Monday, 9 December 2013

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra, Malaga Province and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A mornings birding with good friend Juan Perez Contreras.

I met Juan at the Hotel Corjito de Tajar just off the A92 at Huétor and we set off towards Campillos to have a look at Laguna Dulce. On the way over we got the day list off to a good start by seeing Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), 2x Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and 2 superb Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) perched on telegraph poles on the side of the road, both on stretches where it was not possible to park.
When we arrived at Dulce we were surprised how few birds there were on show but soon found that there were many more there than first met the eye but they were on the far shore. We spent a good hour or so scanning the lake and by the time we were leaving we had recorded 12+ Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Common Pochards (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio). Other species seen on around the water were Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), 3x Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
We left the hide and made our way along the tracks to the rear of the site scanning the fields as we went, we picked up another Common Buzzard, lots of Serins, Goldfinches and a decent sized flock of Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) with a few Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) mixed in. Our next stop was at a small track side pool which had a nice margin of mud which held several feeding waders including 4 Little Stintd (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), 2 Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), 10+ Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and singles of both Green Sandpiper and Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina). Also on the water we saw several Eurasian Teal and an Immature Greater Flamingo. We continued on through quite a large expanse of Olives, picking up Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) on the way. As soon as we came out into open fields again we were amazed at the sight of around a 1000 or so Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) feeding on the ploughed stubble fields, some flew off straight away but we got great views of the rest as they relocated a little further away from the track, we reached some high ground and Juan did a count of the birds that remained nearby and before long had reached 600. More birds could be seen and heard all around us, it was quite a spectacle. We moved on again and came out onto the tarmac road at the southern end of Fuente de Piedra and continued on towards the view point half way down the western side of the reserve picking out our third Black-winged Kite of the morning on the way.
From the view point we counted 9 Marsh Harriers, another couple of hundred Common Cranes, loads of Greater Flamingo's and good numbers of wildfowl on the pools but nothing new to the list.
From here we went on round until we reached the roadside hide before the centre, we parked and scanned the shore line and then the thistle scrub and added Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) to the list. 
Our final stop was at the visitor center where we walked around past all the dried up pools and then checked out the hides looking over the fresh water pools at the side of the centre. Things were generally quiet apart from the Greater Flamingo's and massed of Northern Shovelers however we did add Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) to the day list.
Juan then drove us back to Huétor and he headed off up to Granada and home and I went through Huétor and did the same but called via the river on the way finding Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) on the way. 

Photographs from the top: 2x Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus), immature Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), female Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) which appears to be carrying food????

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