When I leapt out of bed this morning after oversleeping, I opened the curtains to see unpromising grey skies. Nevertheless we set off to pick up Bryan and headed over to the El Hondo fields. Our first location was the palm farm road where our first bird was a good one; a male Hen Harrier, although it was moving much too fast to photograph. As we approached the bridge Bryan commented that he hadn’t seen a Kingfisher for a while, and amazingly, when we stopped on the bridge we found one sitting on the wall quite close by, before it flew away along the canal and settled further along. There was a field holding lots of Woodpigeons but little else, until we got nearly to the end of the road where another Hen Harrier came flying towards us, a great start! Turning right at the end of the road we spotted a flock of large black birds flying to our right and soon identified them as Glossy Ibis. We set off along a rough farm track to try to get nearer. As we followed the track round towards the Vistabella house we saw the Glossy Ibis at the edge of a wet field, along with many Cattle Egrets. After a while the birds took off and flew around for a while making quite an impressive sight.
We moved on towards the hide, and just before we stepped onto the boardwalk John pointed out 2 Swallows resting on a reed, our first of the year. In the hide we found Paul and Greta and a couple of cycling birders, and were later joined by a couple of Belgian cyclists. As we left a bus load of students arrived making a hell of a noise so I’m not sure they will have seen many birds! This hide is certainly becoming very popular! A Cetti’s Warbler was singing loudly from the reeds in front of the hide, and as I was saying that I never actually see this species, it gave us a quick glimpse as it flew out, across the water and into cover again. A White headed Duck was on the water along with a few of the usual Little Grebes, Black necked Grebes and Cormorants, and several Marsh Harriers could be seen hunting over the reedbeds in front and to the left of us. While we were looking at all the harriers, we noticed another couple of raptors flying above them. I watched them for quite a while but could not get a good view of the top or bottom of the wings. At last I got a view of one of them which showed a lot of white on top of the wings, and Bryan identified them as Spotted Eagles, a bird I had not expected to see today, brilliant! We had great views of them through the scope and Bryan managed to get a few photos. We set off back along the path and Bryan identified a Moustached Warbler singing, but we didn’t manage to see it. As we walked over the last bit of boardwalk we could see lots of Swallows flying along the water channel and I spotted a Kingfisher perched on a reed, our second of the day. It seemed as if all our birds were coming in twos today!
Our next location was San Felipe where we ate lunch in the picnic area while watching Coot, Red knobbed Coot, Little Grebe and Purple Swamphen on the small lake. After lunch we visited the hides seeing numerous Shovelers, Shelducks and Pochards along with 5 White headed and 6 Tufted Ducks. A Reed Bunting posed for photos in the reeds before we set off back to the car. I mentioned that we hadn’t seen a Southern Grey Shrike today and pretty soon one appeared, mentioning a bird we haven’t seen and making it suddenly appear seems to be a good trick which appears to work well sometimes! We returned the same way we had come, back along the palm farm road and turned right on to the main road heading for home. We all agreed it had been a great day, although I did say I would have liked to have seen Cranes as I needed them for my year list. No sooner had I said that than Bryan pointed out about 8 Cranes in a small field on the right hand side. What a bit of luck! I was delighted that we had seen these, plus the Glossy Ibis and the Spotted Eagles before they leave the area for the summer.
Species list – Black necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Crane, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, White headed Duck, Tufted Duck, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Spotted Eagle, Kestrel, Red legged Partridge, Coot, Moorhen, Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Green Sandpiper, Yellow legged Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Moustached Warbler (HO), Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Magpie, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting.