24 December 2013 : lagunas Dulce & Fuente de Piedra

Christmas Eve and Ron and myself hied us off to see what was about, leaving the coast in sunshine, going through fog once over the top of Las Pedrizas and that clearing just as we neared the laguna Dulce just to the east of Campillos. Cool it was but at least we had virtually no wind and good visibility. We did quite well there with 3 Marsh Harriers but with a suprising lack of White-headed Ducks as we saw only one in spite of heavy 'scoping. Indeed, I thought that both Coot and duck numbers were well down for the date with only 10 Red-crested Pochards and relatively few Common Pochards, Shovelers, Mallards, Gadwall and even fewer Teal, but with the nice suprise of no less than 7 Tufted Ducks (one with an injured lower mandible), although I later found out that Mick Richardson had seen 12 there last week! Equally, we found only 1 Great Crested Grebe and far fewer Black-necked Grebes than one might normally expect given the water levels. A single Snipe rose and vanished from sight and 6 Black-winged Stilts comprised the waders there.

From there we went on to Fuente de Piedra, entering around by the western end where we stopped briefly to look down on the laguna which was where we saw the first few Cranes as well as brief views of a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes having a brief up and downer about winter territory. Round to Cantarranas where we really hit big numbers of Cranes with somewhere between 800 and 1.000 birds (although Marta at the information centre told me that 1.800 had been censused going to roost the previous week). Be the numbers what they may, the sight and sound of a large number of Cranes is a wonderful thing to enjoy. There we also enjoyed a distant rear end view of the Black-shouldered Kite as well as a couple more Marsh Harriers to the distant chorus of the Cranes.
There were reasonable numbers of ducks down on the water at Cantarranas but my own impression is that numbers of Shoveler are well down compared to previous winters. This was to be later reinforced at the main lake in front of the information centre and at the smaller laguna behind, there simply aren't the numbers of these or Black-necked Grebes that there have been these last few winters, although we did see 5 Shelduck. Flamingo numbers seemed pretty normal for the time of year but there was little sign of courtship activity with only a few strutting birds with raised necks but the greying skies may well have affected their joint libido.A female Blackcap was hanging around the bushes in the carpark and there was a female Black Redstart too.
Everything is terribly dry and the lack of rain has meant that there is no fresh green vegetation whereas there should be something by now. There were no Stone Curlews in the usual field although that was probably due to us arriving late and there had been families with small children shouting their heads off, which makes one wonder if gagging them should not be mandatory. Ron and I walked all the way along the path to La Vicaria up to the road. There were a few Skylarks in the stone curlew field, a nice Greenfinch, plenty of Chiffchaffs , a couple of smallish flocks of Goldfinches with Linnets intermixed. Once we reached the road a quick examination of a small flock of birds on the wires revealed Corn Buntings and a single male Spanish Sparrow.
So, a total of 49 species for the day and let us hope for the promised rain for Christmas Day, the countryside needs it.
I do hope that Santa brings you whatever you have asked for! Happy Christmas and all sort of bourgeois stuff. 

1 comentario:

Bob Wright - The Axarquia Birder dijo...

Andy, Andy, Andy!

Be careful what you wish for as I am sure when you wanted rain on Christmas Day you did not expect the torrential downpours that washed Father Christmas well and truly away! At least you saw birds which is more than could be said for my Guadalhorce visit yesterday, 27 December.
Bob Wright