On a grey, somewhat chilly November morning, it was gratifying to see a big turnout for the Costa Blanca Bird Club’s monthly field trip, when we met on the Salinas de Santa Pola – some 27 people being present. We immediately found a party of 24 Spoonbills reasonably close by, and, as usual, there were plenty of Great Crested Grebes and the odd Sandwich Tern flying past, as well as some nice Slender-billed Gulls feeding. Some members spotted a lone Curlew before we moved off to El Pinet to leave some of our many cars behind. Once there, we enjoyed watching Sanderlings scurrying along the beach, and a couple of young Gannets were quite close in, surprising some people by their size.
We drove off to the Vistabella fields, and were treated to brief view of a Booted Eagle as soon as we arrived, then a Kingfisher flashed away down a ditch. But cars behind us had stopped, as Stephan spotted no less than a Harris Hawk perched on top of the big greenhouse of the Palm Farm. An American species frequently used for the questionable (in my view) practice of falconry, this handsome bird is not all that unusual as an ‘escape.’
We continued, seeing several Green Sandpipers rise from the dyke, then headed for the Hondo Visitor Centre at San Felipe, seeing a lone Buzzard en route.
Once at the Centre, a particularly well-behaved party of young schoolkids did nothing to disturb the few birds present, but we managed to get good views of Purple Swamp-hen, and there were always Marsh Harriers overflying the reeds. Several Southern Grey Shrikes were seen, as were at least three Bluethroat and a few Chiffchaffs. Small parties of Glossy Ibis flew over.
We made for the Embalse de Pedrera, where Lesser Black-backed Gulls were the only species of interest, then enjoyed a quite splendid lunch at the Restaurante Andreu, in Torremendo. The afternoon was a bit of a flop, as our ‘stake-out’ for raptors came to nought, but we found a couple of Dartford Warblers, and the more energetic members took a woodland walk. It had been a most enjoyable day.