Monday 8 May 2017

El Fondo with Dave Elliott-Binns

Saturday 6 May

It appears that what I thought was an early start was, compared with Dave, a very late start.  And just read about some of th e great birds seen by Dave.

Roller Coracias garrulus  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
El Fondo Bird Reserve   -   Saturday 6th May

Gilly was working all morning so I took the opportunity to sneak over to El Fondo Bird Reserve near Elche.  I left home at 05.30hrs and stopped briefly at Cox Service Station, not having coffee, and headed to the North Gate.  I arrived about 45 minutes before opening time so it gave me plenty of time to have my thermos coffee and do some birdwatching.  By the time the ranger arrived to open up at 08.15ish, I'd seen Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Hoopoe, Jackdaw, Cattle Egret, Black Headed Gull, Common Swift, Mallard, Stonechat and Sand Martin. I heard Stone Curlew and Green Woodpecker. I heard then found an European Cuckoo on a distant leafless tree.  But the star bird was a Roller perched in a dead tree just next to the truck!  After being let in, I drove slowly down to the bottom raised viewing platform, seeing Kestrel, Night Heron and Moorhen.  I heard both Cetti's and Reed Warbler.  I parked up and began to walk to the platform.  Great Reed Warblers were destroying the silence!  I saw one disappearing into the reeds.  From my elevated position I checked out the northerly pool ( away from the sun!).  Wildfowl included Common and Red-crested Pochard, White Headed Duck and Mallard.  There were both Little and Whiskered Tern and both Little and Great Crested Grebe.  Also seen were Greater Flamingo, Black Winged Stilt, Little Egret, Coot and Grey Heron.  I found a single Glossy Ibis on the far reed line, closely followed by a Purple Swamphen. Little Bitterns, Squacco and Purple Herons were doing flights between and into the reedbeds.  A Great Reed Warbler showed very well atop of a reed just nearby.  A squadron of 8 Turtle Doves flew by.  A Common Sandpiper landed on the raised wooden walkway rail just below me.  A Yellow Legged Gull flew by.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

I moved to the small hide a bit further along. A lot less activity here. I only added an overflying Avocet, but saw Little Bittern, Great Crested Grebe and Purple Swamphen.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)

I returned to the elevated platform, where some birders without a scope were trying to ID some distant raptors.  They were 3 Booted Eagles.  A low flying microlight put the Greater Flamingos to flight.  A magnificent sight.

Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I made my way back towards the exit, stopping at each viewing point on the way.  At the first I added Black Necked Grebe, and the second Shelduck.  At the small raised platform I was amazed to see an escapee...a Black Swan!  I also found Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Black Tailed Godwit.  At the final platform along the raised wooden walkway over the dry shrubs, some kindly birders pointed out a distant perched Short-toed Eagle for me.  I also saw an Iberian Grey Shrike.  Time was getting on, so I made my way to the exit and got released by the ranger at 11.15hrs.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
I drove to the Information Centre adding a Barn Swallow on the way.  I parked up and made my way to the picnic table area overlooking the secluded pool behind the Centre building.  Great Reed Warblers were making one hell of a racket.  Two Yellow Wagtails flew off.  In the pool were 22 Marbled Duck.  Brian and Mary popped in here earlier in the week.  They sent me a photo of a ringed Marbled Duck.  By the power of the internet I sent the details to the relevant authority.  They replied reasonably quickly to say that bird, together with 47 others, was released at El Fondo in mid-April. Also in that area were a Squacco Heron, Red Knobbed and Common Coot.  There was another Glossy Ibis in the main pool.  As I turned the bend in the raised walkway I disturbed a pair of Purple Swamphen possibly beginning to nest about 4 metres from the track.  Not the most private site!  I saw a Woodchat Shrike.  At the first hide to the left there were two more Marbled Duck (now seen 50% of the releasees!)  Over the reeds on the far side about 15 Collared Pratincoles with many Common Swifts were hawking for flying food.  At the second hide to the right I was lucky enough to have a pair of Ringed Plover and a pair of Curlew Sandpiper feeding just below me.  On the island there were nesting Avocet, Black Winged Stilt and Little Tern.  Walking back towards the truck I saw Sardinian Warbler and Zitting Cisticola to complete my list for the day.

Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
This report is only a short summary of the nearly constant bird activity, especially from the Little Bitterns, Squacco Herons and Great Reed Warblers.   I ended up with 59 species (not including the Black Swan!).
Regards, Dave

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Black Swan Cygnus atratus  (PHOTO: Dave Elliott-Binns)
Great report dave and lot of lovely birds - more than can be said about our visit to the Sierra Loja this morning where the expected birds were somwhat  of a rarity.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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