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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

El Fondo ... very fond I am! Best Bluethroat, Great Grey Shrike & Wryneck pics ever, plus pretty pink Flamingoes & n Eagle to Boot!

Murcia and Almeria, the 2 most South-eastern regions of Spain do of course have their attractions and with that wonderful thing called hindsight I may have been better off taking in some of the history and heritage of these Moorish / Romanesque areas, like Cartegena or Baez, or even take in a bit of live music .... not doing enough of that and spending too much time on the road! Note to self as I'm halfway through my escapade.

Stand out day by a mile and worth every minute of motorway toil was Sunday at the El Fondo (actually just still inside Valenciana but lets not quibble!). I'd arrived Sat eve and after struggling to find an entrance ('oo er missus!') and then strayed onto the duck hunting area by mistake, I finally navigated myself to the reserve proper ... had about 30mins of decent light left but with Flamingoes and Marsh Harriers flying about, Chiff Chaffs in nearly every bush and some very chatty Flemish tourists (not Belgian .. we're Flemish!), it was enough to persuade me to stop over and do a morning there.

Frustrating as it was, in my walking about the previous day I had in fact added another 3 good species to the tally... Great Grey Shrike .......
Great Grey Shrike, Nr El Fondo

Booted Eagle ....
Booted Eagle, Nr El Fondo

and the most elusive, most skulking of birds ever, Bluethroat .....
Bluethroat, Nr El Fondo

Yes I know, rubbish and 'record only' pic, but at the time I seriously thought this was going to be one of my few opportunities to snap one of these 'Robin like' undergrowth dwellers. I needn't have fretted...... day 2 at El Fondo -

Now this is what a Bluethroat through the lens should look like!

Male Bluethroat, El Fondo

Male Bluethroat2, El Fondo
Male Bluethroat3, El Fondo
Male Bluethroat4, El Fondo
 I can't begin to tell you how lucky I was to get this beauty. I'd glimpsed this bird briefly but both it and I were a bit put off by the several groups of Spanish families doing the usual continental 'walkabout somewhere nice of a Sunday morning' kind of thing... but I was persistent and patient, got myself well positioned and just waited. An hour later, my pack up eaten and he showed up again in the same spot!

About 90 mins earlier, when I rolled up in the car park, I was just as lucky ... only had a couple of Wrynecks calling and perched on fence posts just 50 metres away from the van!
Wryneck, El Fondo
Wryneck, El Fondo

I'd not realised that some Wrynecks, so rare in the UK, over winter in this part of Spain. Never photographed one before!

As I was debating getting out of the van to get a closer shot, this monster Great Grey Shrike came and perched on the wire fence just in front of me..... megatastic and almost too close for my lens!!!
Great Grey Shrike, El Fondo

Now I may have happened on a good day but I'd thoroughly recommend El Fondo to any birder in this part of Spain ... its big, got good birds and the viewing platforms are 2nd to none. 

El Fondo reserve, nr Crevillent
Viewing platform, El Fondo .. with added Flamingoes!

 Zoom in on the above and you'll see some Flamingoes flying over. Many Winter here and I reckoned on about 300 in total ... here's a couple of fly pasts (so tricky not to cut at least one of their heads off!)

Flamingoes, El Fondo

Fan Tailed Warbler, or Zitting Cisticola if you prefer!
 Such was my luck on this most glorious of days, I even managed to capture a reasonable image of that most annoyingly cute little buzzy thing that if not heard, always makes you think you've seen something better! Its the curiously named Zitting Cisticola or Fan Tailed Warbler of course!
..... to my mind this is a much 'posier' and 'eagle like' Booted Eagle
Booted Eagle, El Fondo

..... although not the prettiest of birds, this Glossy Ibis, an isolated individual amongst several flocks around the reserve, deserves a slot too on one of my best ever days for bird photography
Glossy Ibis, El Fondo

..... last up and one of my personal favourite and most photogenic of waders, the good old Black Winged Stilt, lots here!
Black Winged Stilt, El Fondo

 Fab day and that was 4 days ago. In Tarifa now, right on the Southern most tip of Spain ... the good old Rio Jara camp site, still going ... I first came here 25 years ago!!!

1 comment:

  1. Might have an armchair tick for you here - the photos you've labelled as Great Grey Shrikes are in fact Southern Grey Shrikes! Great Greys are a mega rarity here in Spain!
    Have fun on your travels,
    All the best,
    Richard Howard