El Hondo fields and the Vistabella road

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29Nov-1We set off across the Salinas, noting the usual species there, including Greater Flamingo, Little Egret, Avocet, Shelduck and Black winged Stilt. Our regular route took us past the ‘little reserve’ where we saw a raptor, probably a Buzzard on it’s usual pylon, before we noticed an unusually large number of Woodpigeons sitting in the trees and flying around. In amongst the pigeons were 2 Booted Eagles being mobbed and another one was sitting in it’s favourite tree where we have often seen it before. Unfortunately, it flew off before we could get a photo. We continued on our route, adding Cattle Egret to our list, past the ‘little owl house’ where there were no owls in residence today. As we drove along this track a Green Sandpiper came flying out of the water channel and disappeared over the reeds, this was followed by another, then another, and by the time we had reached the end of the road we must have seen about 20 of these birds! A Snipe also flew out of the channel just to add a bit of variety. Our next stop was by the Vistabella house where there was nothing to see so we continued down the road to find the new hide we had heard about. We crossed over the bridge seeing a female Red Crested Pochard in the canal and numerous Chiffchaffs flitting about in the bushes. A short, but rather muddy walk took us towards the small hide and John spotted a Kingfisher as it shot away from us at speed.

The hide gave us good views of the lagoon where many Greater Flamingo were feeding at the far side of the lake, along with at least 14 Great White Egrets. Both Black necked Grebe and Little Grebe were in the water near the hide and a single female Shoveler swam by. We enjoyed watching a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds until John told me to grab the camera as a Great White Egret was flying towards the hide. I missed that one but about six more followed on so I was able to get at least one reasonable photo of this impressive bird. We were looking for small birds in the reeds but saw only a single Chiffchaff from the hide. The only other raptors we saw were distant Booted Eagles. As we left the hide John set off with the camera but I had to call him back as I had heard something coming towards us. 4 Common Cranes soon came into view flying right over the hide, our first sighting of Cranes this winter, brilliant! These birds are always great to see so we decided to give them the award for ‘Bird of the Day’. We headed home for lunch, as usual, tired but happy.

Species list – Little Grebe, Black necked Grebe, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Common Crane, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Red crested Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing, Snipe, Black headed Gull, Slender billed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Magpie, House sparrow, Goldfinch.