05/02 : Laguna Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

It may appear to the casual reader that Fuente de Pîedra exercises an almost magnetic attraction but it is a beautiful place and as thelaguna Dulce is not far away, it is almost axiomatic that one combines the second with the first, which is what Federico and I did this morning. We were at the laguna Dulce before 09.30 and it was firtunate that there was zero wind under blue skies, as the temperature was still near zero as the hoar frost still present in shaded parts showed. Even a casual glance showed fewer ducks and grebes than there were last Thursday, and worse, they were all at the far side of the lake.
True there were the species one might expect, but in lesser numbers generally. For example, we found only one male Tufted Duck (3 last week) and no Red-crested Pochards at all, and without counting specifically it was obvious that there were fewer Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes. On the oher hand, we found at least 15 White-headed Ducks. We saw 3 Marsh Harriers, the young and old females of last week and an immature male. The really abundant species was Coot, with many feeding out in the fields while above it this Corn Bunting sang from an almond tree in flower - which sounds almost Japanese in its conception and should be the subject of a haiku. You know the sort of thing: -
Corn Buntings sing
When almond blossoms bloom, .
From there we went on to Fuente de Piedra, stopping at the western end to look down on the lake and also seeing a lot of Chaffinches (but no Bramblings) and 3 Song Thrushes. It was here too that we found this Thekla Lark and I heard a Wood Lark singing that lovely falling cadence on a couple of occasions. On the lake there was some sign of Flamingos displaying, with a couple of hundred with necks raised skywards and occasional wing flashing. But it was when we stopped at Cantarranas and looked over the fields inland from the road that we came across the Cranes, all well spread out, but a count revealed 368, plus or minus a few as there was a bit of movement.
Going on towards Fuente and the information centre, on the left of the road there is a flooded areas which will repay a look. There were lots of Snipe around there and also some Lapwings - this photo shows why one of its old English names was Green Plover, apart from the onomatopoeic Peewit from its call, a single Redshank - the only one of the day - and singles of Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff, although there 4 more of the first and four more of the second, one a nicely marked female, tiny in comparison with the males, seen on the flash from the board walk. The whole area around the flashes and the lake in general was knee deep in White Wagtails, as it has been all winter, and there were several Chiffchaffs making brief feeding flights off the tamarisks. Venturing further along the path Federico spotted a Reed Bunting which promptly clone ditself into 3, one a 1st winter male showing some signs of incipient black on its head.
So, with the temperaure well into double figures and the pair of us feeling distinctly over-clothed, it was time to head for home, well satisfied with our morning and the splendid weather.

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