19 February, Fuente de Piedra.

First, some unfortunate news. I have just heard from Gilly Elliott-Binns that Dave, who has supplied so much information to this blog under the aegis of the Arboleas Birding Group, has had a major heart-attack today. He is responding to treatment and I am sure that all you who have read his reports and been jealous of what he and Gilly were seeing in Almería will join me in whatever power of thought or prayer that you may or not happen to believe in but basically wish him a rapid recovery, and of Gilly who is obviously most stressed. I shall endeavour to keep informed through this blog as I hear news.

So, on to today's birding which looked doubtful give the weather situation even up to 06.00 this morning after a very wet night here. after which the wind got up. I was very fortunate in that I was joined by an old friend who I have known for around 50 something years, a fellow seawatcher from Filey Brigg, and it gave me immense pleasure to take him and a birding friend of his up to the Laguna Dulce at Campillos and then on to Fuente de Piedra. They had a great time as well, even though there was nothing out of the ordinary and it was damned cold in the wind too.

Of course, and for the benefit of those outside Andalucía, it has been raining - so much that some have been looking up for the plans for an ark in google and all about cubits and that sort of thing. The effect on the country has been enormous. There has been huge flooding in some areas. In Cádiz province, for example, La Janda is under water, the reservoirs are having to discharge water as they are literally overflowing, rivers are in full, mucky brown flood (I shan't go more into the colouration) and the sea is stained brown to the horizon off Málaga-Torremolinos and Fuengirola.

So, on a very cold but at least not raining morning, we arrived first at the Laguna Dulce just ouside Campillos. It is, of course, over full, the fields around are flooded and there wasn't a sign of a Little Bustard where they normally hang out. The rabbits are on the surface as it must be sodden and they must need scuba gear to get in to their burrows. Surprisingly, there were few aquatic species than last time I was there with only a pair of Great Crested Grebes visible and about 6 Black-necked, although one of these was already in full breeding plumage, a rather splendid little bird. A small, probably about 30 birds, of Flamingos was feeding over on the far bank and there were a few Mallard and Pochard, Shoveler numbers had dwindled notably and a couple of Teal only and a small flock of about 14 Red-crested Pochards, beautiful things to see as most were males. There must have been a couple of hundred Lapwings in the soggy fields and I briefly picked up a distant flock of Calandra Larks.

From there we went on to Fuente de Piedra, going across the western end and seeing virtually no Flamingos at all except a small, distant flock and nearer small numbers of Cranes, which made Ron vey happy as he has them on his list of favourite species. He was to get even happier later after we had stopped at Cantarranas as there were birds spread out over the fields in front there and nearer to Fuente de Piedra. Mind you, I admit that I agree with him, listening to them 'talking' to each other is one of the great sounds of nature (along with listening to Great Northern or Black-throated Divers). We saw little else there except the same fox as I have seen on two previous occasions since December, except that this time he caught what I think must have been a Moorhen (it looked very black and there were no Coots in sight) and was last seen trotting off with his lunch.

On the road to the information centre, remodelled and now open with a tremendous picture window overlooking the lake, we saw more Cranes (the photos shown here were these birds) and also 5 Redshanks which took off and overflew us. As we turned off the road on to the lane up to the centre we saw the first of many Swallows, possibly as many as 50 during the course of the time there, lower numbers of House Martins and 1 each of Sand Martin and Crag Martin. All we needed for a full house was Red-rumped Swallow, but t'was not to be. These hirundines must be having a very hard time finding enough insects to maintain their strength with the mix of low temperatures and strong winds. On the rough land to the right where there have been Stone Curlews all winter there was not one but some 13 or so Dunlins feeding, later we were to get a maximum count at once of some 32-33 birds on the flash.

On the same flash there were some Flamingos feeding when we went in but they must have been sated when we left as the photo shows. Nearly all the Shovelers had gone and there was a solitary Avocet and the previously referred to Dunlin. No Bluethroat today and only one Meadow Pipit, a miserable list but at least Ron and Ian had enjoyed themselves greatly, and though it was cold we saw the sun!

No hay comentarios: