Mar Menor Firld Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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It didn’t feel remotely like January when some 24 members of the Costa Blanca Bird Club met near the entrance to San Pedro del Pinatar’s saltworks. A stroll to the beach was all it took to reveal a nice pinkish-breasted Southern Grey Shrike, as well as Linnets, a Meadow Pipit and several Stonechats, whilst two Spoonbill were seen on the nearby lagoon.

We headed for the visitor centre, and what turned out to be no more than a Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit gave rise to some identification problems. Bluethroats darted in and out of streamside foliage, as did a couple of Chiffchaffs.

The next phase of the morning’s activities resulted in a setback. Ex-president David Roe had researched the lagoons of Lo Monte, finding a pair of Ferruginous Duck there, but when we attempted a visit, we were repelled by a coachload of schoolkids. Such are the problems of organising a field trip!

Nothing daunted, and with the capable Jeannet now in the lead, we took the long drive down to the Cabo de Palos. There a couple of Gannets flew past and several Audouin’s Gulls fed close to the shore. We next visited the nearby Salinas, where distant views of Stone Curlews and Golden Plovers were our reward.

Northward along the shore of the Mar Menor, we paused where we had a good view of some shallow pools. Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin and Grey Plover fed, whilst a statuesque Grey Heron surveyed the scene. Further out on the water, a Great White Egret paddled, and a Shag was swimming, and diving repeatedly.

Little Stint by Geoff Culliford©

Lunch was the next item on the agenda, and this was taken, to unanimous approval, at the splendid ‘RufMari’ restaurant in Los Urrutias.

Some of us then had to make the long drive home, but Barry found time for a stop further north along the shore, where his small group had the good fortune to see three Whimbrel, a Kingfisher and Black-necked Grebe, as well as an unusual group of no less than nine Marsh Harriers flying low over the water as they went to roost.