Thursday, April 20, 2017

Diary Update #4 Spain 2017

πŸ”† Monday 17th April 2017 πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ  ~ The last day of our short break and a visit to Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, a vast saline lake almost 7 kms in length and 2.5 kms in width. The lake, together with the areas of scrub, marsh and reedbeds that immediately surround it, has been given the status of Reserva Natural and has been fenced off to prevent human interference. That said there's a modern visitors centre with viewing gallery and plenty to explore, along with a couple of hides to investigate.

A baron Laguna Dulce ~ Another disastrous loss of habitat!
Firstly though a stop off on route at Laguna Dulce a short distance away, which produced a real shock! Normally a great place to see summer plumage Black-necked Grebes, a variety of wildfowl and numerous waders and warblers, it had been completely drained. According to the Andalusian Birding Society this is apparently due to illegal extraction of water by local agriculture, which I'm told resulted in no punishment or action taken against those responsible. Yet another disaster for the area and when you consider what's going on in Malta and Cyprus, it just gets more depressing!!

Gulled-billed Terns were in double figures today!
Feeling a little deflated we arrived at Piedra a short while later and thankfully spirits were immediately lifted. Although not as full as I've seen it in previous years there was enough water to make the visit viable. As we drove to the parking area several Gull-billed Terns dropping down to feed over the water and a good selection of waders included: Little-ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Ruff, Common, Green and Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint and Black-winged Stilt. Across the roadside two small raptors on the wires were Lesser Kestrel, a Common Kestrel also perched nearby giving an excellent identity comparison.

Wood Sandpiper
A walk across the boardwalk of the smaller lagoons held very little water but a single White Wagtail and Wood Sandpiper were noted, on the nearby fencing a Woodchat Shrike and a single Marsh Harrier at distance.

One of three Juvenile Stonechat
Around the mirador we came across a family of Stonechat and watched them occasionally being fed by the parents. A Little Owl flew into a nearby tree from his hidden rocky perch and then proceeded to fly back again just as I approached, camera in hand! A walk south along the perimeter track that runs parallel to the main laguna was very quiet, save for the many House Sparrows which seem to have thrived here and a singing Crested Lark. The hundreds of Greater Flamingo, the speciality here, could be seen across the main laguna shimmering in the sunlight!

Singing Crested Lark
Just prior to arriving at the Lagunetta hides a large raptor overhead turned out to be a stunning Montagu's Harrier, which circled for a while before moving on. Plenty of water from the hide viewing area offered little wader potential but the gulls were in their element with Black-headed, Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Mediterranean Gull all noted. Wildfowl included Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Shoveler and the odd Gadwall. Dee picked out a summer plumage Black-necked Grebe, single Snipe and Cattle Egret, with Dave contributing also by finding a White Stork nesting on a distant chimney stack across in the town. Only a single Whiskered Tern to be found today, normally there in good numbers.

Back at the Villa on our last night before heading home Turtle Dove, with Scops Owl, Red-necked Nightjar and Tawny Owl all heard while having dinner a great end to an excellent short break.

More images of the day...

One of three Juvenile Stonechat

Greater Flamingo

Species Seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper,  Redshank, Greenshank, Ruff, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl (h), Little Owl, Scops Owl (h), Red-necked Nightjar, Swift, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Bee~eater, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Robin, Nightingale, Stonechat, Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Sardinian Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Pied Flycatcher, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Common Crossbill, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting