01/05 : Fuente de Piedra

After a fairly rubbishy week with little movement on my part with most birding being from the terrace and the knees still wondering if they're really going to go into melt-down or not, I got up feeling reasonably alright, decided that I couldn't bird on a diet of sparrows, Goldfinches, the odd Woodchat Shrike, Bonelli's and Melodious Warblers, nice though they are, and that the metcast was good after the rain of these past days, so by 0930 I was at Fuente de Piedra to try and miss the great unwashed masses who were bound to turn up (and they did, along with noisy brats).

Actually, I had three reasons for going, the first being to see if there was any extra water which would help prolong wader migration (there was some so it will), which in turn mean that there would be still be waders (there were) and to try and get some photos of Great Reed Warbler (which I did, as you can see below).
The first two objectives were easily sorted out although the numbers of waders present was not great, even though there were some 12 spp. if I've recorded correctly. The least common was a single Temminck's Stint and most Little Stints appear to have departed northwards, while the most common was certainly Ruff, although many of these were hiding and feeding in the grass and vegetation, which made them much more difficult to see. This flight photo (L), while far from brilliant, does show the V shape of the rump nicely which is very useful for identification purposes. In between numbers varied between somewhere around 6-7 Redshanks and Curlew Sands., some very nervous but not as much as the 3-4 Greenshanks, while the 3 Ringed Plovers were their usual phlegmatic selves, all the way down to a a few resident Stilts, Avocets - this one was really putting some energy into feeding! - and Little Ringed Plovers, down to singles of Dunlin and Common Sandpiper.

Flyovers included a single Purple Heron and a slew of Gull-billed Terns, a single Collared Pratincole, plus a surprise in the form of 2 Slender-billed Gulls. Also flying over were plenty of Barn Swallows and House Martins, plus a couple of Red-rumped Swallows and lots of Common Swifts.

 But as I noted at the beginning, the objective was to try and geat one or two photos of Great Reed Warbler and I think that I can say that I am pretty well satisfied with results. Guided in by what only the generous would call a song - honk-honk, tswee-twee, chuck-chuck can hardly be described a song but it can be heard at a good distance, which helps in finding these king-sized warblers, much larger than a Reed Warbler that was singing in the same area.
The left hand shot shows the normal sort of view before they dive in to the depths of the reed bed. However, thanks to the marvels of digital photography, shots like the right hand one enable us to see the orange mouth while the little chap practises for what must obviously be a Wagnerian role.

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