25 /12 : Fuente de Piedra

As I am not in to decking halls with boughs of holly and all that sort of thing, and the family wouldn't buy me a boat like this below to go out to watch seabirds, I was out early - crossing with the son as he came in from a night on the tiles - and went birding to Fuente de Piedra and the laguna Dulce (Campilllos) this Yuletide morning, and a jolly sensible decision it was! Mind you, this little Robin found quite a lot to sing about on a well nigh perfect morning with clear skies and no wind!

There were plenty of Greater Flamingos scattered across the lake but I was in search of a Lesser Flamingo and quickly found one and although this is a very long range shot I think that it clearly shows the size and colour differences which make them far easier to pick out usually, unless they are standing behind one of their big cousins!

There were quite a few ducks, indeed the predominant sound was that of Teal chirruping away to each other as well as plenty of Shovelers, although not so many as last year at the same date, and the ubiquitous Mallards and a single Shelduck. When it came to waders the only species to be seen were a few Black-winged Stilts and a single Avocet while amongst the few Lapwings this one had decided to have a bath!

There were, of course, the usual Stonechats, male above female here on the left, but I was very pleased to see this Southern Grey Shrike (right) which has, I see, been rebaptised by a recent best selling guide as Iberian Grey Shrike, although its blessing as a permant name is still a doubtful one. Note the hooked bill and take my word for it that getting nipped by one in the soft flesh between fingers is extremely painful and bloody, as a Great Grey proved when it got me many moons ago and far away when it was being ringed at Spurn in Yorkshire.
I had very brief views of a Water Pipit, very possibly the same bird that Bob and I saw a week since, and the Meadow Pipit (left) was much more obliging.
I saw a couple of Marsh Harriers too at Fuente and around 350 Cranes before making a quick visit to the Laguna Dulce at Campillos to see what was going on there before I ran out of time. Leaving aside the myriad Coots at the laguna, there was a marked paucity of ducks, although some distant Red-crested Pochards showed well through the telescope. More surprising was the number of Marsh Harriers with no less than 5 females and a single juvenile/1st winter bird, plus a distant and very unsatisfactorily brief view of an eagle of some sort before it disappeared over the crest of the hill. And thus homewards, leaving me with brief views of singles of Raven and Black-shouldered Kite over the autovía which made dstopping impossible and which rounded off Christmas morning very nicely and without and mistletoe, holly or ivy.

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