El Hondo Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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On a splendid spring morning, the Costa Blanca Bird Club met at Las Palmeras, Crevillente, and was pleased to welcome no less than six newcomers amongst the 24 people gathered. Our first destination was a valley in the neighbouring Sierra, where we were immediately rewarded by views of a small flock of circling Red-billed Chough. After some patient searching, a keen pair of eyes detected a perched Bonelli’s Eagle, which we were all able to see, as it eventually took off and circled high before flying off northwards. 

We all then made our way to the El Hondo reserve centre, at San Felipe Neri, where we were obliged to share our preliminary viewing with a large group of schoolkids! Good numbers of Glossy Ibis were present, however, a very early Reed Warbler sang, and we managed to obtain good views of a Bluethroat. A good many House Martins and other hirundines flew high over the reeds, and even higher was the occasional Pallid Swift

We headed for lunch at the ever-reliable El Rocio, our President, David Roe, doing sterling work as an interpreter for the waitress. 

After lunch, the majority of the party revisited the Reserve, and were richly rewarded, as peace now reigned there, and waders had reappeared. A couple of Common Snipe were easy to see, and a Little Stint was soon located, but then a similar bird to the latter sported a breastband and pale legs – a Temminck’s Stint was added to our list. A larger wader came to our attention – its slim form, longish, fine bill and white underparts had us studying, then it became clear that the bird had yellow legs – a Lesser Yellowlegs. (which had been reported during the previous week) A female Little Ringed Plover was also present nearby, and as we enjoyed the waders, a dark phase Booted Eagle flew over, giving quite close views. There were also more Pallid Swifts – extremely high in the fine weather. We continued around the boardwalk, and were pleased to see to occupied nests of Red-knobbed Coot, one with eggs and the other with recently-hatched young. It had been a very successful day.