Sunday, 18 March 2012

Fuente de Piedra, Laguna Dulce and surroundings, Ardales, and Coin area, Malaga Province.

A few new Birds and Orchids for the year.

On my way down town I went via the fields and had a look along the river picking up a pair of Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). On a flooded field which reminded me somewhat of the rice paddies over at La Janda I added a couple of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and what for my local patch is an uncommon bird a single Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta). On my way up to the town I also had very close views of a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was perched in a road side Poplar.
I meet Juan Perez at the Hotel just off the A92 exit 203 and we headed out to Fuente de Piedra to see if we could catch up with the couple of Lesser Flamingo’s (Phoenicopterus minor) which had been reported on Andy Patterson’s Blog www.birdingthecosta.com Our first stop was by the hide on the west shore where we scanned through the Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) looking for the Lesser’s but the water level was quite a bit lower that the last time I was there and the Flamingo’s were more over towards the Eastern shore but we did picked up a few Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
We arrived at the entrance to the main centre and Juan immediately picked up a pair of Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) on the field to the right of the track and on the pool to the left we saw good numbers of Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) and Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) along with Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). In the air good numbers of migrating Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) were joined by the newly arrived Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica). We parked and went out on to the board walk where we soon started to add some waders to the list, several Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) were present including a male which looked like he would be a fine sight in full breeding plumage, a single Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa Glareola), half a dozen Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Little Ringed Plover and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus). We then continued around towards the Mirador viewing the second much dryer than normal pool, here we picked up Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and more of most of the species already seen. From the Mirador we scanned the close and mid distance flocks of Greater Flamingo’s and eventually we located a pair of the Lesser Flamingo’s and a few minutes later a second pair. Our next stop was in the right hand hide over looking the smaller of the pools, again there were loads of Northern Shovelers, a few Mallards, new birds for the day included a female type Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). Around in the hide over looking the bigger pool we had soon located several Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus) including at least to birds in none breeding 1st summer plumage. Also seen here were Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Lots more Shoveler, Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
We retraced our steps back towards the car and had another look out on the board walk adding Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Serin, Linnet, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
We then made our way across country to Laguna Dulce, on the way we called at a viewing point above the Eastern shore of the main lagoon and got much better views of the one pair of Lesser Flamingo's, we then scanned a little further to the left and found 3 more birds roosting and further out in the main flock we picked up another pair giving us a grand total of 7 Lesser's. Further on along the drive we saw another Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
Once at the Laguna I was searching hard for the Ferruginous Ducks (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) I had missed a few days earlier and after a while we found five skirting the edges of the reed beds off to the right. Also around the same area were good numbers of Eurasian Coots, Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Little and Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), the usual Northern Shovelers, Eurasian Teal, Mallards and a single male Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula). Also on the water were a few White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), lots of Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Black-headed Gulls. On the margins a couple of Greater Flamingo’s were feeding along with at least 3 Purple Swamp-hens (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Moorhen, Snipe, Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and several White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). In the air the species were much the same as at Fuente but there were a lot more Common and Pallid Swifts and just a few hirundines. We moved on to Laguna Salada, here the species were much the same and the only new birds added were a couple of Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta). The same could be said for Laguna de Capacete but there were a few of the waders here that we had seen including Ruff, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet.
We continued on past the first of the Ardales lakes to one of the sites I had been to a few days earlier with Ian Phillips and Michael Lowe looking at Orchids, Juan had unfortunately had not been able to join us. Here we found several spikes of Ophrys subfusca and Ophrys malacitana, we both took quite a few photographs before moving to the second orchid spot just the other side of Ardales where we soon found Ophrys fusca, Ophrys subfusca and Orchis collina (Fan-lipped Orchid).
We collected some lunch and headed off south towards Coin where our first stop was to try and find Ophrys atlantica (Atlas Orchid) but we failed to find and plants in flower, this we suspect is mainly down to the low temperatures this winter and the lack of rain. Every where was bone dry so we were pleased to find Ophrys tenthredinifera (sawfly Orchid), Ophrys Speculum (Mirror Orchid), Orchis champagneuxii (Champagne Orchid) and Ophrys dyris all nicely in flower. At our last site of the day we were hoping to find a plant that we had seen last year, a hybrid between Ophrys scolopax and Ophrys speculum but we had no luck but we did well with the Ophrys scolopax (Woodcock Orchid) which were in perfect condition, more Speculum, tenthredinifera and one or two spikes of Orchis papilionacea which were just coming into flower. At the same sit we found the hybrid between Orchis papilionacea and Champagneuxii (O. x gennarii) and another strange little Ophrys which we are still checking out. Thanks Juan, yet another cracking day.
Photographs from the top: 2x Lesser Flamingo’s (Phoenicopterus minor), Ruff / Reeve's (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa Glareola), Juan photographing the Champagneuxii, Ophrys subfusca, Ophrys malacitana, Ophrys fusca, Orchis collina (Fan-lipped Orchid), hybrid between Orchis papilionacea and Champagneuxii (O. x gennarii) and strange little Ophrys.

A total of 85 bird species were seen or heard and 11
Orchid species.

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