28 February : Lagunas Dulce, Fuente de Piedra and Herrera

Home and with the brain and body more or less functioning in synchrony and a date with Federico this Día de Andalucía (Andalusia Day) to take a spin up to the lakes in the title, starting with the Dulce at Campillos and frankly the best. There were lots of hirundines, mostly Barn Swallows with a few House Martins, while Federico saw a Red-rumped which I missed and myself a Sand Martin which he missed. There was a nice mix of ducks, ranging from the usual Mallards through a flight of 3 Red-crested Pochards as well as their more common cousins and the rather rarer pair of Ferruginous Ducks which spent their time disappeaaring in and out of the reeds while a Purple Boghean fiddled around neaar to them. The Tufted Ducks are still present and we saw 7, the majority of them males (5) but surprisingly not a single White-headed. There are, naturally lots of Coots and onyone who wants to try to find a Red-knobbed, well, I wish them luck. My impression was that there were fewer Black-necked Grebes and also much fewer Great Crested, although it was delightful to watch these in display.
From there it was on to Fuente de Piedra, stopping briefly at Cantarranas where we saw 3 Marsh Harriers and singles of Raven, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, as well as a few remaining Cranes. Round at the infortmation centre we were informed that 2 Lesser Flamingos and been seen last week and that there was one highly visible one out in ther lake, a very nicely coloured adult bird which gies onea hope of breeding again this Shovelers around and quite a few Teal, but our interest was centred more on the waders. At last some waders. Avocets and Stilts are always to be expected but rather better was the presence of a single Redshank (at last!), 3 Ruff (getting better) and some 16 Black-tailed Godwits, some of which were showing the start of breeding plumage and were highly attractive. Things can only get better.
Finally we made a flying visit to the laguna Herrera where there were some 12 Shelducks - very bonny birds, a single Green Sandpiper and a slew of Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls, with many more of the former.
I didn't do a full species count and I've not mentioned the many Chiffchaffs nor the Cetti's Warbler but we had a very satisfying morning out - rather different to what I was watching in Australia a week ago!

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