Life again at Laguna Herrera.
Jayne and I popped off the motorway at Antequera to call at the garden centre on the old Cordoba road; we arrived to find it was shut so we had a look at the lagoon near by. As we drove up the track there were large flocks of small passerines flushing up from the dead thistle and fennel stalks. these included lots of Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), a few Greenfinches (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) were also among the numbers. On the recently planted winter crop fields there were good numbers of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a single Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) and a male Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which I missed but Jayne saw it drop into a deeper area of vegetation. I was pleased to see that the Laguna had started to fill with water and held a few birds, most were Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) but on the muddy margins at least 5 winter plumaged Little Stints (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) were feeding along with singles of both Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) plus a few more Northern Lapwings.
I had a look out over the surrounding fields from the bank at the side of the track and could see that the fields opposite the lagoon were also flooded again and a couple of thousand Gulls were scattered across the shallow water and mud. Also seen were a couple of Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), many White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). On the banks of the ditch a single Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) flicked through the thistle stems along with a couple of Sardinian's (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), hordes of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and a couple of Zitting Cisticola's (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). On our drive back to the Cordoba road we added a very dark Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) perched right on top of one of the telegraph poles, a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) which was hovering over a crowd of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) which were following a ploughing tractor and a female Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) which zipped along side the car and dropped into the ditch and disappeared fro view as quickly as it had arrived. Other birds seen included Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
We then headed back towards home but returned via the fields to the North of Huétor where we picked up the wintering flock of Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) or about 70 of them, 100+ Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), a large flock of around 90 Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) which were feeding in the vegetation below the trees in one of the Poplar plantation and another Green Sandpiper feeding on the river.
Photographs from the top: Laguna Herrera and Burning off the Asparagus tops at Huétor Tájar.