A Visit to San Felipe by Malcolm Palmer

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RedknobbedCootBy Malcolm Palmer

Not having visited the Visitor Centre for a while, Barry and I decided to have a look in on a steaming hot morning. Bee Eaters were much in evidence, and a Pallid Swift flew with them. One or two Marsh Harriers were early autumn visitors, quartering the reeds. We took a look at the ‘captive breeding’ pool, where Red-knobbed Coots have been released. There isn’t really anything ‘captive’ about it, as I suppose birds can fly away whenever they wish, but they seem to like it, and numbers have certainly increased. We saw positive evidence of this in the form of a chick being fed by a ‘collared’ bird – one of the original released ones, whilst several uncollared adults were in evidence too – very encouraging. A great clumsy Purple Swamphen clambered around in the reeds at the far side. Little moved in the intense heat, as we walked along the boardwalk, but we did hear a very earlyBluethroat, as well as Cetti’s Warbler, and Reed Warbler, and a Kingfisher flew past, as did a pair of noisy Greenshank. A Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper were in the dyke.

littleringedplover When we arrived at the furthest hide, things were much more interesting – gulls and terns were well represented, with obvious signs of breeding success by Common Tern in particular. Little Ringed Plover were very numerous – we had heard them call before we even arrived at the hide, and a wader gave us a good deal of difficulty, before a horrible photograph resolved it into a Wood Sandpiper. A little good fortune then transpired, in the shape of a superb Marsh Sandpiper, which landed at point-blank range. A couple ofSpotted Redshanks were much more distant, but then a Ruff landed on the island in front of us. It is nice to see that some planting of trees is being carried out in the car-parking area. When they are mature, they should become a magnet for migrants, due to the general dearth of woodland in the area – but it will be interesting to see just what has been planted! Through no lack of enthusiasm on the part of the staff, the San Felipe Centre is something of a Monument to Missed Opportunity – so much more could be done. But pay it a visit – I guess the more people who do, the more encouragement they will get.MarshSandpiper