El Mojon, San Pedro del Pinatar – Martin Harrison (visiting birder) – Jan/Feb 2018

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Having seen on Facebook photos of Little Stints taken at El Mojon, this was one of my targets for the trip. (Last time I saw one was 1971.
From Elche, autopista AP-7, at 2 x 2.15 Euros each way, isn’t cheap but it’s a relaxing and quick (120kph) way to cover the kilometres. Exit 774 and all the way around the second roundabout (for Lo Pagan and passing Lidl on your right). Left at the next roundabout and, after a couple of km, turn into another grotty housing estate. Take Calle Costa Azul, follow the one-way system as far as you can along Calle Coto de las Salinas, and park in the corner, by the playground and the bar. There are footpaths south through the scrub (of which more later) but the Little Stints, plural, spend much time pretty much under the footbridge. Gulls (mostly black-headed) seem to spend much of their time out on the water but always worth a check for something less common (I saw a female Red-breasted Merganser in the flock). Plenty of Chiffchaff action over the channel but look out for waders and egrets here.

Returning to the road between the motorway and the coast, a left at the next roundabout onto Avenida de las Salinas is where it all starts to get serious. In the sprawling hectares of salinas are easy-to-see Flamingos, Avocets and Black winged Stilts but, during the winter months, the Black-necked Grebes can be so close to the road, under the boardwalk, to be easily missed. From the first car park, a walk to the observation hide (next to the tower, which is closed) is worth investigation: As well as a variety of waders, all gulls are worth checking as Audouin’s Gull and Slender-billed Gull were there. There’s a boardwalk to the beach, through the afore-mentioned scrubland, where sightings of Dartford Warblers need only time and patience. In the southernmost corner of the beach are the usual small waders, including the occasional Kentish plover. Serins come to drink at the taps in the Merendero de las Salinas car park, closest to the beach and marina.

Back again to the Avenida and a left heads to what is pretty much a dead-end at Lo Pagan. A causeway heads way out to the coast, with Mar Menor on the right, salinas on the left. And almost anything to be seen on the water, including a Kingfisher that lives around the drain outfall. Doubtless there was much more to investigate . . .