Field Trip – El Hondo/Santa Pola areas – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club held its February outing centred around the wetlands of southern Alicante, and some 25 members met on a chilly morning in the carpark of the Hondo Visitor Centre near San Felipe de Neri. No sooner had we set off to walk around the reserve than members were treated to the sight of a Common Sandpiper and a Bluethroat close to the path. On the little ‘Charco de Contacto’ at least two Red-knobbed Coot swam, whilst on the main lagoon a few duck included a female Pintail. Some members saw three Little Ringed Plover there, and a Snipe fed in the shallows. A walk around the reserve brought a single Marbled Duck, a small flight of Stone Curlew, and larger flock of Glossy Ibis, whilst many Marsh Harriers quartered the reedbeds nearby. Flocks of Crag Martin fed high up as the weather improved.

We moved on to the Vistabella area, and were immediately aware of a considerable movement of Booted Eagles, a constant numbers sailing overhead. I found a Pallid Swift amongst the Crag Martins but there was little else, as we headed for El Pinet. There three Spoonbill fed, near a nice flock of Black-tailed Godwit. A Great White Egret stood nearby. Time for lunch, and we took this at what used to be Tano’s, in Santa Pola. Well fed, our afternoon venue was the Clot de Galvany, where many more Crag Martins flew, but they included a few House Martins and the odd Barn Swallow. A couple of nice Grey Wagtails tussled on the bank, and there were a great many Teal and Shoveler. It had been a pleasant day, in – as usual – convivial company.