13 November, Laguna Dulce (Campillos ) & Fuente de Piedra

This is a short blog about a super morning's birding in bright sunshine and zero wind, along with the always pleasant company of Federico. The first stop was the laguna Dulce just outside Campillos which remains full of waterbirds, all except the one which I really wanted to see - Ferruginous Duck. As we stopped a party of 7 Red-legged Partridges scurried along the lake side but I have a nasty feeling that there won't be that many of the family around as I write because the hunters were out with dogs, which in turn meant that there wasn't a sign of Little Bustards. A solitary juv. Marsh Harrier floated over the laguna but didn't disturb a single duck.

There were 3 spp. of grebes, and although I didn't carry out even a rough count I had the distinct impression that the numbers of Black-necked had increased since my previous visit while Great Crested remained about the same and there were very few Little Grebes. Ducks there were a-plenty, from Mallard, plenty of Pochards - a couple of hundred at a guesstimate but fewer Red-crested Pochards, less than 10 certainly. A quick count of White-headed Ducks gave a minimum of 92 birds, which isn't at all bad. There were a few Teal way over on the far side and a few Gadwall mixed in with the Pochards. A solitary Snipe gave quite decent views more or less 40 m in front of the hide and there were plenty of Chiffchaffs feeding in the reeds and tamarisks.

From there it was a short run to Fuente de Piedra.taking the road round the back towards Sierra de Yeguas. On the way we flushed a Southern Grey Shrike, a nice bird to see at any time. Once stopped on the top overlooking the laguna from the western end we were amazed at the total lack of Flamingos, I don't think we saw more than a dozen all morning and those were juvenile birds. There was some compensation in the form of several groups of Cranes, around 70 in all, as well as a solitary White Stork. Later we were to be treated to close views of a family party of mum, dad and the 2 youngsters (left). At the same end there were good numbers of Shovelers and 6 Shelduck, a rather erratic winter visitor at Fuente de Piedra.

From there it was round to the information centre and mirador, stopping to look at the field where there is the tower and whch usually harbours a wintering flock of Stone Curlew and we weren't to be dispappointed. Not that there were many, there weren't, around 22 or so. The difficulty is finding the first one, after which it becomes much easier to spot the rest and slowly the total rises until you are more or less satisfied that you've seen them all. It was here too that this nice little Stonechat showed itself.

From the mirador a look out over the lake showed a huge concentration of ducks over to the right and scoping showed them to be all Shovelers, so what with thosse and the ones at the other end there were easily more than 500 in the laguna (below).
Nearer the mirador there one or two Black-winged Stilts, a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and two small waders which took flight but fortunately Federico had marked them down and we were able to scope them and finish the morning with a 2 Little Stints.

NOTE that there won't be anything more until at least 22 November after the trip to Fuerteventura.

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