Thursday, 17 December 2015

Fuente de Piedra, Malaga Province.

A mornings birding with the Axarquia bird group.

I drove over to Fuente de Piedra calling in at Antequera on the way where I checked the fields out to the North of the Motorway. I only drove along the one track as I was starting to run out of time but I started my day list off with a very nice male Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which was hunting over a new plantation of young Olive trees, a small group of 5 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). I continued on adding Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) on the way to the visitor centre car park for the meeting. 
I was in fact a little early and none of the others had arrived but Bob and Jenny Wright soon turned up and we picked up Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) before Marcus and Liz Rootes joined us, so the five of us walked up to the view point and scanned the main salt lake which had a small amount of water which held a couple of hundred Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), several Shelducks (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), lots of Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus). Whilst we were there we were joined by Steve and Elena Powell and Eric and Pat Lyon and continued to add species including Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), a couple of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and loads of Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
We continued on around to the back hides where the water level in the main pool was surprisingly high and held good numbers of Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), a few Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), a single male Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and at least 4 Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago). We walked back to the view point and then took the lower track back towards the car park via the board walk, on the way we saw a single male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), 20+ Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and a female type Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
At the far end of the board walk the scopes were trained on some distant pylons where we saw two large raptors which were almost certainly Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). We got back to the cars and started to make our way around the lake along the Western side and just before we reached the Mirador a few KMs along this road we stopped and saw a very nice Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), several Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which had a quick but unsuccessful go at a Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis).
From the view point we added Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and the first of the days Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus).
We again continued on around the lake and soon found out where the rest of the Common Cranes were when we came across between 700 and 900 birds feeding on a couple of fields South of the road. In the same area we had Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and just down the road a second Black-winged Kite. We moved on again to a small ruin next to the lake but we could not find any new species so most of the group went for lunch but I headed of home.

Photographs from the top: View over the Salt Lake, The Group at the Mirador, distant Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus),  View from the Mirador and 2x Common Cranes flocks.

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