Pego Marsh – Malcolm Palmer

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On a day more befitting of August than October, some 17 members of the Costa Blanca Bird Club met at a traditional point on Pego marsh, immediately having our attention drawn to a Great White Egret, feeding amongst Grey Herons. We set out to walk along the stony path, and soon had a Ringed Plover as well as a Green Sandpiper. Ken spotted a late Purple Heron, and we paused for a long time to look along a muddy tract where several Bluethroat – always a feature of a visit to Pego – appeared. Goldfinch were plentiful, as were Zitting Cisticola, and a Serin joined them, then Tree Sparrow flocks flew over calling distinctively. Marsh Harriers quartered distant reeds, disturbing flocks of Mallard and Woodpigeon, and we soon started to see Booted Eagles floating over, as thermals began to take effect. After we had seen at least ten, another, longer-winged bird joined in, and gave rise to some puzzlement. I finally decided on a juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle as its likeliest identification, after consulting literature.

On the walk back, a small bird was seen perching on sedge, and feeding on seed-heads. The distinctive red line through the face made identification a simple matter – a Common Waxbill – the diminutive African finch now naturalized in much of Southern Iberia. A Kingfisher flew away as we approached the point where the whole party would again meet up to head for lunch. For this we drove up the valley, past Adsubia, to the tiny village of Forna, where the Restaurante Nautilus has treated us royally for some years. Today was no exception, and all were agreed on the excellence of our repast.


We returned, briefly, to the marsh after lunch, and were soon seeing Marsh Harriers again, as well as some very large numbers of Little and Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons. A Northern Wheatear was new, and more parties of small birds included some vocal Tree Sparrows. A Cetti’s Warbler sang from a dyke, and a Green Sandpiper was seen, as well as a couple of Jackdaws. It had been a very pleasant day, in excellent company.