it sounds as if we are all out and about this week-end; me up in Extremadura and Dave and friends further north near Elche once again visiting the El Fondo reserve. Given that I will not be back till Tuesday at the earliest I'll get Dave's report published first.
El Fondo, Elche plus extras
Saturday 18th February 2017
I realise now that this day was the 7th anniversary of my heart attack! So glad to still being around! I got picked up by Trevor & Ann at 05.15hrs in Arboleas. Sadly Phil was full of cold so was unable to come (to my advantage...see later!).
We made good time to Cox service station where we had a coffee before heading to the North Gate of El Fondo bird reserve. Antonio, the friendly ranger let us in just after 8 o'clock. We'd already seen overflying Marsh Harrier and Cattle Egret as we drove down to the elevated viewing platform at the far end. From there in front of us the expanse of reed surrounded water had Common Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, a male White Headed Duck, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot. There was also Black Necked and Little Grebe. The reeds were alive with Chiffchaff. We heard Cetti's and Reed Warblers. I had a glimpse of a short flying Purple Swamphen before it disappeared into the reeds. Similarly, I saw a Great White Egret briefly together with a Grey Heron. Numerous Marsh Harriers were seen. Scanning with my scope I found a perched Common Buzzard and a Booted Eagle. Another birder found another two in the avenue of trees behind us. On the pool behind us we had Great Crested Grebe and Shoveler. Also saw flying Lapwing, Cormorant and Shelduck.
We walked the short distance to the hide to our right. We saw more Shoveler and Red Crested Pochard. We added Little Egret.
We then drove back towards the exit gate, stopping at various hides on the way. From the elevated hide we were lucky that a local birder, Graham, was still there. He pointed out the Spotted Eagle well concealed in a distant palm tree. Would never have found it without his guidance! From there we also had views over a shallow marsh area where we could see Black Winged Stilt, Common and Spotted Redshank and more resting Shelduck. We also saw Wigeon, Black Headed and Yellow Legged Gull, Iberian Shrike and Woodpigeon. Trevor and I spotted a flying Osprey as well. Ann had bought scrumptious sausage rolls for them and Phil. They were lovely, Phil. Sorry you missed them! Our final stop was on the raised pathway over the scrubland. We added Robin, Sardinian Warbler and Meadow Pipit. Others there locked onto flashes of Bluethroat, but we didn't. Also seen were Kestrel &and Greenfinch.
Exiting this area at the prescribed time, we made our way to the Information Centre. Lots of people around including little ones. We had views of a Purple Swamphen. There was only one Red Knobbed Coot in the sheltered pool by the Centre, but did add a Water Pipit there. I found a solitary Kentish Plover. A flight of Dunlin flew by. At the first hide we added Gadwall. The second hide didn't produce the anticipated Bluethroat coming to the feeding station. There were large numbers of resting Shelduck.
We left El Fondo and stopped off at my friends house between Lorca and Puerto Lumbreres. We managed to see two or three Long Eared Owls through the trees. A Barn Swallow flew by. A bonus on the way home was a flock of about 25 Red-billed Chough in a field by the motorway at Gonar.
We had a great, but tiring day. Good weather and good company. Thank you to Trevor for driving and Ann for been the secretary and bringing the sausage rolls! With the extras we saw 53 species today. Sorry, only one photo today!
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.