My Patch -Alicante University – Malcolm Palmer

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Those of you who are familiar with my various ‘hobby-horses’ will know that I frequently extol the virtues of having a regular small area – a ‘patch’ to watch and record. Mine happens to be the garden area around the cooling ponds on Alicante University’s campus. Pretty useless on normal, ‘study’ days, as it is a haunt of so many students, doing their thing, be it studying, training or maybe snogging! So I tend to go on a Saturday morning, early, when I share the place with a few birds. Finding my very first Wren there the other day led me to make a list of species I have recorded on or above this tiny ‘patch.’ So far 68 is my total, and that includes a few surprises: Rufous Bush Robin once showed up, as did a stray Icterine Warbler. Most migration seasons realize a few good passage birds, with warblers including Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Orphean Warblers. Pied Flycatcher and particularly Spotted Flycatchers are regular, and I usually find a Common Redstart at some point. Some of the pines are rather dense, and small birds can be frustratingly difficult to see, but the breeding Crossbills are noisily in evidence. Larger birds are scarce, but a Great Spotted Cuckoo once showed up, and a Sparrowhawk whizzed by early this year. Many hirundines feed over the water, and there often seems to be a preponderance of Red-rumped Swallows, but aquatic birds are usually restricted to Mallard and a variety of grotesque hybrids. (I once had the pleasure of the company of a fine drake Wigeon for the whole spring) The Uni authorities fight a constant battle against invasive Florida Galapagos, which often reach plague proportions.