Saturday, October 9, 2010

Desperate for water

The long, dry, summer takes its toll. This year it hasn't been as bad as usual. In spite of no rain for three months, the heavy rains of last winter have kept a few pools alive. Clouds threaten but little water has fallen so far. It seems hard to think how much we wanted the rains to stop, and now everything alive needs the rejuvenating water. The surviving pools attract all manner of animals (below):
In DoƱana the wild horses gather in the remaining lakes where they share the water with flamingoes and ducks.
...but not all of the lakes have retained water, so these animals have to wander across large areas in search of water.

Red Deer (above), just finishing the rut, warily approach the lakes while Fallow Deer (below), just starting the rut, set up territories on the edge of the marshes where there is some fresh grazing.

Patrolling drainage channels, close to large rivers and salt pans, is a favourite pastime of the heron family, particularly Little Egrets

Little Egrets (above) and Grey Herons (below) patiently stalk the water margin

But they are not always left to themselves. Sometimes a surprise (below) lurks out from the reeds

Hermit Crabs, which live on the muddy banks, seem to be a main target
but the herons don't have it all to themselves (below)...
though they try and get their own back, looking for an opportunity in the fish farms (below)!
when all else fails, waterbirds will gather between the locks on drainage canals (below)
where they have to keep a watchful eye on the predatory Marsh Harriers that incessantly patrol its edges (below)

the remaining lakes gather thousands of waterbirds

the pink Greater Flamingoes are among the most spectacular
their numbers are overtaken, though, by the tight flocks of Glossy Ibises (below)
...and there are the migrants. Thousands of waders arrive from the north-western Europe and the High Arctic, on their way south to West Africa or to remain here for the winter. They mix with the local waders (below)
Local and migrant Avocets mix with migrant Black-tailed Godwits (above) in salt pans
Flight of Black-tailed Godwits (above) and Avocets with Black-tailed Godwits (below)

Single Avocet feeding in salt pan
Bar-tailed Godwits (above and below) prefer to feed on the river's edge

Common Sandpiper
Greenshank (left) with Bar-tailed Godwit
Ringed Plover
Temminck's Stint
Black-winged Stilts
Squacco Heron I began to write these lines, itstarted to rain outside!