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Monday, April 23, 2018

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ SPAIN 2018 ~ Fuente de Piedra

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ☔️☀️22C Monday 23rd April 2018 ~A severe thunderstorm here in Mijas yesterday evening, which seemed to rattle on well into the night gave way to a bright start this morning. Today a visit to Laguna Dulce near Campillos, then on to Fuente de Piedra the largest lagoon in Andalusia, covering an area of 1,354 hectares, it is considered to be one of the most extensive and characteristic endorheic complexes in Spain. Last nights storm appeared to have grounded a number of species with at least six Spotted Flycatchers and a male Pied Flycatcher on the roadside fences as we drove up to Campillos.

Stone Curlew ~ Laguna Dulce hide
On my last visit to Laguna Dulce in November the lake was dry but what a contrast today! With an extremely wet winter in the area, the lake was almost to capacity. Around 40 Greater Flamingo feeding in the shallows and a selection of Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. Common Pochard was represented by around a dozen birds and equally matched by its more conspicuous compatriot Red-crested Pochard.

Woodchat Shrike ~ Feeding well
While sitting in the hide we were treated to an excellent view of a Stone Curlew as it flew at eye level from left to right. Just below a group of House Sparrows and Corn Buntings were keeping one eye on a Woodchat Shrike, which was perched up and already on with the breakfast. A Hoopoe made a brief appearance at treetop level and around the hide Nightingale and Reed Warbler in song. Overhead just a few Barn Swallows passing through along with the odd Common Swift.

Just a small selection of Greater Flamingo from Mirador de Cantarranasat Fuente de Piedra
As we drove along the access road through to the centre parking at Fuente de Piedra it was no surprise to see so much water in the pools and main lagoon. I'd seen the lagoon from the air as I flew into to Malaga on Saturday afternoon, in fact, I've never seen it so full, great news for the 50,000 Greater Flamingo that reside here.

Wheatear ~ First species of the visit
While Dave used the facilities I heading down to one of the smaller pools, coming across a very confiding Wheatear. Dare I say it but there seemed too much water, well if your a wader that is. Still, I picked out a Common Sandpiper and Little-ringed Plover on the peripheral, plus a lone Cattle Egret across on the far side.

Obliging Great Reed Warbler
From here we made our way down from the Mirador for a walk along the track which skirts the main lagoon down as far as the olive groves. The loud grating song of a Great Reed Warbler, which obligingly kept climbing the reeds offering some excellent views. A few Nightingales singing, but well undercover as usual and plenty of Corn Buntings along the fences.

Black Tern skimming the main Lagoon
Normally very protective of the breeding Greater Flamingo here, with a long high treeline preventing any chance of decent views from the tracks I was astonished to find a section of trees cut away. This offered fantastic views of the lagoon and reasonably close in some thirty or so Black Terns skimming the water. Whiskered Terns and Gull-billed Terns were also in good numbers, along with several Mediterranean Gulls among the many Black-headed.

Willow Warbler
Heading back along the track to the centre, Crested Lark, Woodchat Shrike, Willow Warbler (above) and Melodious Warbler along the hedgerow and then a Great Spotted Cuckoo, which flew out of the hedge and into the treeline. Some brief views as the bird moved through, all the time keeping to the Lagoon side but constantly calling and enabling us to follow. Unfortunately, I gave up the search after 20-minutes, aware that my buddy Dave was getting bored! (these none birders).

Greater Flamingo from the Lagunetta Hide
A stop at the three hides at the centre produced Avocet, Black-necked Grebe's, Pochard, White-headed Duck and Red-crested Pochard. Over towards the houses in Fuente de Piedra village from the Lagunetta hide a White Stork had set up home in a high chimney.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae)
We were annoyed to find that the wooden bridge which connects two more pools was closed for repairs so instead, we elected to take a driving tour of the Lagoon. In fact, this was a bonus, with most of the surrounding fields still in flood and offering great habitat to explore. At least six Iberian Yellow Wagtails heads ranging from blue to almost black, plus a good selection of waders which included: Greenshank, Redshank, Little Stint, Ruff, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and Wood Sandpiper. Some of the deeper floods offered Little Egret in good numbers, plus a pair of Garganey. Just a few raptors today which included Common Kestrel, Booted Eagle and Common Buzzard.

Cattle Egret at Fuente de Piedra

More Black Terns on the Lagoon