Sunday 25 January 2015

Change of plan

It was the middle of winter and I was planning another getaway to Iberia, the centre of the Narcissus universe.  I had sketched out a week in Galicia, where it would still be wet and cool, but there was a promise of one of the most delightful of all daffodils.  Those plans changed after Andy showed me his photos of Iberian Lynx from the Sierra de Andújar.  I wanted some of that.  The reaction of Bex, who was desperate for sunshine and wildlife, was similar.  Andalucía would be warm.  This was the best time of year to look for lynxes.  Andy had seen them six times in his week.  We knew what to do.

We arrived in Málaga on Saturday evening and drove to the Hotel Molino de Saydo, where we received a friendly welcome and a couple of nice quiet rooms.  Next morning we found sunshine at Laguna Fuente de Piedra, but Andalucía was still quite cold this early in the day.  By far the most abundant things here were Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  More than I thought were in the world, but not really what we had come for.  A mixed flock of Corn Buntings and Spanish Sparrows was more like it, as were the couple of Bluethroats and the Dartford Warbler in the clumps of rushes and saltmarsh plants.

There was an abundance of Stonechats and Chiffchaffs, and back at the boardwalk pool, Black-winged Stilts were looking nice in the low sunlight, and we found a Water Pipit among the many Meadows.  The water level in the lagoon was low, so there were not so many flamingoes, and most of them were rather distant.  But we found plenty to occupy ourselves with before the allure of another delicious alpargata back at the hotel dragged us away.

After lunch, we were back, checking the fields around the western side of the lagoon for Cranes.  There were two groups, each of about 120 birds.  They seemed so out of place.  I am used to flocks of geese in farmland fields, but a parade of long-legged birds this big looks so different.

We stopped at the Mirador de Cantarranas, where we were closer to the flamingoes, and half a dozen big Purple Gallinules were feeding at the edge of a reedbed.  Laguna Dulce had a few Red-crested Pochards but there were far fewer birds than there were in March last year.  We headed for the Sierra Morena before it got too late, passing a big White Stork nest with two big White Storks on it near Córdoba, and reaching the winding mountain roads just before dark.

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