Saturday, 22 November 2014

El Hondo and Santa Pola Saltpans, Alicante Province.

A morning on the reserve and a look around the Santa Pola Saltpans.

We all got up and followed Juan Perez and Beatriz to the North Gate of El Hondo reserver where we joined a rather longer line of cars than expected, Whilst we were waiting for the warden we saw Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
Once we were in we drove to the furthest point as the local Brits all raced to get into the first smaller tower so we continued on and parked near the second one. We walked to the nearby platform and scanned the pools picking up Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), lots more Kingfishers including 4 at the same time in a nearby ditch. The weather was not really in our favour for seeing the Eagles as it was overcast and misty so we decided to have a walk back through the reserve to the smaller platform, on the way we had views of Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). As we got to the platform the other birders had moved so we scanned the pools from the high point and soon added Black-necked (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis). I had a walk along the track a little further and had a single fly over Brambling (Pinzón Real / Fringilla montifringilla), even more Kingfishers, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and during the walk back we had a couple of Great White Egrets (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) and two Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) fly along the channel.
Once we were back at the cars we had a coffee and the decided that we would go out early as we had actually had better birding from the two hides near the south gate yesterday but this plan did not work as when we reached the gat we found that we were locked in so we returned along the track to a track which lead out to a boardwalk and to a view point. Along the walk we had views of Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), another Green Woodpecker and as we were walking back we had a splendid male Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) fly across the channel and disappear in to the reeds.
Once we were able to get out of the gate we made our way around to the visitors centre where Juan and Beatriz been the day before, as soon as we arrived we checked the pool at the rear where we saw a couple of collared Red-knobbed Coots (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) one of which had a strange orange coloured bill and damaged Shield. Also on the pool we had even more Kingfishers, Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). From the pool we walked out along the tracks to the hides out on the reserve but we did not see much on the water except for a fine winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis). From the back of the hide a large raptor was seen perched in a distant tree which turned out to be TONN again. We walked back to the cars, on the way we had good views of a male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus).
We decided that we would like to get a better view of the eagle so we a drive around the tracks in the general direction of where we had seen the bird. We stopped at a deadend in the road and scanned the area to find we had driven right passed the bird which few passed us a few minutes later. Whilst we were in this area we had a flyby Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and another of the omipreasent Kingfishers.
Once we found our way out of the fields we had some lunch beforedriving a slightly roundabout way out to Santa Pola saltpans on the coast, here we all got the scopes out and scanned the pools and quickly boosted the wader list with Red Knot ( Correlimos Gordo / Calidris canutus), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Black-winged Stilt, Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus). Other species seen included Slender-billed Gull (G aviota Picofina / Larus genei), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), a couple more Great White Egrets, Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), an Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) and a hundred plus Great Crested Grebes.
Later we moved back to the Southern hides where we again saw Greater Flamingo's, Avocet, Northern Shoveler, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, a very nice female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), 5x Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
Later in the day we moved back around to the towers we had been at yesterday until just on dusk where we saw Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta),  Great White Egrets, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), 3x Ruff, Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Water Rail, White Wagtail and the last new species for the two days an immature Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).
We said goodbye to Juan and Beatriz who were staying an extra day before driving back to the house, on the way it was very very windy but the journey went well and quickly.

Photographs from the top: Reedy channel at El Hondo, Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), reed beds looking south from the hide, Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), looking North from the hide, Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) and Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina).

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