The Costa Blanca Bird Club squeezed their October field trip in just before the ‘World War Three’ of the hunting season was due to decimate the wildlife on Pego’s marshland. Some 19 members met on a morning more akin to midsummer than mid-October, with temperatures already pushing 30º and scarcely a breath of breeze. As we set off to walk westwards along the path we soon had great views of an unusually obliging Bluethroat, and several female Marsh Harriers were seen. A stately Great White Egret was amongst the smaller Little Egrets, and a late Purple Heron showed well. A Squacco Heron was another ‘leftover’ from summer and a Buzzard flew slowly eastwards. As thermals started to rise, circling Booted Eagles started to appear, some giving excellent views, all but one being pale phase birds. The heat started to get the better of some of us, and many opted for the shade of a shed, but walking back, my attention was drawn to a wagtail which may just have been a Citrine, but which I couldn’t see well enough to confirm. A Water Rail dashed out of cover and back again, then a beautifully marked male Marsh Harrier (it’s quite unusual to see adult males hereabouts) got us all excited for a few embarrassing moments.
We had our usual excellent lunch at Forna’s Nautilus restaurant, then returned to the marsh, where we soon saw an enormous flock of Glossy Ibis (at least 400) and I had a ‘conversation’ with a Grey Plover. Then, looking over the marsh to our north, we found Ruff, Redshank, at least four Lapwings, Dunlin, and, surprisingly, a solitary Garganey – it is to be hoped he clears off in the next couple of days before the Rambo look-alikes show up with their shotguns and dogs. Greenshank and Common Sandpiper were soon found to add to our list. It had been an enjoyable day in the sun – no fantastic rarities, but plenty to keep us entertained.