28 December, Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

This will be the last post for 2010. Late yet again but I didn't want particularly to interfere with that of Dave on the same date from Cabo de Gata. So before starting and finishing off what will be a brief one.

This last Tuesday I took an ex-colleague and his father, an 80+ birder, on a brief morning trip around the laguna Dulce (Campillos) and to Fuente de Piedra in order to show im something different. It was a still morning, no wind but very humid and a slightly misty, diaphanous look about everything until late in the morning.

The laguna Dulce was remarkably devoid of waterbirds after the huge numbers of recent months and upon which I have commented here.For example, the 92+ White-headed Ducks I counted back on 13 November had reduced to no more than 5 or 6 birds visible - which may be why numbers are starting to rise at the Guadalhorce with a pre-breeding dispersal to the breeding areas, and numbers of everything else have fallen by, I reckon, at least 20 fold. In fact, the only species of which the numbers had risen was the Lapwing, while there were some Black-necked Grebes and Pochards way out on the laguna and a small band of Flamingos way over. There were at least 2, probably 3, Marsh Harriers but not a single Little Bustard to be seen. I rather suspect that there is too much disturbance for them at the present time.

At Fuente de Piedra I was particularly interested in showing them the Cranes and not just distant views but nice and close and neither they, nor myself,were to be disappointed, as the photographs below illustrate and of which we had splendid views.

As usual, the field on the right as one drives in where there is the tower of unknown origin and usage there was a small flock of Stone Curlews but less than normal, possibly because of the rather damp conditions. Because of the slight mist and diffused light, trying to pick out any errant Lesser Flamingos amongst the relatively few Flamingos was a well nigh impossible task but there were several hundred Shovelers and on the laguneto del Pueblo, behind the remodelled information centre, there were a few Coot and Teal and couple of Snipe.

There were more Coot on the flahes by the centre and this little party of Black-winged Stilts, one of which - a male - had incredibly heavy head and neck markings much more reminscent of the Black-necked Stilts of the West Indies but it immediately settled down and went to sleep and I was unable to get any shot of it but it was an interesting bird. But while there was a general dearth of waders, there was absolutely no lack of Chiffchaffs feeding everywhere in the sun once that came out but no sign of any Bluethroat such as the one which had shown itself so well last winter.

So, thus endeth 2010. My thanks to those who are brave enough to read all this, to those who comment, and especially to Dave and Gilly Elliott-Binns for their reports from Almería which undoubtedly enliven things, to all of you, whoever you are and wherever you are ....

good birding for 2011 and a happy and healthy New Year!

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