Sunday, 4 April 2010

El Torcal and Fuente de Piedra, Malaga Province.

Dennis and Ian Day Five, Rocks and Flamingo's.

Ian, Dennis and I headed out to El Torcal for a more leisurely day and to try to see the local Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). As we were arriving at the visitors centre car park we had a brief view of a single bird as it disappeared around the taller crags and that was it, we had the only view of the day. We parked and got out of the car and had quite a shock, it was dam freezing, layer after layer went on to Dennis, Ian and myself, well we carry an extra layer or two internally (Sorry Ian). We headed out to the Mirador for views down to the coast at Malaga, several Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) joined the list. We then stopped at the visitors centre and had a loo break and a look in the shop. By the time we can out the biting wind had dropped a touch so we made the decision that we would do the short walk but in reverse. Down in the first ravine we saw several more Black Redstarts and added Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and a female Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus). On the top of this ridge we picked up a Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) the first one of the trip, also see were Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). Once back at the car we made our way towards Antiquera and picked up yet another male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) on the way.
We arrived at Fuente to be greeted by a sizable flock of Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) on the pool at the road side but this was nothing compared to the sight out on the lagoon. The waters were so high that the birds were very close to the banks and some were amongst the submerged Tamarisk trees. There were thousands of birds and they were giving the best views I had ever had at the site. On the pool by the road there were also good numbers of Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), along with a few Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). We walked out across the newish wooden bridge and along the track to the road, along this stretch we added a single male Garganey (Cerceta Carretona / Anas querquedula), Gull-billed (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) and Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Common (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and Spotted Redshanks (Archibebe Oscuro / Tringa erythropus), Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) and Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina). On the far side of the roads the fields were still flooded and several more Common and Spotted Redshanks fed along with single Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea) and Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia). Further on we checked an area of water with several Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and then surprise of the morning, there were still two of the wintering Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus) on the margins of the main lagoon. While we were standing checking through the gulls a Scop’s Owl (Autillo Europeo / Otus scops) was heard in the Olive Grove across the road. The whole time we had been walking out to this point there had been a massive flock of feeding birds over head including all five common Hirundines and both Swifts. We turned around and made our way back to the centre and around the tracks to the two hides over looking the fresh water pools, here we added Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). Returning to the view point and looking out over the lagoon we managed to add a couple more species, White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) were the best. We then made our way back to the house for a quiet evening.
Photographs from the top: View of Torcal, Dennis and Ian looking cold at Torcal, Ian looking warmer at Fuente, Dennis also starting to thaw out and Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber).

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