San Felipe, Crevillente and Elche Reservoir

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20feb-03Today eight of us from Gran Alacant joined the Costa Blanca Bird club’s February field trip. On route we ticked off Little Owl and Marsh Harrier before meeting the others at the San Felipe visitor’s centre. The group set off towards the first hide and someone spotted a bird on a fence post which initially looked like a sparrow. On closer inspection through several scopes, it was found to be a Wryneck, a good bird to start us off. We could hear Bluethroats moving around in the scrub but most of us only caught glimpses of them. Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe and Kestrels were easier to see. The lagoons were filled with Coots along with a few Little Grebe, Black necked Grebe and Shelducks. The group split up for a while, meeting up at the picnic area where we admired the recently re-introduced Red knobbed Coots on the small pool, and two Snipe were spotted on the far bank. Next we travelled up to Finca Bonelli’s Eagle in the canyon behind Crevillente. Here Colin and Jane provided tea, coffee and biscuits while we all looked at this year’s nest and searched for the Bonelli’s Eagles. While we chatted and admired the views, one of the eagles was spotted flying over the ridge and we saw it deliver a meal to the second bird whose head could now be seen in the nest.

We left here and enjoyed a nice lunch at a nearby restaurant before travelling to the Elche Reservoir. A short walk took us along the IFedge of the water where there are extensive reed beds and high rocky cliffs. The water held mainly Coots, Mallards, Little Grebe and Black necked Grebe and a Purple Swamphen was heard. The sky held hundreds of Crag Martins, some of which appeared to be sitting against the rock face. At the top of a rocky ridge someone spotted a Black Wheatear and later on a Blue Rock Thrush, both giving reasonable views through a scope. Before we left three Cattle Egrets flew into the reedbeds and apparently the area holds a roost of some 3000 of these birds, although we didn’t stay long enough to see this. A Starling roost can also be seen here when the light goes. There is a known site for Eagle Owl a short distance away, but again we didn’t wait to see this as it had been a busy day and we were ready for home. As we reached the main road our friends in the car behind attracted our attention to tell us that we had a flat rear tyre so we pulled in to deal with it. We were very grateful for the help given by our friends, including Paul who put out warning triangles and directed the traffic, Trevor who helped John change the wheel and Dave who generally supervised operations! Greta, Linda, Brenda and I ‘did our bit’ to help empty the boot and replace stuff when we were ready to go. A minor drama but speedily dealt with. We had not seen a high number of species but it had been a good day, with great company and interesting places to visit.