Fuente de Piedra

To Fuente de Piedra this morning with Bob Hibbett and we couldn't have chosen a better morning. To put it simply, it was Fuente de Piedra at its best, absolutely outstanding, a morning to remember. But why? you ask, and the reply follows.

For a start off, a beautiful morning with little wind and the sun shining, then shore to shore solid with Flamingos, heaven knows how many but at a guesstimate, not less than 20.000 scattered the length and breadth of the laguna. And in addition 3 Lesser Flamingos were showing sufficiently well to be able to be sure that none carried a ring of any sort.

But it was the waders that stole the morning, all 17 species of them and many close, a paradise for wader watchers and a gift for those who are learning waders. All of these were concentrated in the relatively new fresh water flash between the entry from the village and the information centre car park, with a short walk around in front of the mirador. I don't think that Bob would disagree with me that it was spellbinding.

There were Little Stints everywhere, well over a hundred I would think, and many in beautiful breeding plumage. Bob wanted to see Temminck's Stint, he saw 2 at about 25m range! You name it, we saw it, except for the Pectoral Sandpiper which had been seen Thursday, and neither did we see a Spotted Redshank, which would have been nice.

There were Curlew Sandpipers in every state of plumage possible, but those which were already in full breeding plumage were downright gorgeous. Possibly the biggest surprise was the presence of 2 male Ruff in virtually full breeding plumage and another well on the way, even displaying as they would on the leks, superb. I think that this is the first time that I have ever seen them in this state of breeding plumage down here and Angel, who was photographing them, was over the moon and has promised me a photo in the next few days, which I shall incorporate later. I shall put a full list of the waders at the end, so as not to bore.

There were plenty of Gull-billed Terns floating around and also several Whiskered Terns, both very smart species. Less to my liking were a few Yellow-legged Gulls, mostly immatures, but a pair of adults looked as they could be taking up residence on one of the islands on the little lagoon behind the centre, which would be bad news as they rob flamingo eggs mercilessly. There too was a single Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Stone Curlews pretending that we couldn't see them, although one realised its error and flew off.

And just in case you think that we were only looking at waders, the countryside was spectacular with flowers. OK, diversion over, let's not get carried away, shall we? Back to birds.

There was a Great Reed Warbler singing away noisily in the pond by the second hide, a big bird for a warbler, easily seen as they get right up in the top of the reeds and the song is a very robust swee-swee-churr-churr-honk-honk sort of affair, definitely not the sweet song of a Nightingale, and if you look sufficiently hard you can see their tonsils while they sing their heads off!

To end off the morning, we went around the laguna and at the west end a male Montagu's Harrier came floating across the wheat, dropped down and then rose with a small rodent of some sort in its talons, which was spectacular from our point of view but I have a feeling that the little rodent couldn't have been too happy about it.

Wader list (in no order at all): Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Ruff, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Pratincole (yes, these are waders!) Black-tailed Godwit.

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