Birding on the Costa – By Trevor Ashley and Bryan Thomas

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Great White Egret by Bryan Thomas©
Great White Egret by Bryan Thomas©

Sunday 9th Feb – A quick look at the Santa Pola Salinas produced 2 Osprey, 14 Spoonbill, 1 Great White Egret and 3 Little Stint. The fields to the south of the Vistabella Road provided Cranes, 49 together and fairly close. Not a lot else apart from a flock of Skylarks and a few Tree Sparrows. We had visited this area 2 days earlier and got 6 Cranes along with a number of Green and Wood Sandpipers.

Monday 10th Feb – Sierra Espuna. First stop was the restaurant area where the wild boar are fed. A good number of small birds here. 20+ Chaffinch and pleasingly Rock Bunting, Crested Tit and a Blue Tit. Next stop was the top where the temperature had fallen to 4 degrees and the gale force winds made standing up something of a challenge! The wind-chill was extreme to say the least. Birds were clearly keeping their heads down, except for a single Peregrine demonstrating how to fly in such conditions. After a few minutes we moved back down to the car park for the ice-caves. We braved the elements to visit the spring in the natural amphitheatre where the main ice-caves are situated. Our main objective was to see the Ring Ouzels. Not difficult to achieve here and so we didn’t stay long in the strong wind. Further down at the t- junction the usual Crossbills were in attendance but not much else. We decided at this point to cut our losses and take a look at the Guadelentin Valley. An easy enough journey down the motorway, except that we overshot our exit by 20 or so kilometres. I had previously used the junction numbers but since I was last here they seem to have been changed. Close inspection revealed new numbers stuck over the old! As they say ‘you live and learn’. The temperature in the valley was 16 degrees but still fairly windy. The birding was disappointing with few birds being seen, in fact nothing significant to note.

Wed 12th Feb – San Pedro and Cabo de Palos. Sunny and 19 degrees made it good to be out! Not a great number of birds (nothing like the number of waders on the beach when the CBBC visited here last month). 4 Black-tailed Godwits were good to see. Onward to Cabo de Palos where I was sure we would get good views of Gannet and hopefully Shearwaters. Sure enough the Gannets were close in and feeding. Great views. Unfortunately no one told the Shearwaters we would be there and they stayed out to sea. A quick look at Santa Pola harbour on the way back produced a single Gannet along with Audouin’s and Mediterranean Gulls.

pendulineThurs 15th Feb – Last day for me, flying home in the evening so a short visit to the Salinas and the Vistabella Road. Just as we pulled in by the Tamarit Tower an Osprey flew low overhead, carrying a good size fish. The bird landed on it’s usual perch in the lagoon and set about it’s meal. Sandwich Tern and Slender billed Gull were performing well next to the car parking area. On arrival at the main hide on the Vistabella Road we bumped into a well known local birder who had just had good views of Moustached Warbler and Penduline Tit. After a few minutes Bryan excitedly shouted to put my bins on a particular bird. It’s identity was never in doubt. A Greater Spotted Eagle. It drifted slowly along being harassed by the much smaller Marsh Harrier. Telescope views were superb and photographs hopefully show this. On this occasion we really did save the best till last. Home on a high!