Today was the first outing for the year of ‘The Three Amigos’. We decided to do our regular trip around the Santa Pola salinas and the El Hondo fields and I especially wanted to look for the 80+ Glossy Ibis which had been seen by Barry and Malcolm yesterday. Our first stop was at the lay by next to the salinas where a number of small waders were sheltering at the edge of the lake, including Dunlin, Turnstones and a Redshank. It was no wonder they were hiding from the wind as it was quite strong and very cold, meaning that we didn’t stick around very long. We moved on to the next pull in for another scan of the lake but found very little, other than the usual Little Egrets, Greater Flamingos, Shelducks and a Grey Heron. We set off across the lanes and headed for the ‘palm farm road’ where we saw a Great White Egret flying and a few Cattle Egrets following a farmer on his tractor. As we neared the end of this lane we spotted the flooded field Barry had told me about and, as he had said, it was filled with birds! There were 80+ Glossy Ibis, hundreds of Lapwings and Starlings, 8 Golden Plovers, 4 Wood Sandpipers a few Little Egrets a Great White Egret, a Green Sandpiper and numerous White Wagtails and Cattle Egrets. It was a spectacular sight especially when the birds periodially took off and flew around a bit before landing again!
After a while most of the Glossy Ibis took off and flew away across the fields to our left so we set off in pursuit and found them again on a nearby farmer’s field. While we were looking at them a group of three large birds came flying towards us and we quickly realised these were Common Cranes, an added bonus. A nearby flooded field was filled with more White Wagtails along with some Tree Sparrows and the odd Water Pipit. We decided to have a look at the new Carrizales de Elche reserve, and after sucessfully navigating the log over the water channel we disturbed a few Coots which flew off to the other side of the lake. The place was very quiet birdwise but we did flush 2 Green Sandpipers and a group of 10 Cranes were seen flying over the nearby fields. We decided to re-visit the original flooded field to see if the Glossy Ibis had returned and try to get some photos. The Glossy Ibis were indeed back in the field and we sat in the car watching them, and enjoying the sight of another group of about 30+ Common Cranes as they flew overhead. On the drive back over the salinas we spotted 2 Spoonbills feeding close the the edge of the lake and not far from the road. It had been a great day out and we enjoyed catching up with Bryan and seeing some amazing birds