13 April, Fuente de Piedra

Yes, I know, late again but I've been busy with some translating of seabird papers and it's mind-bending at times and I'm just half way through some 33! At any rate, you should have read Dave's blog on the Sierra de Filabres, which gave me extra breathing space, so now the one on this last Wednesday morning (13/04) along with Andrés Serrano and Juan Oñate.

We had an 09.30 start and actually walked little, basically looking around the ponds by the information centre (the new information sheet in English should be published soon) and then walking along the walkway and path to the road which leads from Fuente de Piedra to Sierra de Yeguas, signposted for 'La Vicaria', and which turned out to be exceedingly fruitful.

Although we had a nice number of passerines, including our first Great Reed Warbler of the year doing its swee-swee-churr-churr-honk-honk act which passes as singing, as well as its small relative the ordinary Reed Warbler, a smashing male iberiae race Yellow Wagtail and 6 or so late Sand Martins, it was the waders that stole the morning, and that in spite of a pair of Shelduck, some Pochards and a few Shovelers, not to mention several thousand Greater Flamingos out on the lake, but with no sign of Lesser Flamingos- the first thing I has scanned for from the mirador, but wait until the end of this blog for that news.

Both Andrés and Juan were keen to see a Marsh Sandpiper and we turned up lucky, my second of the spring which is being remarkable for the number of records : 2 at the Guadalhorce some 11 days since, the bird at Fuente on 7 April which I saw, then 2 seen there on 12 April with the one we saw obviously one of those, and another at laguna Herrera the same day for grand total of 5 birds, which may not sound much but really is a major influx for us. The bird today was really cooperative and showed exceedingly well, even allowing a comparison with one of the 6 or 7 Wood Sandpipers present and I was able to get a good comparison photo.

The Marsh Sand. occupied a lot of our time but we also had a good look at the other waders, including a nice little mixed flock of some 19 Little Stints, 4 Ringed Plovers , a couple of Little Ringed Plovers and some 10-11 Curlew Sandpipers, one of them showing the darkest chestnut plumage that any of us have ever seen (below, in the middle on the left). A Ruff seen from the mirador early on was never seen again and there was flock of some 40 Green Sandpipers which thoughtlessly plonked down out of sight. There were, of course, the usual lunatic asylum escapees in the form of Black-winged Stilts, as well as some Avocets and, regrettably, a Black-tailed Godwit with an injured right outer wing which looked liked a dislocation of the outer carpal bones from the odd angle. We had some reasonable views of Gull-billed Terns and distant views of 2 immature Marsh Harriers and a single male Lesser Kestrel.

I actually had the best raptor of the day along the A-92 autovía about 3 kms E of Fuente de Piedra on the way home - a Black-shouldered Kite circling over the fast lane!

Finally, the news is that a pair of Lesser Flamingos are present in the colony and appear to be settling down well, this from the director, Manolo Rendón. Will they breed this year successfully? Keep watching this space.

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