face to look for Griffon Vultures.  Just the one seen but over a score of Red-billed Choughs were observed along with another Sardinian Warbler near the car.  The end of a most enjoyable morning which produced over 50 species including six new for the year.

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard,  Kestrel, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail (Iberian), Yellow Wagtail (British), White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Chough, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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