Saturday, November 04, 2017

πŸ“– Diary #67 ~ πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ El Marjal De Pego-Oliva

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ  ⛈  23C Saturday 4th November 2017 ~ Another ten-day jaunt to Spain beginning in the port city of DΓ©nia on the Mediterranean coast of eastern Spain. Then down to Torrevieja on Sunday to visit relatives, followed on Tuesday by a drive down to Mijas, near Malaga to visit my buddy, Dave.

Today: El Marjal De Pego-Oliva ~ Another of Valencia's coastal marshes and one of the best of its wetland sites. The marshes occupy a substantial area, once a lagoon but now chiefly a large expanse of reedbed providing a rich habitat for many species. The site is very good for passage and wintering species, both Bluethroat and Penduline Tits regularly winter here! In addition to these, there was another species on today's target list and we couldn't have made a better start! A Moustached Warbler, a resident here, was literally our first bird of the day skulking low in the reeds just above the waterline along one of the many ditches. Sadly, despite the patience of a saint, which is unusual for me, it never quite offered itself up for a snapshot, so we reluctantly moved on!

One of Several Booted Eagle today!
Two Marsh Harriers next above the rice fields and then the first of several Booted Eagles, which drifted nonchalantly over. Unfortunately in this area, between October and February hunters do cause some disturbance and during one burst of shots around 100 or so Glossy Ibis rose, this along with Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and three Great Egrets, producing an amazing aerial spectacle. While searching the many channels which crisscross this area a commotion overhead was the result of a passing Osprey, which was flying alongside a Common Buzzard and a 'dark phase' Booted Eagle!

This lovely male Black Redstart displaying his wonderful red tail!
The reedbeds yielded plenty with a flyby Night HeronWater Rail heard and Sardinian WarblerCetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler and a few Chiffchaff, plus the odd Common Waxbill. Stonechats and Black Redstarts were reasonably common and the odd Blackcap would make an appearance, still singing well, even at this time of year. Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler) thankfully have quietened down from thier constant 'zitting' overhead but can still be found. With no sign, it's perhaps a little early for the Penduline Tits and Bluethroat! Other absentee's included hirundines and Swifts, with not a single one today, presumably already gone through.

Cattle Egret
We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the Riu 'River' Salinar before heading off a little further north to La Albufera. Lying 10km to the south of Valencia, this vast lagoon is one the largest remaining wetland areas in Spain. **A note to anyone visiting and strangely not mentioned in 'Where To Watch Birds in Northern and Eastern Spain by Michael Rebane and Ernest Garcia is the fact that the Visitor Centre, Trails, Observation Tower and Hides surprisingly close daily at 2pm at this time of year!! We arrived shortly after to find the gates locked!

Sandwich Terns 'All Year Round' at La Albufera
Notwithstanding and despite our frustrations (politely put!) Dee and I still managed an enjoyable few hours finding our own trails and stopping points! I'm afraid though that a more comprehensive visit will have to wait for another time. That said our sightings today did include Sandwich Tern, Black-necked Grebe, Marbled Duck and Water Pipit.