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Lagunas de Villafafila

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Offline Dave

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« on: May 05, 2007, 18:55 PM »
Dear All
Lagunas de Villafafila Thursday 3rd May 2007
Absolutely gorgeous day but with a quite cool wind, we decided to take the new car out for a spin and visit Villafafila bird reserve. After a coffee just of the motorway A6 we drove towards the reserve, as always the impact of the reserve was immediate on the roadside a large area of swampy ground with literally hundreds of birds feeding
White Storks (Esp: Cigüeña blanca) (Lat:Ciconia ciconia) huge numbers throughout the whole reserve.
Little Egret (Esp: Garceta comun) (Lat: Egretta garcetta) a few examples
Whiskered tern (Esp Fumarel Cariblanco) (Lat: Childonias hybridus) Once again in large numbers, fascinating to watch them skimming the surface of the lake with the beak trailing in the water.
Lesser Kestrel (Esp:Cernicalo primilla (Lat: Falco naumani) as always in large numbers especially around Oteros de Sariego.
Red Kite (Esp: Milano Real) (Lat: Milvus milvus) and
Black Kite (Esp: Milano Negro ) (Lat: Milvus migrans) large numbers very actively hunting.
Literally the air and the ground was full of these birds, the terns especially making a lot of noise. The popular prey seemed to be frogs as they also were contributing to the chorus.
It is the wettest we had ever seen Villafafila, and water was flowing everywhere, with the lagunas really full.
Driving towards Oteros de Sariego, we spotted a pair of Red Legged partridge (Esp: Perdiz Roja) (Lat: Alectoris rufa), at this time of year they leave the flocks and become more solitary as they pair up for the breeding season, we had a really good view as they seemed unaware of the car.
To the left and right there were shallow lagoons that contained large numbers of Black winged stilt (Esp:  Cigüeñuela comün) (Lat:Himantopus himantopus) as well as the Whiskered Terns. We also spotted a solitary Redshank (Esp: Arcibebe comün ) (Lat: Tringa totanus), the only one for the day.
In Oteros itself the air was full of Lesser Kestrel, Housemartins (Esp: Avion  comün) (Lat: Delichon urbica), Swallows (Esp: Golondrina  comün) (Lat: Hirundo rustica), and common Swifts ( Esp: Vencejo  comün) (Lat: Apus apus) as well as House sparrows (Esp; Gorrion  comün) (Lat: Passer domesticus) and some wonderful glossy black Spotless Starlings (Esp: Estornino Negro) (Lat: Sturnus unicolor). After the village we went to the hide that overlooks the Laguna Grande. To see anything from this hide is quite difficult as it is some distance from the lagoon itself and there are islands in the lagoon where the birds spend most of their time. This time we were lucky as there were Whiskered Terns resting on the shore of the island, using the excellent telescopes in the hide, we were intrigued to see that some of the terns, were in fact waders, with their heads tucked under their wings, after a bit of waitng they revealed themselves as Avocet (Esp: Avoceta  comün) (Lat: Recurvirostra avosetta), with its unmistakeable upturned beak, and feeding habit of swishing the beak from side to side through the water. Also on the lake were Mallard (Esp: Anade Azulon ) (Lat: Anas platyrhynchos) but generally it was quite empty. Driving from the lake we spotted large numbers of Skylarks (Esp: Alondra  comün) (Lat: Alauda avensis) as well as Lapwing ( esp; Avefria Europea) (Lat: Vanellus vanellus). The prizes of the day came soon after with a very good sighting of a Little Owl (Esp: Mochuelo Europea) (Lat: Athene noctua), which hopped down from its perch and viewed us suspiciously from a lump of concrete for quite a long time, in fact we got bored before he did. A little further on a 'skylark' flew across the road chasing a Magpie (Esp: Urraca) (Lat: Pica pica), after the task was completed it came too rest some distance away, through my glasses I could see clearly it was not a skylark, and as we drove slowly forward it was easy to see it was a Hoopoe (Esp: Bubilla) (Lat: Upupa epops), strangely in exactly the same place that my Mum had photographed it before. I looked for the nest, but the birds was clearly agitated, and so I left it in peace.
After this we retired for lunch, and later had a siesta next to one of the smaller lagunas, empty of life apart from a few Coots (Esp: Focha  comün) (Lat:Fulica atra) and the inevitable Mallards.
Sadly this time we could not use the road to the information centre, as it was closed to traffi, and so our usual viewing spot for the Great Bustard (Esp: Avutarda comün) (Lat: Otis Tarda) was denied us. A couple of other sightings were a pair of Hen Harriers (Esp:Agiluho Pallido) (Lat: Circus cyaneus) hunting low over the marshes, a a lareg bird of prey high up that we could not identify, probably one of the Eagles, but unsure. At our first stop I also heard a Curlew (Zarapito Real) (Lat:  Numenius arquata) calling.
All in all a great days birding, not just the variety, but the sheer numbers of the same species, especially the White storks, which probably numbered over 1000 individuals, they must travel some distance, as the number of nesting sites in the reserve is severely limited.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 19:35 PM by Dave »

Offline Sue

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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2007, 20:47 PM »
Hi Dave,

wow, that sounds like quite a day out! It is teaming with life there.

I wouldn't want to be a frog though :o

Regards, Sue
Thinking of visiting the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema in Andalucia?