Santa Pola Field Trip – Malcolm Palmer

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On a grey, wintry morning, 13 hardy souls met at Gran Alacant for the Costa Blanca Bird Club’s December field trip, which was to incorporate the club’s AGM. (2 more joined the group later).

The group made its way to the side entrance of the Clot de Galvany, where they split into two to facilitate visits to the various hides now available there. As expected at this season, a good variety of wildfowl was present, though nothing out of the ordinary. Shoveler and Pochard probably predominated, but Teal and Mallard were also present, as was a small number of White-headed Duck, which have bred there this year, and Marbled Duck, which have also enjoyed some success, assisted by introductions. Western Swamphen paddled around in the shallows, and Common Snipe were huddled down there too. Three Kingfishers were counted from the various hides. A family party of Red-legged Partridge crossed the path, and a Booted Eagle flew over. Feeding over the water was a large number of Crag Martins, and closer study revealed the presence of several late House Martins – which may well overwinter there.

The next port-of-call was the lay-by on the N332, halfway across Santa Pola Salinas: A group of more than 30 Spoonbill was present, and gave great views as they moved to a different feeding area. A male Marsh Harrier passed close by, and the group found a Water Pipit as well as several Great white Egrets and a Grey Plover. Slender-billed Gulls fed in their individual, plunging fashion.

Moving on to El Pinet luck was with the party, as there were more than 150 Golden Plover – often a difficult bird to find in the area. Two Curlew Sandpipers were later than is usual – most of their kind having fled to Africa by December.

It was time for lunch, and where better than the Club’s traditional ‘watering hole’ – Tano’s, on Gran Playa, where an excellent meal was provided. Then the AGM was conducted, with David Roe remaining as President, Len Williamson as Secretary, and Greta Owen as Treasurer. Mary Brazier (who is in England) has agreed to continue her good work on the website. Stephan Cramer (once President) resigned from the committee and Kathy Dowsett was elected in his place.