The Costa Blanca Bird Club held its October field trip in the Alcoy area, and there were several notable absentees when just eleven members met up on a bright, cool morning which was soon to warm up rapidly. Our small group made its way up to the iconic Font Roja, where it was soon clear that we were to have considerable competition from a noisy group of schoolchildren.
Undaunted, we set out into a sector of evergreen woodland that seemed relatively undisturbed, and were soon rewarded with good views of two Firecrests – a small bird that is often difficult to see. A little more patience was needed to find the obligatory Blue Tit – this being perhaps the only place in Alicante province where the species is reliably available. A Coal Tit in the tall trees by the car park was the only other bird of note before we made our way back, through the town, and up to Preventori.
Here there were three coachloads of kids, including my grandaughter(!), but somehow, we managed to see Crested Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper (which were the ‘objects of the exercise’) before moving around to ‘Vulture Valley.’ Our luck was in here. Several Griffon Vultures were perched on rocks, and some sailed along the cliff, but more interesting was a pair of Ravens, a dashing Peregrine Falcon, and a Blue Rock Thrush on the old ruins opposite.
Lunch was excellent, at the Restaurante San Jordi, then most of us drove through Castalla, and up the steep climb to the Xorret de Catí. It was to prove a very interesting afternoon. As soon as we parked by the pond, we saw a lovely male Crossbill on top of a pine, and a Mistle Thrush on a bare branch. Serins and Chaffinches darted to and fro, and it wasn’t long before Barry called our attention to obvious wing-bars, denoting Siskin – and there were several – never an easy bird to find in our area. Soon he spotted the Rock Bunting he had been seeking, and it wasn’t long before I found another, drinking from a water-channel. A Song Thrush perched in a nearby tree was another find, and at least two Jays were present – it had been a veritable feast of small birds to end a pleasant day.