El Clot – Martin Harrison (Visiting birder) – Jan/Feb 2018

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Esther, a receptionist at the Elche Ibis hotel, said this was by far the best place to go. So I went. She was right. Follow CV-865 (Santa Pola) and then north on N-332 to Gran Alacant. Follow the road through some rather gruesome housing and down into the Clot (hollow). Left turn (inland) at the sign and DO NOT underrate the car park where, below the trees, fallen berries are enormously popular food for . . . for mainly Black Redstarts. Tons of them. Plus White Wagtails and Serins. The only place (that I know of) where the usually shy Sardinian Warblers happily come down to the ground to feed. Photos from the driver’s seat of your rental car are easy-peasy!
A walk into the reserve, early in the morning, should be good for plenty of Southern Grey Shrikes, atop any available tree or pole. The two ponds (charcas) that contain water are called Limicolas (waders, but don’t count on it) and Anatidas (ducks, mostly Shovelers). For a quick visit to the ponds, drive along the edge of the housing estate on Av de Carabasi, park between Calles Caragola and Capitel, and there’s a gated access across the road. One unforgettable moment: sitting with 150-600 zoom pointing out of the driver’s window, a pair – A PAIR – of Crossbills landed on my windscreen wiper, looked at me as if they KNEW my minimum focus distance made photos impossible. Talk about bitter-sweet!