26 April, Fuente de Piedra

A brief blog, yes and late again too. A super morning's birding at Fuente de Piedra with Bob Wright (he got his blog online the same afternoon - where does he find the time?). A beautiful morning for birding, with virtually no wind and almost balmy temperatures, even at 9.30 in the morning. Greater Flamingos from here to Christmas and with breeding efforts also taking place in Doñana (where usually they fail because of intrusions by wild boar) and Odiel, plus very probably in at least a couple of lakes of La Mancha, especally La Pétrola (Albacete) and Catalunya. Later in the morning, we saw 3 first summer Greaters, all males by their size, having a bit of a push around (right), obviously trying things out as they hopefully will in future years, should they survive. As to Lesser Flamingos, I ran in to Manolo Rendón, the boss man, and he told me that last week during one day there were 5 birds in the lake, 2 pairs very definitely paired off and a singleton, all in different parts of the main colony. Furthermore, they all took off at dusk in the general direction of Doñana with the Greaters that go to and fro during the hours of darkness.

Bob and I had really gone for the waders but, of course, all is grist to our ornithological mill and amongst the notable birds we saw a remarkably shy Great Reed Warbler (left) which kept playing hide and seek, and a lovely Melodious Warbler - our first of the year and Stephen Daly of Andalucian Guides tells me that he has seen a big influx of these little gems in western Andalucía. The only raptor we saw was a Kestrel and I later saw a male Lesser Kestrel going out of the village on my way home. At this point I should add that yesterday, a birding friend, Andrés Serrano, had an immature Golden Eagle flying over the A-92 autovía near Antequera!

There were the usual ducks of course, including Pochards and Red-crested Pochards, a few Shelducks way out on the lake, whilst Andrés saw a pair of Garganey yesterday. There were also a few Black-necked Grebes out on the lake. The Gull-billed Terns were not feeding in the area of the centre and we saw few, although later one at the far end of the lake, up by Cantarranas, Bob saw several. We did see several Whiskered Terns, including this obliging bird, and a single Black Tern, although yesterday Andrés reckoned that there were at least 100 Black Terns and rather more Whiskereds than we saw.

But the waders were the stars, in particular the Curlew Sandpipers of which there were at least 70 and which were sporting every plumage possible except juvenile/immature, some of the summer plumaged birds being particularly splendid. Surprisingly, there were very few Dunlin, less than 10, and only 5 or 6 Little Stints, rather shy but very bonny coming in to breeding plumage as well as a similar number of Ruffs but no breeding plumage males. Naturally, there were the Black-winged Stilts and the Avocets, these competing for which species could make the most noise.

All in all, a very, very pleasant morning with some very good birding. If you are anywhere near, do go and have alook, it really does offer some splendid chances of observing waders and anything else that happens to be around, such as the Whinchat that Andrés saw yesterday. Birds come and go very quickly at this time of year and what's there now might well be kms away by tonight.

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