Tour Leader/Guide: Mick Richardson
Author: Mick Richardson
May is probably only bettered by April, so the expectations were high. This month was to see several out of Granada trips and a short (3 day) but exciting trip to the Coto Doñana.
On the 1st what was supposed to be a visit of a couple of hours to Fuente de Piedra Lagoons turned into a most of the day stay as the waders, terns and flamingo’s kept us and the cameras in action. The new scrapes provided us with close views of Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Red Knot Calidris canutus and Ruff Philomachus pugnax all looking in peak condition and the latter displaying to several females. Little Calidris minuta and Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii, Redshank Tringa totanus, Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, Dunlin Calidris alpina, Grey Pluvialis squatarola, Ringed Charadrius hiaticula and Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus were also present. Along with some larger species were Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica.
Several Thousand Greater Flamingo's Phoenicopterus ruber could be seen on the main lagoon and on the fresh water lagoons at the rear of the visitor’s centre, a great sight as the low water levels last year meant that the birds did not breed. Four Lesser Flamingo's Phoenicopterus minor could also be found out on the main lagoon with another two birds reportedly sitting on eggs.
Whiskered Chlidonias hybridus, Gull-billed Gelochelidon nilotica and Black Terns Chlidonias leucopterus were all seen hawking over the pools and near by fields and Yellow-legged Larus cachinnans, Black-headed Larus ridibundus plus a few lingering Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus were on the main lagoon. Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, Shelduck Tadoma tadoma, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Gadwall Anas strepera and a single male White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala were all seen on the fresh water areas along with a couple of White Storks Ciconia ciconia. Several pairs of Spanish Passer hispaniolensis and House Sparrows Passer domesticus were nesting in the old visitors centre walls.
On the 2nd we were again over the boarder in Malaga Province but this time down on the coast at Guadalahorce. We first had a look over the largest of the fresh water pools and it seemed quite quiet, several White-headed Ducks O. leucocephala, Black Winged Stilts H. himantopus and Common Pochard A. ferina were the only birds to be seen. We made our way around to the second hide and a Purple Swamp-hen Porphyrio porphyrio was soon seen crunching on vegetation at the far end of the pool, along with Whiskered Tern C. hybridus, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus. Further along the same track there is a view over a bow shaped pool where a collection of terns and gulls were roosting along with a Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, these included Little Sterna albifrons, Whiskered C. hybridus, Sandwich Sterna sandvicensis, Gull-billed G. nilotica and Caspian Terns Sterna caspia, Audouin's Larus Audouinii, Yellow-legged Larus michiallis, Black-headed L. ridibundus and Lesser-black backed Gulls L. fuscus. Also seen here were a single Collared Pratincole, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Sanderling and Dunlin.
We then made our way to the sea watching point picking up Squacco Heron and Little Egrets on the way. On the sea 20+ Cory's Shearwaters were floating close to shore and a couple of Gannets past West a little further out.
A last minute trip on the 5th to an area near Guadix allowed a chance to get some shots of Roller, a fantastic bird which breeds in old dead tree stumps in this largely agricultural area. Five birds were seen in the valley and this bird allowed us to approach in the car as it sat preening in a road side tree. Also seen in the same area were Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius, Golden Oriole O. oriolus, Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis, Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax and Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus.
The next visit was to Charca de Suárez on the 9th, a group of lagoons on the coast of Granada Province near Mortil. Several interesting species for Granada were seen including Garganey Anas querquedula and White-headed Duck O. leucocephala, both males. Also seen were Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Purple Swamp-hen P. porphyrio and Whiskered Tern C. hybridus.