91 species, no woodland and 4 hours of daylight to spare!
I was meeting Andy Mountford for a days birding over at Laguna Dulce near Campillos which was abut the best site near to the halfway point for travelling. I had some good luck as soon as I left the house as with in 100 metres I flushed an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) up off the road.
I arrived at Dulce around and hour early and started to scan through the birds, Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) numbers had greatly reduced since my last visit but bird numbers were still very good and were soon increased by a large flock of mainly Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), some 1000+ birds. Other common birds included Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) some of which were still sat in their roost trees but most had left, Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and well over 350 White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). I then picked up a single female Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and two male Ferruginous Ducks (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), one of which disappeared straight back into the vegetation and the other flew right over to the far side of the lake and settled in with some Common Pochard.
A large female Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) then did a fly through upsetting some of the smaller wildfowl before heading out towards the town. A male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) then moved along the eastern side of the Lagoon before plunging into the reeds and coming out with an immature Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), he was soon followed by the misses who came along the same route and then out over the water to the western margins.
Andy then arrived and we continued to pick up some nice species including Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) which showed particularly well in the Tamarisk just out side the hide window, Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and just as we were leaving a cracking Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) which did not stop for more than a couple of minutes before continuing on South.
Our next stop was at the view point over Fuente de Piedra on the western side, on the way round we stopped and had some nice views of two migrating Honey Buzzards (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus) one with a standard plumage but the other with the nice fine barring replaced by much heavier bold lines.
. Here we soon picked up some new birds for the growing day list including a pair of Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) on the nearest patch of water along with both Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), a small number of White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and the first of the retuning Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis).
Our next stop was for a coffee in the town before making our way back to the visitors centre and having a look at the surrounding pools. First new species for the day were Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta) with three females being seen, a female Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) x4, Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) x2, Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) x2, a single Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) and then the stars of the site two Temmincks Stints (Correlimos de Temminck / Calidris temminckii) all of which were just too far for any decent shots. On the main lake we added a couple of hundred Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) to the list along with a smaller number of Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa). On the pools behind the centre we did not add any birds but we did see several species of dragonflies, the commonest were Lesser (Anax parthenope) and Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata). On the return walk we picked up a single Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), several Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), a female type Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a couple of late Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus). We then returned to Dulce and spent a little while having a second scan of the site seeing one of the male Ferruginous ducks quite close in the reeds accompanied by a nice female this time. Also added were Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
We then changed habitat a bit and went down to Teba Gorge which was a new site for Andy. As soon as we arrived a pair of Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) flew up and disappeared in to gorge, they were followed by a nice male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). Several Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) and Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma) were seen along with a single Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus) during he gorge walk. As we walked back towards the car a small butterfly caught our eye and we soon sorted out that it was a plain but nice Mediterranean Skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus), also seen were Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla) and Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli).
We quickly called in at the Raptor view point back at the junction with the Malaga road but only picked up Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). Andy then headed back south and I went on back towards Antequera where I had a swift look in at the dry remains of Laguna Herrera. On the right hand side of the track there is a small stream, along here I picked up another Common Whitethroat and a fine male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), along with a couple of Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe). A total of 91 species were seen and when I tallied up the easier species that we had not seen we could quite easily have cleared 100 and been close to 110 for the day. Thanks Andy.
Photographs from the top: Ferruginous Ducks (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) x2, Temmincks Stint (Correlimos de Temminck / Calidris temminckii), Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) and Mediterranean Skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus).