A trip over into Malaga Province.
Jayne had a late in the day appointment over in Fuente de Piedra so we decided that we would have a look in at the Shopping Centre at Antequera on the way and as we were in the area Laguna Herrera and the main lagoons at Fuente. Our first stop was at the bar at junction 149 off the A92 for a coffee and tostada, which went down very nicely. We then headed up the Cordoba road towards Laguna Herrera, on the track into the site there were as usual good numbers of finches, buntings and sparrows including Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). Further out in one of the winter cereal fields 2 male and 1 female Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) were feeding amongst a large flock of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a few Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia). On the lagoon the most obvious species were gulls with hundreds of Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) bathing in the shallow water. On the margins Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) numbers had risen from the last time I visited and had reached at least 30, a couple of Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) were feeding amongst a few more Northern Lapwings. Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) were all perched on the overhead cables whilst Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) were all in the reeds.
On the flooded fields on the opposite side of the track from the lagoon there were a good three thousand gulls either on the marginal mud or out in the water, almost all were Lesser Black-backed along with a few Black-headed.
We then went on to the Shopping Centre and then Fuente, I started with a look around the small lagoons near the wooden walk way and was very happy to find a couple of winter plumaged male Reed Buntings (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) mixed in with a flock of at least 3 male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), a good number House Sparrows and a few Corn Buntings. While I was watching the Spanish Sparrows a fine male White-spotted Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) was seen feeding on an open area of mud. Also in this area were Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). On the next larger lagoon a small flock of 5 Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) were a nice find in their silvery winter plumage, also on the water were a pair of Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope), lots more Northern Shovelers and Eurasian Teal and a few immature Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber). On the margins a couple of Water Pipits (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) were strutting around with a single Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and lots of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). I then moved up to the mirador below the Oak tree from where I successfully scanned through the thousands of Greater Flamingo’s and located the long staying Lesser (Phoenicopterus minor) a much redder bird with an obvious all dark bill. Also on the main lagoon I added Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) a small group of 5 birds were roosting in the shallow water, 30+ Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta).
I then continued on around to the two hides overlooking the freshwater pools, there were lots of bird but almost all were either Lesser Black-backed Gulls or Northern Shovelers. While I was there a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) came in low over the trees and flushed all the smaller duck before snatching a male Eurasian Teal in flight, almost immediately the bird escape but was badly injured and dived straight for a small clump of rushes and weeds out in the water. The Harrier followed it in to the vegetation and must have eventually found its catch as I could see it plucking the bird. Also in this area I picked up Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis). I then walked back around towards Jayne in the car seeing a single Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) on the way. We were still a little early for Jayne appointment so I went around to the first hide on the eastern side of the main lagoon, from here I had better views of the Lesser Flamingo and added Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) to the year list.
Photographs from the top: Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), 2x Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) and the female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).