Saturday 29 January 2011

Valencia Province, El Fondo in Alicante Province and Home.

The journey home and another Spanish Raptor.

View of the Reserve.
We started out after breakfast and headed the right way back, avoiding the toll motorway and Benidorm. Our first stop was at El Fondo / Hondo where several Spotted Eagles (Aguila Moteada / Aquila clanga) were wintering, two adults including Tron the radio tagged bird and at least two possible three immature birds have been seen regularly. The access to the site is very restricted so viewing from the perimeter was the only way forward. After asking for info via the Andalucian Bird Society website and drawing a blank, I was given some directions from friend Juan Perez from Granada. I stood on the raised bank with another English birder (sorry useless with names) and three Spanish chaps and scanned the reedbeds. The Spanish lads had wandered off along the road which just left the two of us, we soon started to pick up birds including Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). Then a largish dark bird came in quite low over the reeds and started to circle up and away again, the untagged adult Spotted Eagle gave us some very nice views for several minutes. 
View of the Reserve.
It then dropped from view over some large trees and was replaced by an Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus), we also added several Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and at least 5 Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) to the list. Just after the Eagle disappeared the three Spanish birders returned, they stood with us for a short while then jumped into there car and headed off. Just as they had left the adult Eagle showed very well again for another few minute before dropping away over the trees once more. Other birds seen included Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos). Very pleased with the last hours birding I left the site and we continued on towards home, driving through some salt pans on the way back to the motorway. I added Slender-billed Gull (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) from the car.

Friday 28 January 2011

Valencia City, Day Two.

Sightseeing around the City.

Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados.
Today was a general wander around the City with a mix of sightseeing and shopping. We started by going to the Mercado de Colon, an old market which had been unsympathetically done up with some not so great looking places to eat. As it was still not raining we headed down to the old river bed parks, the river was moved a few Kms down the road after some very bad floods in the 1950's and the area is now being used for walking and a great many other recreational activities. 
Lace Stalls.
We followed the parks up as far as the Torres de Serranos the Northern gateway into the City and then moved south through the winding back streets until we found our selves passing the Palau de la Generalitat and back in the Plaza de la Virgen. 
Doorway to Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas.
We went inside the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados and the Cathedral which was close by, both fantastic buildings surrounded by nice public areas.
Torres de Serranos.
Our next stop and for me the highlight of the day was the Mercado Central, what a place to do you shopping, Vegetable, Meat, Fish and many other stores selling what looked like some of the freshest and unmessed with food I had ever seen. 
Mercado Central.
The herb and spice stalls made the place smell great; it was spotless, friendly and just a great experience. Lunch was taken back at La Sardinaria; the menu del dia was very good and set us up for an afternoon in the shopping part of the City. 
Stall in the Market.
After a quick doze in the afternoon we again went out on the town till late on, eventually found a place to eat and the retired back to the room with aching feet.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Valencia City, Day One.

Jayne’s Birthday!!!!

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia building.
Plan one for today was to get lost just wandering around the City streets, but the rain was heavier that we had hoped so plan two was put into action. We caught the bus down to the Ciudad de las Artes Y las Ciencia’s which was what we had planned to do the next day. We arrived and purchased a ticket for the Science Museum and the Aquariums, the buildings in this area are very futuristic and modern looking. 
Jayne and friend.
We entered the Museum and made our way to the top floor and started to explore, we soon came across the one thing I had wanted to visit. I quickly took off my Naturalist anorak and put on the Star Trek version. The exhibition was great with loads of info and items of clothing from the many different versions of the program/ films. 
Jayne on the Enterprise bridge.
We continued to work our way around this attraction and before we knew it we had used the whole of the morning up and so we decided to head over to the Sea life Centre as we were told that this would take us a lot longer than the museum. 
Star Trek costumes.
The only faults with the Science building was a lack of signage and the only loo's being down on the ground floor by the entrance which is one hell of a trek from the third floor, but a good morning.
We started in the Oceanográfic (Sea life centre) by going through the Tropical and Mediterranean tunnels and tanks, it was fantastic with so much to look at we found we had spent another hour and a half just in this area and our stomachs were telling us it was time to find some food. 
We visited the cafe on site which was reasonable and not too expensive. On our way around the to next tunnel we called in at the bird enclosure, where there was a collection of water birds including Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), American Green-backed Heron and Rosy Spoonbill amongst others not really the way I like to see birds, but it was a fairly good for a captive collection. 
Green-backed Heron.
We then continued through the Caribbean area and then into the tunnel with all the large Sharks. We finished of by going into the Arctic and Antarctic areas; here we saw Walrus, Beluga Whales and Penguins.
Tropical Fish.
It was early evening by the time we caught the bus back to the hotel, we had 40 winks and then headed out for the night and to find some where nice for a meal. We eventually decided on a small restaurant called La Sardineria which was very popular. 
Male Walrus.
We enjoyed the meal and would fully recommend a visit, the food was good and the owners were very pleasant.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

From Loja, Granada Province to Valencia, Valencia Province.

Travelling to Valencia.

We made a fairly early start to our long journey up to Valencia, we travelled via Granada, up past Guadix, Basa and out of the Province into Murcia. The trip as far as here had been pleasent execpt for some rain and fog, we stopped for some breakfast and then pushed on to Alicante. This was where one wrong turn got us onto a pay motorway by mistake heading towards Benidorm, we decided to stay on the toll road till we cleared Benidorm and then drop on to the coast road. It was a lot slower but quite a pleasent drive.
On the way I picked up Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Western Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
I was pleased that we reached the city during the afternoon as the traffic was light and with just a single stop to ask for directions to the hotel we arrived and settled in. We later went out and had our first walk around this fine city.