Field Trip to Pego Marsh – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club, as has just about become traditional, held its September field meeting at the Marjal de Pego, which presented a rather sorry, churned-up aspect, as most of the rice-harvest had been completed.

Distant groups of Little Egrets flew, but little else stirred as we set off to walk a short way along one of the paths through the marsh. Looking along a line of reeds, however, we were first of all pleased to see a Water Rail racing across, quickly (rather too quickly for some!) followed by two Spotted Crakes. The odd early Bluethroat flicked up its tail somewhat closer at hand. Many Grey Herons were in attendance, but our main attention was on three hillocks ahead, over which raptors started to appear, soaring on the thermals into clear blue sky. Several Marsh Harriers showed up, but the bulk of the birds were Booted Eagles, as is to be expected. One larger bird turned out to be a Short-toed Eagle, whilst a lone Honey Buzzard was soon found to the south of us. Along the reeds a ‘ring-tail’ Hen Harrier flew rapidly by.

We drove around to take a look at the reserve area, seeing for ourselves the site of the re-introduction scheme for the Osprey – no birds currently being present. On the way, I did manage to see a rather late Swift, and a glimpsed large raptor may well have been a young Bonelli’s Eagle. We made for a cooling drink and most excellent lunch at Adsubia’s La Moleta Restaurant, whereupon a few of us paid a further visit to the Marjal, adding a single Spoonbill to the list, and seeing more Booted Eagles, as well as rather a lot of Yellow Wagtails. It had been a pleasant day out in the hot sun, but rather more in the way of birds would have been welcome.