Mary’s Blog – Salinas, El Hondo Fields, San Felipe

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We made a flying visit to Gran Alacant to attend the December field trip and AGM.

Monday 4th December – It was so nice to be in the Clot again on our first afternoon. Even seeing birds that are quite common here was exciting, given that we haven’t been in Spain since May.

Tuesday 5th December- We visited the Clot again on the field trip seeing many of the same species plus a few others. Highlights for me were the three Flamingos in the main pool which is not a usual bird in the Clot, and a Water Rail spotted by Malcolm as it crossed from one stand of reeds to another. Species list – Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Water Rail, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel.

At Carabassi beach we added Cormorant, Shag and Yellow-legged Gull.

Our next stop was at the Salinas where there were good numbers of Great White Egret on the far lagoon and someone found an Osprey sitting on a low post at the far side of the same lagoon.

At El Pinet we saw Black Redstart, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Slender-billed Gull, Greenshank, Redshank, Dunlin, and a large flock of Golden Plover on the lagoon in front of the hide. Barry managed to find me a Little Stint. After this we headed off for a slightly earlier lunch and the AGM.

Wednesday 6th December – Barry invited us to meet him at Rojales to try to find the Waxbills he has been seeing by the river here quite often. On the way to meet him I spotted the large group of Spoonbill which Barry had seen recently on the Salinas, along with the usual Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Slender-billed Gull and Flamingos.

Barry took us along the side of the Rio Segura, and a very good bird for us, seen in a tree, was a Cirl Bunting. Other species seen included; Cattle Egret, Kestrel, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Grey Heron, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Audouin’s Gull, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Iberian Grey Shrike, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Cetti’s Warbler (HO), Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Serin. The Waxbills proved elusive although I think I did catch a glimpse of a red bill at one point. Barry tells me he saw 10 of them there a few days later!

Library Photos

Thursday 7th December – This was our last day and we picked up our friend Linda and headed off across the countryside towards San Felipe. We drove past the Salinas seeing the usual suspects before making our first stop by the old monastery. There is much tree cutting and cultivation going on here. It remains to be seen whether this will prove detrimental to the birds. I spotted a couple of Iberian Green Woodpeckers flying away as a tractor went along the track and we also saw Cattle Egret, White Wagtail, Iberian Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Booted Eagle, a flock of Serin, Spotless Starling and Stonechat in this general area.

Continuing along the Palm Farm Track (PFT) we added Little Egret, Goldfinch, Hoopoe, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper, Greenfinch, Marsh Harrier and, along Green Sandpiper Alley (GSA) it was quite odd to see a Pheasant along with a Crested Lark and a Green Sandpiper of course! Tracking back along Crane Alley a small flock of Glossy Ibis flew over.

On our approach to the village of San Felipe, a flooded field held many White Wagtails, along with possible Water Pipits and Little Stints. The best bird, though, was a Lesser Yellowlegs, a lifer for us. Just two days before, however, someone on the field trip had shown us a photo of one seen in this general area a few days before. This really helped me with identification!

We arrived at San Felipe reserve and set off towards the hides spotting a Zitting Cisticola on the way. At the second hide we noted Flamingos, Shelduck, and a Snipe which landed in front of the hide. Returning to the first hide we watched a Common Sandpiper to the side of the hide and a Kingfisher was glimpsed briefly as it flew by. As we walked back towards the boardwalk we could see a couple of Bluethroats hopping about on the path ahead of us. We walked round the boardwalk seeing a couple of Red-knobbed Coot whose characteristic red ‘knobs’ were more prominent than on the birds seen at the Clot earlier in the week. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing and at least half a dozen Western Swamphens were in and around the water. Several flocks of Glossy Ibis were flying around as we continued to the picnic area to have our lunch.

On the return journey we went back through the village of San Felipe where the flooded field was still full of birds, now including a Ringed Plover. As we turned left towards the sheep sheds, I spotted a Blue Rock Thrush on top of a metal telegraph tower. Our final stop was by the Vistabella House where we enjoyed watching a Kingfisher on the wall of the water channel just through the south gate. Apologies for the terrible photos but I only had a small camera with me.