Birding on the Costa Blanca – Steve Saunders

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28/03/18 – El Pinet – a very brief visit at 6pm, the most noteworthy sightings amongst the residents being a Stone Curlew, several Whiskered Tern and around 50+ Slender-billed Gull.


29/03/18 – San Felipe – Species List – Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Black-winged Stilt, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Garganey (2), Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Grey Heron, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Pochard, Booted Eagle (2), Swallow, Collared Pratincole (4+), Little-ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Snipe, Ruff, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Night Heron (15+ in flight), Stonechat (breeding pair), Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Serin. Iberian Grey Shrike, Zitting Cisticola, Glossy Ibis.


30/03/18 – Guadalest – Blue Rock Thrush


31/03/18 – El Hondo (North Gate) am – A strong breeze soon picked up and there were hundreds of Common and Pallid Swift hawking low over the reeds along with large numbers of Swallow and House Martin. At least 1 Osprey was present and a couple of resident British birders were stating Gull-billed Tern amongst the other marsh terns that were silhouetted over the reed beds. I couldn’t make a positive I/d so for that reason I have not included it in the list.

Species List – Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler, Greater Flamingo, Coot, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Egret, Ruff, Avocet , Black-winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis, White-headed Duck (30+), Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Reed Warbler, Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Black Tern, Kentish Plover.


31/03/18 – El Hondo (San Felipe) – Of note were a small number of Collared Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Stint. From the hides on the Vistabella Road I would estimate 150-200 Black-necked Grebe and a few White-headed Duck.


02/04/18 – La Mata – This was Easter Sunday, so it got busy very quickly. On the lagoon were some 30+ Sanderling, 20+ Little Stint, several Curlew Sandpiper, a flock of Turnstone and a Grey Plover.


04/04/18 – Yecla – I spent a very enjoyable day here with Bryan Thomas. I note that your correspondents Stephan and Els also spent the day in the area although we didn’t see them. We arrived around 9am at which time there was only a light breeze, enabling us to pick out the song of a distant Mistle Thrush, but a cold wind soon picked up and continued relentlessly throughout the day. Fortunately the sun remained unobscured so we eventually warmed up, but the wind would undoubtedly have kept some birds grounded. Nevertheless we were able to I/d Thekla, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks amongst the numerous Crested and Calendra. A Merlin hugged the ground as it flashed across a field and we had good views of Lesser Kestrels. A pair of Great Spotted Cuckoo were briefly encountered and flocks of some 50 Pin tailed Sandgrouse were watched at a distance, in the middle of which were a couple of Stone Curlew. Bryan also heard and pointed out some very distant Black Bellied Sandgrouse, but I didn’t get a good enough look to include them on my list.

The undoubted highlight was the appearance over a mountain ridge of a Golden Eagle which very quickly floated directly over us at height and then folded its wings and went into a stoop. I imagined it was performing a courtship display until it abruptly pulled out of its dive, twisted, shot out a leg and plucked some small passerine out of the sky, probably a lark!  An enthralling moment – unless you happened to be the unfortunate victim. For the eagle it would be the equivalent of us eating a biscuit I would think.

Species list- Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Hoopoe, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven, Jackdaw, Chough, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Calandra Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black-eared Wheatear, (Northern) Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Merlin, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Serin, Swallow, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Pintailed Sandgrouse (50+), Great Spotted Cuckoo, Stone Curlew,  Red-legged Partridge,Sardinian Warbler.


05/04/18 – El Pinet – I note that Andrew Lamb didn’t find any Collared Pratincole here the day before, but there were six or more today, along with 100 or more Curlew Sandpiper. Also a Willow Warbler feeding near the tower hide and Red-rumped Swallows collecting mud near the car park.