If anyone has been checking this blog for birding information lately, they may have been disappointed! I have had little time for blogging or birding over the last few months, but at last we are back in Spain and today had a couple of hours driving around the El Hondo fields.
Our first stop was a short one at the rocky place by the Santa Pola Salinas where we were happy to see the usual Greater Flamingos as well as a small group of Spoonbills. There were also a few Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Avocet, Black winged Stilts, and a couple of Great Crested Grebe. If anyone goes there I suggest you look out for a ‘Giant Mallard’ which is outside a shed on the other side of the lagoon. It looks like a huge model of a duck, although what it is for I have no idea! We continued on and along the ‘Bee eater road’ where we saw a Little Owl sitting on the roof of a building. From here we made our way to the ‘palm farm road’ where we came across numerous Yellow Wagtails, along with a few Wheatears, and plenty of Swallows and House Martins, presumably all passing through on migration. Further along the road we passed a large group of Cattle Egrets in the field to our left, and came across local birder Eddie, so we had a quick catch up and compared notes. We turned right at the end of the road and drove along the track we now call ‘Green Sandpiper alley’, which lived up to it’s name producing several of these birds as they flew out of the water channel.
Our next stop was by the Vistabella house where we had a quick look round and saw a Grey Heron and a Squacco Heron sitting, one on each side of a sluice gate. While we were looking at the herons, a bird came flying along the water channel. I didn’t look at it initially thinking it was probably a Swallow but as it came past we could see it was a Kingfisher. We had quite a good view as it continued along the channel and landed momentarily on a wall, before disappearing into the reeds. This was our bird of the day so far. We moved on to the Vistabella hide where the lack of water was at least attracting some waders, including Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank and Spotted Redshank. We watched Marsh Harriers hunting over the reeds then John spotted another raptor – an Osprey, which became our joint top bird of the day. We headed home, having enjoyed just a couple of hours out but it had been a good start to our winter birding.
Species list – Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Turnstone, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Bar tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Black headed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Swallow, House Martin, Chiffchaff, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Magpie, House Sparrow, Goldinch.