Santa Pola to San Felipe

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26/5/22 – this was our only proper birding day so we followed a well known route covered many times before. On the way to the salinas I saw an Iberian Grey Shrike and plenty of Yellow-legged Gulls. The salinas held the usual large number of Greater Flamingo along with Slender-billed Gulls and Little Terns. A distant Yellow Wagtail was perched on a bush on the other side of the lagoon. As we drove to El Pinet we passed a male Marsh Harrier hunting over the water.

At El Pinet I was delighted to spot several Collared Pratincole flying around. Another target bird on the list. There were plenty of Avocet and Black-winged Stilts, a Shelduck, Common Tern and loads of Slender-billed Gulls on the second lagoon. A Red-rumped Swallow flew over.

Next we drove up the pallet road which was quite quiet apart from a Serin singing in the woods, a Kestrel and 3 Turtle Doves .

Moving on to the monastery, as we turned right onto the track we flushed a Roller from somewhere on the ground nearby. What luck! The bird flew up onto a wire in front of us and posed nicely for photos! John then spotted a Little Owl in a pylon over the road and an Iberian Green Woodpecker was lower down on the same pylon. We watched the Roller and Little Owl for a while before heading down the track and turning left in search of our next target bird.

From this track we saw our first Hoopoe of the trip, two of them in fact, perched on a wire, closely followed by a couple of the sought after Bee-eaters. A little way ahead I spotted a different bird which we were delighted to discover was a Common Cuckoo! We also found our first Woodchat Shrike of the trip, hiding amongst the Collared Doves. A Red-legged Partridge in a tree was an odd sight.

We left the area and drove along the Vistabella road where Cattle Egrets and a Glossy Ibis flew overhead. We followed the road towards the sheep sheds passing a small group of Glossy Ibis on a field. We got a quick look at them on the ground before they took off. Several Little Owls were seen in this area, perched on walls and pillars along the road.

We continued to San Felipe for a coffee stop in the village. Then it was on to the reserve. It was good to see the road has finally been improved to a proper road surface rather than the rocky track it used to be!

On arrival at the car park we first saw several Glossy Ibis and Little Egrets feeding around the first lagoon. There was not a lot on the picnic area lake due to the green algae there. We walked around the boardwalk where we found a couple of Western Swamphens on our right and a lovely Squacco Heron feeding near the viewing area. A couple of Marbled Ducks were on the lagoon with Red-knobbed Coots (one with a necklace and one without). A Gull-billed Tern flew around. Several Great Reed Warblers were heard and one was seen at the bottom of some grasses. A Grey Heron flew over the lagoon and plenty of Swifts were in the air.

Another enjoyable and successful day.

Species list – Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Shelduck, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Kestrel, Red-legged partridge, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Western Swamphen, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Common Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Little Owl, Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Great Reed Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin.