Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spain, Torrevieja

Temp - 31C - Clear - Wind S @ 3 mph

Greeting from Spain and a quick update on how the current trip is progressing. We arrived after our crack of dawn flight to Alicante on Friday 13th, not being a superstitious chap it was no surprise we got here safe and sound and without mishap.

However, only hours after arriving I went down with a heavy cold and along with temperatures in the 30C's our birding has been limited thus far. Nevertheless, we've managed a few hours out and about at La Mata Natural Park Lagoons just on the outskirts of Torrevieja and today a mid morning trip to El Hondo, around a 30 minute car journey.

Red-rumped Swallow at La Mata
First birds of note at La Mata were a couple of Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe and a hand full of Crested Lark. By the time we reached the hide, around a 20 minute walk from the nature centre, the heat haze was unbearable, making recognition by scope quite a challenge. Sadly, the birds are a good way off from the hide at present but we did manage several Kentish Plover, Little-ringed Plover, a couple of Grey Plover and a decent number of Sanderling and Dunlin along the shoreline. Some large flocks of Spotless Starling were also feeding and Gulls included Yellow-legged and Mediterranean. On route back to the car park at least 3 Swallowtail butterfly were on the wing and a short drive around the reserve produced at least 15 Red-rumped Swallow.

Greater Flamingo on the Lagunas
Today we took the 30 minute drive out to El Hondo reserve before the temperatures rose. Turning into the driveway at least a half dozen Bee-eater were perched on one of several dead trees. On the recently ploughed field a lone Cattle Egret, a few White Wagtail and overhead the odd Zitting Cisticola! No surprise to find the nature centre closed after parking up and so we decided on a short visit to a couple of hides. Here the sun was in a direct line and so scoping was difficult once more, the lack of muddy areas was also a definite minus. Most of the wildfowl were a good distance away but Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe and  Green Sandpiper were all noted. At least four Marsh Harrier, a fly over of eight Glossy Ibis, two Kestrel, Little Egret and Cattle Egret were the other highlights.

Juvenile/1st winter Slender-billed Gull
Finally, feeling like crap once more we took a stop on route home to check out the large numbers of Greater Flamingo on the local mudflats. Lots to see here with Slender-billed Gull,  Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Little Tern, plus Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Avocet and the surprise of the day, 2 Caspian Terns fishing over the open water.

Tomorrow we drive further south to Mijas, just south of Malaga and a week with my old mate Dave and hopefully I can throw this damn cold!