Alcoy Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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On a cool, rather blustery October morning, seventeen of us congregated near Alcoy, for the October meeting of the Costa Blanca Bird Club. The number included two or three new faces, though several ‘regulars’ were conspicuous by their absence, for a variety of reasons.

We headed for the reserve of the Font Roja, normally a good site for lots of small birds. It was, however, extremely windy, never good conditions for seeing arboreal species, and we had to be content with some fleeting views of a Common Redstart, as the sole interesting bird that was found before we ‘threw in the towel’ and headed for the next stop, which was Preventori, and some more woodland. Here we fared only a little better, but a Sparrowhawk gave a couple of views and we were entertained by the antics of a couple of Red Squirrels. Two Ravens floated out from hillsides nearby. The group at least managed to get a look at a pair of Sardinian Warblers at close quarters.

We made our way to ‘Vulture Valley,’ and the eponymous carrion-eaters didn’t disappoint, floating majestically around the crags in good numbers. Apart from Griffon Vultures, the only other raptor we saw there was another Sparrowhawk, but we had good views of the resident Blue Rock Thrush, as well as a Black Redstart. The more energetic members walked further down the valley and were rewarded by good views of a Black Wheatear.

The group returned to the Venta San Jordi for a good lunch, whereupon some members had to return northwards, whilst the rest of us headed for Castalla and the Xorret de Katí. As soon as we arrived beside the pond we became aware of activity in the nearby poplars and pines. Altogether there must have been at least twenty Siskins, zipping around from tree to tree, some alighting to drink from the margins of the pond. Not a species that is ever easy to find in our area, this is one place where they seem to be regular autumn visitors. There were also a few Chaffinches there, and, as we prepared to leave, a solitary Jay appeared. A lone Common Buzzard saw us head for home.