Other birds of note at Fuente include one or two Black Terns, which was nice. I post a long distance shot here for the record. Whiskered and Gull-Billed Terns were also present.
It was slate blue/grey with the classic plumes of a dark morph egretta gularis in breeding plumage. There was clear demarcation to the white chin and throat. The yellowish bill was larger than a Little Egret's with a clear curvature to the upper mandible and the feet were very large and yellow on black legs.
Rare plumage variations
Whether or not Little Egret has a rare dark morph is under debate. A few individuals identified as such in southern Europe and western Africa may have been Western Reef-Herons, or hybrids between Little Egret and Western Reef-Heron. Importantly, DNA evidence suggests that Little Egret and the western African populations of Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis gularis are so closely related they could be the same species, and morphologically there is little to refute that idea. In that case Western Reef-Heron is simply a southern population of Little Egret, which is predominantly dark morph.
The country retreat turned out to be a large finca in a delighful area of oak and broadleaved woodland. It was a working Iberica pig farm and lunch consisted of large amounts of home cooked local produce, including various delicious pork dishes, cheeses, gazpachos and bread, all washed down with some excellent wine.
A stroll around the estate after lunch introduced us to some of the pigs that eat the fallen acorns of the holm oak trees. As a sideline to his pig farming the owner had built accommodation for tourists looking for a peaceful hideaway in the campo. And very nice it was too.