25 April : Fuente de Piedra

After some 8 weeks without getting out (old age is not fun when one can't go birding, even though it allows politcal incorrrectness) I felt sufficiently human to go to Fuente de Piedra in search of waders and anything else which might care to show itself.
'... something to do with boiling oil'
The place was full of the great unwashed masses, at least three of which should have been subjected to a small, very fast moving object with a hollow point and who steadfastly insisted on walking the water's edge to photograph waders, in spite of being waved away by myself and other birders.
These were led by the ignorant and arrogant orange-haired female in the centre who totally ignored us and they only succeeded in flushing birds which were interested only in feeding. However, as a rifle was unavailable, as was any sight of a guard, one can only think of that immortal line from 'The Mikado' (Gilbert and Sullivan) regarding crime and punishment (not the book) about '... something to do with boiling oil'. However, leaving behind the selfish and ignorant, on to the birding.
Painted Lady
This Painted Lady butterfly was very cooperative.
On the passerine side, I must admit that I wasn't particularly attentive although I did see a very attractive Melodious Warbler and another birder told me that he had seen an Orphean Warbler. There was a Great Reed Warbler singing (?) and not far away a Reed Warbler was muttering happily to itself and a Nightingale really was singing.
The main attraction at Fuente is, of course, the Greater Flamingos and there are some 25.000-30.000 in the lake, with breeding started in the colony, although I find it difficult to see any success as  water levels are very low.
2 Greater Flamingos

2 Lesser Flamingos
An even greater attraction is the now annual presence of Lesser Flamingos, of which there 6, with one pair in the breeding colony and 2 are showing regularly in front of the information centre. One of these 6 birds has a red colour ring and very probably comes from some which left a Belgian collection some years since.
 In the wader line, I saw some 13 species, some in good numbers and in excellent plumage which made life very interesting. The Black-winged Stilts were remarkably quiet (are they on valium?), as were the very few Little Ringed Plovers, but compensation was provided by the Avocets.
Black-winged Stilt
 Numbers were pretty good in some cases, for instance the 40+ Ringed Plovers or the 14+ Redshanks although there was only 1 Greenshank and 5+ Common Sandpipers, as well as only 1 Green Sandpiper and 4 Wood Sandpipers, an always delightful species to see.
Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
There were fair numbers of Ruff, I counted some 16+ with some of the males coming into breeding plumage. At this date, Ruffs in Holland are breeding and I suspect that these, like the Ringed Plovers, are birds that have still a very long journey ahead of them, some to within the Arctic Circle where I have a memory of one on a fjell inland from Varangerfjord (Norway) walking on a frozen lake wondering where the devil the water had gone!
Little Stint
It was nice to see some 20+ Little Stints although numbers are often greater, many in full breeding plumage and they too with a long way still to go. After some searching the finding of a single Temminck's Stint was a distinct bonus. Many of the Dunlins present will accompany the stints on their journey north and many of the 25+ I counted were coming in to breeding plumage, their bellies black as though they had been sitting in soot.  
Curlew Sandpipers are not at all uncommon on migration and at this time of year many are coming in to breeding plumage, as is the bird shown in the photo below, while a few had not yet started to moult and a half dozen or so were in their full, immaculate dark chestnut, breeding plumage. These were the bird of the day, not because of the rarity because they are not, but because of the numbers, with a personal count of 180+, the biggest number that I have ever seen there.
Curlew Sandpiper
 I didn't make a full species list and I undoubtedly missed some but the waders were excellent watching. According to my notebook I saw some 43 species in total, which included some I have forgetten to mention above, easpecially the pair of Shelduck and the splendid Red-crested Pochards on the lake behind the information centre - the laguneto del Pueblo.
I did not see a single Yellow Wagtail nor a Woodchat Shrike, although there was one in my garden at home in the afternoon when I got back and  female Mallard was happily dabbling in the swimming pool!

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