Petrola Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club, to compensate for trips cancelled due to April’s inclement weather, organised an extra outing in late May, and ten members met near Almansa, before heading out for the plains north of Bonete.

Almost immediately, we had good views of a Rock Sparrow, a species which can be elusive – a good start to the day. When we returned to Bonete, a Black Kite circled near the motorway, then we made our way steadily to Corral Rubio, pausing to scan the lagoon on the right, where no less than four White-headed Duck swam, as well as several Gadwall. Gull-billed and Whiskered Tern coursed over the water, and the first of many Marsh Harriers soon came into view. Parking, however, is impossible on the road into the village, so we had to wait until we had found our way out onto the good farm-tracks beyond before we could have a decent pause.

Here we were soon looking at several waders, including Lapwing, Little Stint, a solitary Curlew Sandpiper and a little group of Little Ringed Plover. More Marsh Harriers included two fine males, and there was every sign that at least a pair was breeding there.

Making our way across the rolling plains, it wasn’t long before we came across the first pair of Great Bustards of the day –always the Nº 1 objective of a visit hereabouts. Several of us managed to get some sort of photograph, despite the increasing heat-haze. A young Golden Eagle flew some way to the north. Nearby we stopped at a marshy area, and watched a Yellow Wagtail, as well as a Zitting Cisticola, then it was time to head for Pétrola’s lagoon, where two Lesser Flamingos had been reported a few days ago. Alas, there was no sign of the vagrants amongst the enormous numbers of Greater Flamingo. There was evidence of breeding by several pairs of Kentish Plover on the abandoned Salinas – good news for a species that is struggling in its old coastal haunts.

Our group made its way back to Corral Rubio for an excellent lunch, after which we took another ride across the plains, where Corn Buntings were everywhere, and two more pairs of Great Bustards were seen. It had been a good day.

Petrola Field Trip by Greta Owen©