24/02 : Laguna Dulce + Fuente de Piedra

As hoped for yesterday, although nothing was certain until the evening, Federico and I were off to the laguna Dulce (Campillos) and Fuente de Piedra, starting at the first before 0930. It was a great morning, both weather- and bird-wise. Sunny, little breeze early on although cool, but warmer later but the wind got up. I should point out that this chronicle has only the one photo, which is by Federico, so you will have to trsy and imagine things.

The laguna Dulce was beautiful in the morning sun and the first thing we did was scan for Cranes, as we could hear distant birds. A count of those on tghe deck gave 350 or so but when they took flight in one long string - can one call it a skein? - what with those and the 80 os so left, there must have been around 450 birds in total. These will be on the long flight north very soon, staging at places like Villafafila and in France en route.

We then turned our attention to the water itself which had a fair covering of Coots and at least 30 Black-necked Grebes but no Great Cresteds. As for ducks, there were quite a few, including 18 Red-crested Pochards, some of the more normal European Pochards, a pair of Gadwall, Mallards of course and a handful of White-headed Ducks. The best by a long way was a very nice male Ferruginous Duck which tied for first place with 3 1st winter Little Gulls!
And just in case you might think that the Ferruginous looks a bit odd, with more white on it than it should have as shown in the guides, apart from the white stern, the white on the side is the white of the secondaries.

There were a few Barn Swallows hawking for insects and a single female Reed Bunting - it's been a pretty good winter for these nice little birds. A fat Corn Bunting uttered its squeaky gate call, always a good give away for this species.

On the way round to Fuente de Piedra, we noted a surprising quantity of Blackcaps (I had seen 5 yesterday in my garden) and went straight round to the information centre from where it was easy to pick up the pair of Lesser Flamingos feeding over to the left amongst their larger cousins. These are the birds that have been around for at least 6 weeks but this is the first time that I have seen them together, other times they have been at opposite ends of the lake. Can it be love?

We ran into Ron Appleby and shiortly thereafter into Bob Wright. Ron had been watching a male Bluethroat which we saw later very briefly as it took off to hide for the rest oif the time we were there, and Water Pipit showed briefly before flying off, whilst a Meadow Pipit hung around.

There were lots of waders, the majority being some 38 Little Stints but we couldn't find and Temminck's. These wandered like little clockwork toys along the water's edges amongst the larger waders such as the Avocets and the solitary Redshank, between the 4 feeding Shelducks, even making the 8 Dunlins appear enormous. Amidst all this coming and going, a solitary Greenshank slept on and a Lapwing ignored the lot of 'em.

And to round off an extremely pleasant and profitable morning, a couple of Marsh Harriers, a very distant Common Buzzard and the resident Black-shouldered Kite, always a delight to the eye.

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