Mary’s Blog – El Hondo fields, San Felipe, El Pinet

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Today was one of those days when everything went right! We set off across the fields stopping firstly at the pallet road where nothing much stirred. Next on the road to the old monastery a Little Owl was on it’s usual post, which I thought was a good sign for the rest of the day, as it hasn’t always been there in our last view visits. At the monastery the Blue Rock Thrush was absent. The area has recently been planted right up to the edge of the monastery and we think the disturbance might have upset the bird, or maybe it was just hiding.

We continued down the track at the side of the monastery and turned left at the crossroads. Driving along here we were on the lookout for a special bird. About half way along we heard it’s raucous call before it flew over the track and landed in a tree to our left. It was our target bird for the day, a Great Spotted Cuckoo! We watched it for a quite a while before it flew away. We followed our usual route along the PFT before stopping at the Santa Agueda platforms. Here there were several Swallows in the air with the Crag Martins and at the pool we flushed a couple of Green Sandpipers. There were lots of White Wagtails flitting around the area and a small group of Glossy Ibis flew over.

After our coffee stop in San Felipe we continued to the reserve where large numbers of Glossy Ibis were feeding in the first lagoon. We did a circuit of the board walk passing Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Coot and Red-knobbed Coot before visiting the two hides. At the second hide there was a Little Ringed Plover, just below the window and several Flamingo were on the lagoon. A Marsh Harrier flew over several times. As we walked back to the visitor centre the we noticed that the field on our left must have held over thirty White Wagtail.

At the picnic area we noted a Western Swamphen running along the far bank and a pair of Red-crested Pochard were on the water. After lunch we went to have a look over the hedge to look at the water margins where several Snipe have been seen on previous visits. We spotted a few on the ground before about ten of them lifted off and flew away. Whilst watching a Snipe which was still on the ground, I was delighted to see a Bluethroat moving about. I was afraid they might have already left for their breeding grounds. It was great to see a summer visitor (the Great Spotted Cuckoo) and a winter bird (the Bluethroat) on the same day.

We set off back towards Gran Alacant, stopping for a look at El Pinet. A few Black-tailed Godwit were still around with the Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. As I made a scan around I spotted a Stone Curlew sitting on top of some vegetation in the distance. Another bird I have been trying to find. I left John to look after the car while I walked to the second hide. This was a lot longer walk than I remembered, and not easy walking on the sandy path and broken boardwalk planks. I made it, however and was able to see the Golden Plovers on the island, still in good numbers. In addition there were a coupled of Sanderling on another island and my target bird for here, a Curlew Sandpiper was wading in the shallows near to the hide! While I was away John was watching a Spotted Redshank which I missed unfortunately. So, apart from everything else that was four new, and excellent species for my list. A good day indeed.

Golden Plover by Mary Brazier©

Species list – Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Shelduck, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Western Swamphen, Moorhen, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, Snipe, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler (HO), Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Magpie, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch.