Torrevieja and El Hondo Field Trip – David Roe

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On a grey and cold (well, cold by Costa Blanca standards!) February morning, 18 members and guests met at the cemetery car park at La Mata. The familiar sound of an Iberian Green Woodpecker was immediately to be heard, and later seen, as we set off in the direction of the main hide by the lake. Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Linnet, Stonechat, Great Tit, Black Redstart, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Sardinian Warbler and, of course, House Sparrow were the small birds we saw en route, both there and back. We also saw Kestrels, Hoopoes, Blackbirds, Pigeons and Wood Pigeons. Approaching the hide, some of the small waders by the shore were scared off by a fox, which was patrolling the bank. From the hide, over 100 Flamingos were seen, along with Grey Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Shelduck and Cormorant. The day had started well.

From La Mata we made the short journey to Cabo Cervera. There we saw more Grey Plovers, Dunlins and Cormorants, but also saw a Grey WagtailLittle Egrets, Turnstones, Sanderlings, Black-headed Gulls, Audouin’s Gulls and a single Yellow-legged Gull out on the sea. The highlights, though, were a Whimbrel, three Mediterranean Gulls, one of which was clearly a second-winter bird with black markings on the wing-tips, and an adult Gannet, flying past us out at sea.

Our next stop was the so-called Azure-Winged Magpie site, near Torrevieja Hospital. A visit to this site doesn’t always guarantee seeing these birds, but we saw at least six of them, both flying and perching. Other birds seen there were Serin, Robin, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Black Redstart, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Monk Parakeet, Common Starling, Kestrel and Iberian Green Woodpecker. We also saw a pheasant and several chickens!

On the drive to the next site, we saw Coot and Little Grebe on a small reservoir and then several Glossy Ibis, a Common Magpie and a Mallard flying past. As it was approaching lunchtime, we didn’t go to the Palm Farm Track, but went to a narrow road nearby, where Common Cranes have been seen. We were successful and saw two to the right of us. Whilst we were there, we also saw a Grey Heron and two Marsh Harriers. The drive to our lunch venue at Bar Restaurante Rocío, added about 150 Glossy Ibis flying over, 20 Cattle Egrets in a field and a Little Owl on a wall.

After lunch, we went to El Hondo. Barn Swallows were seen from the car park, along with a lot of Crag Martins. Away from the water, we saw Cattle Egrets, Iberian Grey Shrike, Common Starling, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier and, surprisingly, only one Glossy Ibis, which flew over us. Cetti’s Warblers were heard, but not seen. A Common Snipe was at the edge of the water, not far from the Visitor Centre. On and around the water, we saw Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Purple Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coot, Coot, Moorhen, Eurasian Teal, Pochard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Little Grebe, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Flamingo, White Wagtail and, at the end of the dayGreen Sandpiper in a water channel.

In total, counting House Sparrows and Pigeons (but not the pheasant and chickens!), we saw 66 species and heard the Cetti’s Warblers. Not a bad day!