San Felipe, El Hondo fields and Santa Pola Salinas

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22jan-02We met up with Bryan, Dave and Linda and set off towards the San Felipe reserve. We drove up the palm farm road and John had a brief glimpse of a Kingfisher as it whizzed along a water channel but no one else managed to see it. Several Cattle Egrets were seen along this road, but the hoped for Glossy Ibises from the other day had unfortunately moved on, although a few Lapwings were still at the far end of the field and, as usual, White Wagtails, Kestrels and Southern Grey Shrikes were easy to see. At the end of this track, where it meets the Vistabella road Bryan spotted a male Blackcap in a big tree on our left. We continued towards San Felipe past a few villas where we sometimes see Little Owl and I was saying that we hadn’t seen one yet this year when one appeared!

As we arrived at San Felipe I spotted 3 Cranes flying over and pointed them out to the others. We walked round to the first hide but there were no birds, probably because the reeds were being cut with a noisy strimmer at the edge of the lake. The other lagoon was mainly popluated by Coots, with a few Little Grebe and the odd Black necked Grebe, but unusually, no ducks of any sort. We made our way back towards the visitor centre and Bryan found some Penduline Tits in the reeds, which were seen by John and Dave, but rather annoyingly Linda and I missed them. We walked round the boardwalk where Penduline Tits could be heard but not seen! It was a nice sunny day so we had our lunch at the picnic area while keeping an eye on the small lagoon there. This held more Coots, Moorhens, Chiffchaffs, a Purple Swamphen and at last some ducks, but only Mallards! We also saw two pairs of Crested Coot which I believe have been brought here from elsewhere in Spain in an attempt to create a breeding colony, but can I count them on my year list? We watched a few Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel flying around before we headed back along the lanes seeing a Green Sandpiper, a Hoopoe, a Booted Eagle and a Buzzard. In a wet field we spotted a badly injured Lapwing which was unable to fly as one of it’s wings was hanging off, suggesting that it may have been attacked by something and we didn’t give much for it’s chances of survival. A Meadow/Water Pipit was feeding nearby but we didn’t get a good look at it.

22jan-03There did not seem to be many birds around by now so we set off for home across the salinas for a bit of ‘drive by birding’. As we passed the big lay-by on our left we saw there was a Great White Egret quite close to the road so we decided to come back for another look and a possible photo opportunity. After driving nearly to Santa Pola we found a place to turn round and came back to find the bird still in good view and took a few initial photos from the car. Once we all got out of the cars the bird moved further away as you might expect. At least Bryan had at last managed to get a good shot of this species which seems to have been evading him up to now! Some small waders were sheltering at the edge of the lake and I was pleased to get the chance to take a photo of a Turnstone at close range before it moved away. We drove along the N332 and turned into another parking area from where Dave, Linda and I set off across the muddy scrub towards some Greater Flamingoes which were closer than usual, and Dave and I attempted to photogragh them. Bryan and John stayed by the car where they watched Slender billed and Audouin’s Gulls. After this we set off home having had another good day’s birding.

Species list – Little Grebe, Black necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Greater Flamingo, Grey Heron, Common Crane, Shelduck, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Coot, Crested Coot, Purple Swamphen, Moorhen, Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Turnstone, Green Sandpiper, Black tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Slender billed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Audouin’s gull, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow/Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Penduline tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Common Starling, Magpie, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting.