The start of the New Year seemed like a good opportunity to get out and make a start on my bird list for 2015. The weather was a lot warmer than the previous day as the wind had dropped. Our first stop was at the tower lay by on the Salinas where a number of birders and photographers had clearly had the same idea. There was a good selection of birds here including a few Spoonbills and Great White Egrets at the far edge of the lake, along with Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Slender billed and Yellow legged Gulls. A couple of Sandwich Terns were diving for fish and a small group of Turnstone flew close by.
We left the Salinas and headed off on our usual route along a track across the fields just past, what I call ‘the little reserve’. From the top of the bridge John spotted three Lapwings and three Golden Plovers in the field to our right. Further along a small group of Linnets perched on a wire to allow us to identify them. We continued along the track and I spotted a flock of large birds in the air so we stopped to have a look. They were Cranes and John counted about 22 of them. We added White Wagtail, Spotless Starling and Crag Martin to the list before we turned right at the end of the track. A Southern Grey Shrike was perched on a wire, House Sparrows flitted around the farm buildings, and a Kingfisher made a brief appearance before it flew away along a water channel. Next we headed towards the, now famous, ‘palm farm track’ which was a little quiet, giving us Woodpigeon, Common Starling, a Kestrel hunting, Crested Lark, Serin, Blackbird, Coot, Cormorant, a Buzzard perched on the edge of a building and a large flock of pipits, probably Meadow Pipits flying around a field and occasionally landing. At the end of this track we turned right into ‘green sandpiper alley’ where we counted eight Green Sandpipers before we reached the end. Another Kingfisher showed well flying along the edge of the field, occasionally landing before taking off again. A bit further along we met Paul and Greta coming the other way and stopped for a brief chat.
Our next stop was near to the first hide on the Vistabella road, although we didn’t visit the hide today. While we were standing by the car another (or the same) group of about 14 Cranes flew over the road and away across to El Hondo. We turned round and headed back past the Vistabella house to take the next left turn after ‘green sandpiper alley’. As we approached the turning a group of Glossy Ibis flew over, just the bird we had been hoping for as we haven’t seen them for quite a while. We followed them as they flew ahead of us along this track. I attempted a few photos, with little success as the birds had the sun behind them. As these birds disappeared into the distance John spotted yet another Kingfisher sitting on a telephone wire, which seemed unusual. We stopped and sat in the car while the bird continued to fly along the water channel, landing at various places along the bank and giving us some of the best views we have had of this bird. From here we set off back towards home, stopping briefly at the back of the Salinas. After a little waiting and scanning the sky I spotted an Osprey flying towards us, the bird we had been hoping to find here. We headed back across the Salinas adding a few more species as we did some ‘drive by birding’. It had been a great start to our birding year.
Species list – Cormorant, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Common Crane, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Coot, Moorhen, Black winged Stilt, Turnstone, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Slender billed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Common Starling, Magpie, House Sparrow, Serin, Linnet.