January Field Trip – Mar Menor – Malcolm Palmer

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As is customary, Rob and Kathy Dowsett led the Costa Blanca Bird Club’s January outing to the region of the Mar Menor, and some 21 members met up at the Salinas of San Pedro del Pinatar, while a Greenshank and a Redshank waded nearby. We moved on then to the Visitor Centre, where a productive ditch usually gives us a bird or two – some members had a Kingfisher there, others a Bluethroat, and most saw a Ruff.

Next stop was El Mojón, which was not particularly good, but a Common Sandpiper was nice. Several of us were anxious to get down to Cabo de Palos, having seen the news of the Brown-necked Raven that had appeared there, (a North African species which had wandered to our shores). We drove down there somewhat rapidly, and had only been in the car park ten minutes or so, when the very bird glided over, showing its typical raven tail-shape, and when it perched on a nearby building, we could clearly see its thinner bill than the native species, and hear its rather higher-pitched voice. The sheen of brown on the neck was visible in the sunshine.

While we were there Rock Doves and Shag were well seen, before we moved on to the Salinas, where a few waders and some nice Audouin’s Gulls and three Spoonbill were seen. A grand lunch at the Restaurante Campoverde followed, during which we saw a few of the pestilential Monk Parakeets, then we made for the coast of the Mar Menor. A Great White Egret was posing nicely. A little way inland, Pete energetically flushed a group of Stone Curlew, and we rounded off proceedings with views of Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes fishing in the calm waters.