Pego Marsh by Stephan and Els

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Pego Marsh by Greta Owen©

Seventeen members met with an unexpected view: a totally dry area where usually there are wide stretches of water. Many of us feared a day with few birds, but all were determined to make the best of it.

The first birds were seen even before the arrival of the leaders: Peregrine Falcon, flying and resting, Cormorants, the first of many, Marsh Harriers, Greenfinch, and an evasive Water Pipit, (a species that was later seen with different shades of pink on the breast). The list of herons started rapidly: Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, later followed by Great White Egrets, and the best of all, which was seen by only a happy few, Purple Heron.

Walking the surprisingly dry road, we saw many White Wagtails in the fields. Nobody tried to count them but there must have been hundreds, with only one Yellow Wagtail. Zitting Cisticola and Cetti’s Warbler were heard, and a Kingfisher could not decide the which branch to sit upon. Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper frequented the mud of the almost dry canals. Redshank and Spotted Redshank came from between the reeds and were never seen again. The varying plumages of Cormorant and Yellow legged Gull gave plenty of opportunity for discussion. Some Mallards flew by. We then studied the flocks of Barn Swallows. Looking more closely among them, we discovered House Martin, Crag Martin, the very rapid Pallid Swifts, and quite a few Red rumped Swallow. We were then distracted by the raptors: Booted Eagles, Marsh Harriers, a dark Buzzard, and one of the surprisingly few Kestrels.

The canals took a lot of time to scan, but they gave some distant but good views of Common Snipe, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, and Common Sandpiper. Apart from the waders we also found here many Chiffchaffs, and a Bluethroat.

At the river, we took the track nearest the river instead of the usual main track. Hoopoe flew by, one Little Grebe called out, then a sound that most of our birders didn’t hear, Savi’s Warbler. However, after listening to the call on a smartphone bird app, we were not totally convinced of the identification. A Little Bittern was seen by a few lucky ones.

The group then divided, some went back by the now well known path and saw Jackdaw, the others made a little detour and then followed the other sides of the rectangle. They added Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Linnet, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Serin to the list.

We then went off to the Nautilus for a very good lunch.

The remaining part of the day was spent again at the Pego Marsh, now at the other side of the CV678 road. This seemed at first to be a waste of time, but in the end proved to be quite good. A rather high flying raptor was identified as a Short toed Eagle, and was soon followed by a second one, plus a Kestrel, an Alpine Swift, and a Pallid Swift. The usually great flooded fields had been drained, but fortunately the canals contained some water, and some good waders: the omnipresent Little Ringed Plovers, but also a solitary Wood Sandpiper. And an out of place Meadow Pipit. The ploughed area was a good place for Reed Bunting, and later on for the last new birds of the excursion: a group of twelve Audouin’s Gulls.