Elena and I agreed to meet friend and guide Mick Richardson at Fuente de Piedra at 0800 so it was an early start on Tuesday morning. We were all surprised to see some water in the ponds to the left of the entrance drive with a variety of waders present, the most notable being Black-tailed Godwits along with some other more common species.
The main lagoon however was very low and although we could see fairly large groups of Flamingos in the distance it did not look promising for the coming breeding season again, having failed last year this is disastrous for the birds and the small town which benefits from the tourists who come for the Reserve. There has not been much rain admittedly but irrigation is the main culprit, much of it being illegal. I was pleased with this shot of a Glossy Ibis with matching colour reflections on the water.
On the ponds behind the Information Centre we were pleased to find a pair of Marbled Ducks, always a good bird to see, plus Mick added Red-crested Pochard to his ever expanding year list. It is nice to see the abundance of Rabbits here busy bringing nesting material to their burrows.
Before departing for Osuna we photographed the Jackdaws that are resident in the trees by and on the roof of the main building.
After a welcome coffee break at Osuna I was delighted to finally see the Stone Curlews that I have always been told are seen regularly amongst the olive trees on the right just outside the Venta San Francisco and for the first time in my experience they were there and I was pleased with one or two photos of these imposing looking birds, taken through the car window. Shortly afterwards we picked up a distant party of Great Bustards, our other target species for this location.
After Osuna we headed for Brazo del Este on the west bank of the Rio Guadalquivir. I made the mistake of following my GPS which took me to a part of the area I was not familiar with, so it took a while before we met up with Mick who had arrived some time earlier. One of the first interesting species was a small flock of Black-headed Weavers, an African that have become resident in this area. No males in breeding plumage were present but I did get a decent shot of this one which could be male or female.
Shortly afterwards I spotted a group of Black-crowned Night Herons quite close to the vehicle track, allowing for some good photographs.
Along the way we picked up many more species including a Black Stork, Spoonbills Western Swamphen, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kingfisher and a variety small birds and waders that are too numerous to mention.
From Brazo de Este we drove to Sanlucar de Barrameda and our overnight accommodation for a well earned meal and some sleep.
First thing in the morning we went to Bonanza for the salt pans which were enveloped in morning fog, so we tried for the nearby Laughing Doves that Mick knew about. They nest in some tall trees around a pond not far from Bonanza. Sure enough we saw a pair in the tall trees but unfortunately I was unable to get a clear view for a photograph and it was not long before the birds flew off. Oh well that's birding. By the time we returned to the salt pans the fog had lifted. There was a good selection of waders present but the only photograph I took was of this Slender-billed Dove which is very elegant and always nice to see.
From Bonanza we skirted around Sanlucar to arrive at Chipiona to see the Little Swifts that nest in the eaves of the yacht club there. Sure enough there were quite a few of these very scarce birds wheeling around coming and going from the building such that with patience and perseverance we managed to get some decent photographs on the wing. I switched to my old 5.6L 400mm lens for this purpose as it is lighter and focuses so much faster than the big 500mm. The light was excellent so no need for the bigger lens anyway.
It was nice to get a shot with two swifts in one frame, I was using high speed burst mode and just got lucky on one occasion. The best photo however is the one below which captures more detail on this delightful little high speed flyer.
After Chipiona we went to a rather strange newly built holiday resort along the coast from Chipiona called Costa Ballena. The landscaped green areas with a network of lakes and ponds attracts a large number of gulls and a few waders. I photographed this Common Gull which was one of several and is noreworthy only because they are quite rare in Southern Spain. We also spotted the Ring-billed Gull, a vagrant North American species. Mick managed to get a photograph but I missed out on it.
The only other photos worth posting were these two Turnstones which were foraging around the newly landscaped waterway. After Costa Ballena it was time for Elena to depart for home, saying goodbye to Mick who was staying on for one more night in Sanlucar.
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
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