December Field Trip – Santa Pola area – Malcolm Palmer

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The Costa Blanca Bird Club, or at least 18 of its members, met at Gran Alacant on a bright, still early December morning for the monthly field trip. The first venue was the reserve of the Clot de Galvany, and the party split into two, the easier to fit into hides. From the western hide, good views were obtained of an Iberian Green Woodpecker, and several Stone Curlews were seen flying around. Chiffchaffs and Linnets abounded and a Southern Grey Shrike stood sentinel nearby. Later groups glimpsed a Wryneck in the area. On the Charco de Contacto, two White-headed Ducks, two Black-necked Grebes and a Purple Swamphen were very easy to see, with Teal and Shoveler providing the supporting cast. A few Long-tailed Tits and a Great Tit were nearby, and Marsh Harriers constantly quartered the reeds.

We took the coastal route towards Santa Pola, pausing to see a Shag, a nice Audouin’s Gull and some Turnstones on the shore. So to the Salinas, where a couple of Spoonbill flew by, and a distant Knot caused telescopes to be cranked up to 60X. A Sandwich Tern fished close by, and several Slender-billed Gulls were easy to see. El Pinet was somewhat disappointing, so we moved to the famous ‘Palm Farm Track’, immediately seeing a field full of Lapwings, around 80 in all, with a supporting cast of around 50 Golden Plover. Two or three Booted Eagles drifted over, then a party of 26 Common Cranes flew by some way off.

Time for lunch, and this was taken at the Bar/Restaurante Los Manchegos, in Santa Pola, where we were treated very well. The (brief) AGM followed, efficiently engineered – as ever – by Pete, and with a fine presentation by our president Stephan, as to the parlous state of our wildlife. Brian Hunt having been forced to resign, due to ill health, Rex Walker was duly elected to the committee. A few of us then moved to the fish quay to watch the boats arrive, but the only birds of note were a distant group of Black Scoter on the calm sea.