Alcoy Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club held its October outing in the Alcoy area, and 13 members met just outside that town prior to taking the twisting road up to the Font Roja. As we arrived at the car park, in the shade of the great Sanctuary, we were dismayed to find that two coachloads of remarkably noisy small children had preceded us by a couple of minutes. This, however, was an obstacle to be overcome, and we found a quiet area where the ringers were working one of their regular stints, with several mist-nets in place. They were kind enough to allow our members to see their operation at close quarters, and we watched as Coal Tits and Great Tits were ringed, weighed and measured, as well as the local ‘speciality’ – a Blue Tit, a species practically absent from the rest of Alicante province. Robin and Serin joined the list, and we were fortunate enough to see Long-tailed Tits in the car park area, before we had to leave and drive back down through Alcoy.

Coal Tit by Greta Owen©

We headed out on the Banyeres road, then turned off towards Preventori, where Crested Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper were soon added to our short list. A short drive then took us to the famous ‘Vulture Valley’ – as ever living up to its reputation, as at least thirty Griffon Vultures could be seen soaring overhead at one time, and there was never a moment when a few could not be seen. One or two still had late young being fed on the nests.

A pair of Ravens croaked, then flew out from the great cliff, and a lovely Black Wheatear showed well close by. A Blue Rock Thrush was around its habitual perch on an old chimney, and a Black Redstart completed the picture

Eventually we made our way through the myriad traffic lights of the bustling town, and out on the N340 to the Venta San Jordi, where we enjoyed a very nice lunch, then most of us made for the Xorret de Catí, near Castalla, to finish the day. An almost traditional geographical ‘glitch’ marred the trip slightly, but we did arrive, and were rewarded by a remarkable number of Jays – there were at least seven of them. A good many Chaffinches were there too, as was a Linnet and a Mistle Thrush, but otherwise, very little.