June 21, 2012
Sadly, it’s our last day with Sterling and Teresa. We got an early start and headed off to the Reserva Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, a large, shallow saline lake which is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of flamingos in Europe. During good years, upwards of 20,000 pair of flamingos breed and rear chicks here. Sadly, this wasn’t a good year and the lake had nearly dried up. Teresa was able to ascertain that the main body of the flock had left for an alternate nesting site, but there were several hundred birds still hanging around at the far end of the lake which was sadly inaccessible. I had so been looking forward to seeing them and was extremely disappointed. We could see a flock in the distance, but photos just showed a bunch of whitish birds. :o( But the day wasn’t a total loss, with lots of other birds such as avocet, black-necked stilts, terns and lapwings. We were wandering around the Reserva when, low & behold, we found a small group of flamingos! There were only about 10 of them and they actually weren’t very pink, but you still get to add them to your life list! The pink coloration comes from food in the diet, so I suspect that these were either young birds, or adults that couldn’t find a mate because they weren’t the fittest of the bunch. We were still able to get some photos of them in classic flamingo poses, although Jeanette was seriously wishing she’d lugged the really big camera lens along! As we were leaving the Reserva, we were rewarded with another unexpected strange bird sighting: a hoopoe! Sterling and Teresa had been talking about seeing hoopoe for the entire trip, but honestly we were starting to believe they were pulling our leg: no bird could be this silly looking! But one flew right in front of the car as we were in the Reserva driveway, prompting shouts of “Hoopoe!! Stop the car!! Where did it go??”. We barely pulled off the road before people were jumping out. We all got to see the bird, but it was too elusive for pictures. Just as you were getting into camera range, it would fly off another 50 or 60 feet. No matter, we know it’s real and it’s another for the life list.
We had just enough time for a short hike at El Torcal before heading to the train station. El Torcal is another fantastic eroded limestone landscape. We had a beautiful and invigorating walk, got to see a baby Ibex, and even had time for a rejuvenating beverage after our walk.
There were sad goodbyes at the Antequera train station as we farewell to good friends and to Andalucia.