24 April, Fuente de Piedra

A lovely morning at Fuente de Piedra with Peter Jones, Bob Wright, Bob Hibbett and a slew of others from the Andalucia Birding Society who all combined to make it a great morning's birding, with the lake showing at its very best and myself with the aim of trying out a new camera and telephoto lens, the first reuslts of which are here. This is, therefore, a short report only.

I started out early with a short visit to the Laguna Dulce which is still full to overflowing and with a goodly population of Flamingos, most of which appear to be outside what would normally be the normal lakeside vegetation. This in turn means that there is little cover for aquatic birds to breed. On the other hand, the water level has fallen slightly so there is some mud in the fields to the right of the lagoon and around these areas there were a few Lapwings, which means that they may well try to breed as they have done so before, a single Little Stint and a couple of Green Sandpipers, plus some very pretty little male Kentish Plovers with their ginger caps and, naturally, the Black-winged Stilts.

From there it was on to Fuente de Piedra which is solid with Flamingos, there apparently being some 8 or 9 minor colonies rather than a couple of big ones, these can be seen from the western end of the lake. There were also an awful lot of people and, once more, not a single warden in sight. This morning we took the board walk towards El Vicario, although we only got as far as the road. I managed to miss a Great Spotted Cuckoo, but did we did find a rather odd duck, some sort of Shoveler, either a hybrid with something like South American Shoveler or, according to a friend in Brisbane, possibly South American x Australian Shoveler - an interesting looking bird which made the heart jump at least! (photo).

In the wader line, there was tight resting flock of some 20 Ruff, all females as faras could be made out, a whole slew of noisy Redshanks, most on the far side of the road, at least 120 I estimated on the way in, 10+ Little Stints and lots of Avocets and Stilts, I heard a Greenshank and also a Grey Plover and saw Ringed Plover, there being also quite a few Little Ringed Plovers. There were 3 or 4 Wood Sandpipers which were showing well, a very delicate wader this, and a single Common Sandpiper. Two male Iberian race Yellow Wagtails kept up a territorial struggle most of the time we were on the path and there was a surprising number of Sand Martins still around, plus plenty of Barn Swallows.

And last, but not least, was the presence of 2 Squacco Herons which flew off, landed on the far side of the reeds and stalked back through and allowed a photograph.
And although not birds, they do fly, there are goodly numbers of Painted Lady butterflies around.

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