Santa Pola afternoon and evening trip by Els Feuth and Stephan Cramer

posted in: Field Trips | 0
Audouin's Gull by Bryan Thomas©
Audouin’s Gull by Bryan Thomas©

Fifteen members and guests found each other at the sea end of Santa Pola´s jetty, a little after 16.00 hours.

The fishermen’s boats were returning to the harbour, followed by lots of seabirds. In the wake of the ships were many Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls. A gull with white wings was identified as a Mediterranean Gull, a surprise as we had expected they were already on the move to more eastern regions. Lots of Audouin’s Gulls were following ships, but they also came to look at the birders on the jetty. Several Sandwich Terns were seen. In the harbour itself Little Terns dived in the water, amazing to see how shallow their dive was, compared with the height from which they started diving. Some Whiskered Terns were scanning the water, and of course Common Terns were seen.

Looking at the approaching fishermen’s boats we noticed some dark cross shaped birds:- shearwaters! The birds showed themselves well as they came from the wake, passed alongside the ship, and then, at a remarkably constant distance in front of the prow, they turned and flew back to the wake. The moment of turning gave us good views of their form and colour enabling them to be identified as several Mediterranean Shearwaters. Then a group of these birds was found, resting on the water. We could see them clearly. Even the darkness of the bill could be seen, a good characteristic for this species, good for differentiating them from the larger Cory’s Shearwater. We tried, but could not find this latter species. But we were very satisfied with the group of 8 swimming Mediterranean’s.

A bird swimming alongside the jetty proved to be a juvenile Shag. The pencil like bill and the obviously rising forehead made us decide against it being a Cormorant.

Turtle Dove by Bryan Thomas©
Turtle Dove by Bryan Thomas©

Then the heat drove us all to the bar at the land side of the jetty for a cool drink. Refreshed, with shiny eyes and a bushy tail, we began the next part of the trip to the little bays beneath the Santa Pola Lighthouse. We saw several sea birds we had already seen in the harbour, then five Ravens and a Kestrel were spotted. A short walk into the pine bushes gave us good views of a Spotted Flycatcher, some Great TitsCollared and Turtle Dove. A Coal Tit was heard, so were House Sparrows, and in the air Barn Swallows and Swifts.

We then retired to Tano´s Restaurant but a new, and very busy roundabout in Santa Pola unfortunately made us lose one of the cars. We were served a lot of cool liquid, and various tapas. Some of us learned a lot about mussel shells and serrano ham. Completely satisfied we left Tano´s, always a good place to rest and feed oneself, when the sunlight turned orange.

At the beginning of the road to the Lighthouse we were happy to find Ken again who we had lost in Santa Pola. After parking the cars we found ourselves a good place to observe the Red-necked Nightjar. First a BlackbirdSardinian Warbler, some Wood Pigeons, and a little chorus of three calling Little Owls entertained us. Then the show started, announced by the calling of the Nightjar. And of course Kathy started her show, waving her handkerchiefs. We were treated to two Red necked Nightjars flying in front of us, several of these enigmatic birds were discerned in the trees, sometimes for long periods, and then suddenly flying away before returning to about the same branch as before. We estimate to have seen between 2-4 individual birds. Even a group of passing cyclists did not stop the rituals.

Though today we did not see many species, it being a trip to see a special one, we were very satisfied to observe some good birds.