02/03 : Fuente de Piedra

Barn Swallow
After having originally planned to go last Thursday but as that happened to be the latter part of the night when Armageddon fell on Málaga province and a fair part of eastern Andalucía (it snowed at Fuente de Piedra!), Ron and I went this cold, grey and increasingly windy but definitely worthwhile morning apart from the mass of humanity which was there as we arrived and we quickly evaded. Some of us just love punishment - you'd think we'd know better at our age!
So, what did we see between shivers and the wind shaking the scopes?
Quite a lot, nothing rare and some of it brilliantly seen. The hirundines, mostly Barn Swallows with a few House Martins and a couple of Red-rumped Swallows were having a hard time of it, feeding low over the water and will survive little time if this bad weather continues, which it is forecast to to do. The few Chiffchaffs that there were obviously found feeding equally hard, not that it disturbed the Stonechats one whit.
We concentrated nearly all our effort on the board walk area and the path toward the Vicaria observatory, although we didn't get that far as we were well supplied with plenty to keep us occupied. We started off from the mirador in frontof the information centre to see plenty of Flamingos, with one or two groups in display, the necks extended but with little to no wing flashing. There were still hordes of Shovelers on the lake, we guesstimated somewhere in the region of 1.500 and there are still plenty of Teal, a few Mallard and a pair of Gadwall, plus well over 60 Black-necked Grebes scattered along the width of the near lake. Further round on the way to the Vicaria there were 19 Shelducks, but that was later. 
Black-tailed Godwits

Curlew Sandpipers
We had hopes of seeing some early migrant  waders, in spite of the inclement weather, and were not to disappointed as first 3 Snipe took off, the ones we saw all morning. Then the 2 Black-tailed Godwits (above) feeding on the water flash to the left of the board walk were quickly joined by a flock of 23 more, most well on the way to full breeding plumage, which literally fell out of the sky, flaring out to land but many still nervous and about half took off quickly. Ron and I were of the opinion that the flock had spotted the water from altitude and decided to land by the form of approach, a swift vertical descent.
Later on, on the far side of the road on the flooded area, there were 3 Ruff and 3 Curlew Sandpipers (R), plus a noisy Redshank which really had its knickers in a twist and was flying all over the place shouting its head off in competiton with the relatively few Black-winged Stilts which have still to work themselves up to full hysterical frenzy.
The stretch from the end of the boardwalk and along the path towards the road was incredibly productive on the left side, not that there was a great variety, but there was a large mixed flock of a few White and 40-50 Yellow Wagtails of which at least 70% were beautifully coloured male birds, all that we could see being of the iberiae race. Mixed in with these there were one or two Greenfinches, some 10 Corn Buntings and at least 10 Reed Buntings, these last including one of the most stunning males that either of us had seen for many a long year. A pity it was way out of range for the camera. There were one or two Skylarks moving around, heard rather than seen, and there was a single distant Common Buzzard and a single Kestrel which looked pretty fedup as it crouched face into the wind.
And that was it, the lake behind the information yielded nothing of interest and so it was time to push off for home, well satisfied with the splendid views that we had enjoyed.

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