Trevor and Bryan go Birding Again – Trevor Ashley

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Fri 10 Feb:  A tour of the local area

At the Santa Pola Salinas a fly past by a Mediterranean Gull in striking summer plumage was a timely reminder that Spring is underway.  We saw a solitary Pintail along with a group of Wigeon.  Also present were a Great White Egret and Grey Plover along with the usual Sandwich Tern and Slender-billed Gull.

El Pinet produced a Blue Rock Thrush but not much else.

The waders at San Pedro were certainly more interesting.  A number of Spotted Redshanks were seen. Ruff and Common Sandpiper were added to the list to join the usual Black-tailed Godwits and Black-winged Stilts.

A White-headed Duck was present at a small nature reserve on the way to San Miguel as we headed towards the Palm Farm Road.  Here a number of raptors were up and about i.e. Marsh Harriers, Buzzards and Booted Eagles.  Alas no other harriers or eagles.

 Mon 13 Feb:  Guardarmar

We decided to explore the area along the northern bank of the Segura which neither of us had visited before. This resulted in good views of Little Bittern.  At least 2 birds were present but there may have been more. Grey Wagtails and a Kingfisher were also seen here. An obliging Mediterranean Gull and a Sandwich Tern were present near the river mouth along with a considerable number of Black-headed Gulls, many with their full black caps.  A Turnstone and a Sanderling were feeding along the edge of the beach.

 Tues 14 Feb:  Maigmo and Alcoi

We set out from Gran Alacant with the intention of showing our Dutch friend, Jeanette, both Maigmo and the vulture site at Alcoi (neither of which she had visited before). On the lower slopes of Maigmo the almond blossom in the bright sunshine reminded me why I like to come to Spain at this time of the year.  Several Woodlarks were singing amongst the trees but despite some searching they could not be located, although a single ,distant bird on a wire was seen later.  The usual species of Crested Tit and Coal Tit were soon found along with Short-toed Treecreeper. Crossbills called out, invariably flying overhead. The higher ground was somewhat devoid of birds, not helped by chain-saw work being carried out near the top. Our journey back down was interrupted by the sight of a large raptor in the sky being mobbed by a Kestrel.  A Goshawk, no less, much larger than the pair of Sparrowhawks we saw just a few minutes later.

On to Alcoi, still without it’s main bridge in use. This resulted in some ‘best guessing’ and quick decision making (and choice language!) to get across to the other side of the ravine.  Once at the vulture site there was an eerie silence. Absolutely no sign of any vultures. Have they stopped feeding them we wondered? Somewhat deflated we left the site to take a look at the gorge a short distance away in the hope that we might have more luck there. Sure enough we did get distant views of Griffin Vultures, soaring high in the sky. The anticipated Blue Rock Thrush was also found. It still seems to favour the top of the tall brick chimney.

Not the biggest species list this day but nevertheless some enjoyable birding on a brilliant sunny February day.

Species list:   Griffin Vulture, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Magpie, Spotless Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Crossbill.