Santa Pola, El Pinet and Vistabella road – By Malcolm Palmer

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Spoonbills by Bryan Thomas©
Spoonbills by Bryan Thomas©

This month we combined our December outing with the Annual General Meeting, and some 22 members met on Santa Pola salinas on a chilly morning, with good views of a big flock of Wigeon not too far away, and a lone Curlew feeding on the bank. Spoonbills were present in good numbers, but the Shelduck flocks were highly impressive, with over 200 birds in view. Two Ospreys perched on pylons in the distance. We headed for El Pinet, and the reserve, was, as ever, interesting, with some eleven Stone Curlews counted, and a Water Rail at close quarters, chasing off a Snipe! On the sea nearby was a raft of Common Scoter, doubtless driven south by the cold weather in Northern Europe.


Booted Eagle
Booted Eagle by Bryan Thomas©


On, then, to Vistabella, where raptors filled the sky – mainly Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles, with the odd Buzzard, but Mary was lucky enough to see – and photograph – a fine Red Kite while nobody else was looking! A flooded field was full of waders, with Black winged Stilt, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and Golden Plover present. The party split, to visit the two hides – those of us less able to walk long distances had to be content with a Kingfisher and a couple of Great White Egrets, whilst the more intrepid party had a huge flock of the latter, as well as many Lapwings. As we gathered to depart for lunch, a big party of Cranes appeared to the south, and we were eventually able to count 54 of these great birds before making for Santa Pola, and Tano’s for a fine lunch and our meeting. At that meeting, it was agreed that Julian Sykes should be granted honorary life membership, and his place on the committee taken by Els Feuth. It was also agreed that monies should be made available to AHSA to assist with their conservation work. Afterwards, some members went to the docks to watch the fishing boats come in, and were rewarded by more Scoters and a lot of Balearic Shearwaters. A good day!


Species List – Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black necked Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag,Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Common Scoter, Osprey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Merlin, Common Crane, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Golden Plover, Audouin’s Gull, Lesser Black backed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Black headed Gull, Slender billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich Tern, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Southern Grey Shrike, Magpie, Jackdaw, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.