Mar Menor Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club held its January meeting, as is its usual custom, in the Mar Menor region, guided by Kathy and Rob Dowsett. Starting near the Salt Works entrance, a Greenshank was soon found, then near the beach Crested Larks and an Iberian Grey Shrike were added. Some twenty members then moved inland to the vicinity of the Visitor Centre, which is in the process of refurbishment. The canal there proved fruitful, yielding a Kingfisher, a Snipe and a Spotted Redshank, then, across the road a solitary Black-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper. Some of us had brief views of a Zitting Cisticola.

Our next stop was El Mojón, where many Sanderling ran along the beach. Monk Parakeets flew past, but all eyes were on the sea, and were rewarded by a pair of Shag, then fine views of an adult Gannet, plunging into the choppy sea.

We moved on then southwards past Las Alcázares, to the plains of Las Urrútias. On the sea, there was little, but we saw several Mediterranean Gulls, then, on a sandy spit, we found firstly a Grey Plover, then a Bar-tailed Godwit – an unusual bird in our area.

Inland then, and a couple of female Marsh Harriers were seen quartering the reeds in the stiff, cold wind. We decided to take a look at the Yacht Club, and were at first disappointed, seeing only the customary Greenshank and a couple of Great White Egrets. But then a couple of Sandwich Terns flew past, and a lovely Kingfisher gave us excellent views as it ‘posed’ several times. A Black-necked Grebe was swimming nearby, but there was little else to detain us.

It was time for lunch, and we repaired to the Restaurante Campo Amor, Los Belones, for a pleasant, sociable meal.

After lunch, some of us had to return to the north of the Costa Blanca, but those who remained visited the Salinas of Cabo de Gata. They were indeed well rewarded, as, whilst watching the gulls and other common birds, a Grey Phalarope flew in and alighted on a pool nearby. This rare wader was a fine addition to what had been an excellent day.

Species List – Black-necked Grebe, Northern Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Sanderling, Turnstone, Spotted Redshank, Grey Phalarope, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Monk Parakeet.