Santa Pola Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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As has become the custom, the Costa Blanca Bird Club held its June meeting in the form of an afternoon/evening foray. Eighteen members assembled at the ternery of El Pinet in mid – afternoon, where good views were to be had of the three commonest species, Common, Sandwich and Little Terns, as well as the plentiful Slender-billed Gulls, resplendent in their pink-tinged breeding dress. A nice pair of Black-tailed Godwits, in breeding plumage, and a Kentish Plover were seen, and some members got a glimpse of a Collared Pratincole. Avocets and Flamingos were also stood around.

The party moved on to the ‘Old Monastery’ – where the undoubted attraction was the presence of Rollers – in some numbers! At least six of the handsome birds were seen, including one which was nesting in the crumbling masonry, and carrying a small snake to its offspring as the party watched. Brief views of a Bee Eater were all that we had, and a Night Heron flew over. A Little Owl was found, then an Iberian Grey Shrike and a party of Red-legged Partridge, several Stone Curlews were also seen as we made our way to Santa Pola for tapas at the bar los Manchegos, where they did us proud.

And so we headed for the euphemistically-named Sierra de Santa Pola for what was supposed to be the main business of the evening – to see Red-necked Nightjar. Kathy, as per normal, was equipped with white handkerchiefs, which, upon being waved, theoretically attract nightjars, which mistake them for their favourite food – night-flying moths. Well, unlike previous occasions – and legend – said Nightjars were not to be duped, and although we had been informed that both the Red-necked and European species were present, we were only able to see one of the former before the pestilential mosquitoes brought about an early halt to the activities.

There will be no further field trips now until September – as quite a few people head north for a couple of months at this season – but keep an eye on the website for future activities.