Sunday 24 September 2017

El Fondo, Elche

Osprey Pandion haliaetuson pole (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Saturday 23 September

Just thinking about my visit to El Fondo next Saturday and Dave has crept in for an early visit due to re-arranged plans by his friends.  But just look at the birds seen in the report and think what it is doing to whet my appetite!

El Fondo   -   Saturday 23rd September

A short report on the hastily arranged trip to El Fondo with Barrie and John yesterday.  We met at silly o'clock at the Overa Hotel and Barrie kindly drove us.  We stopped at Cox for coffee x 2 as it was still dark outside.  As dawn was breaking we made our way to the football pitch area between the reserves North Gate and the Information Centre.  Jackdaws were still hanging around the palm trees. We saw Woodpigeon, Crested Lark and Cattle Egret and heard Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers.  I spotted a Marsh Harrier and John, a Kestrel.  A raptor flew into one of the eucalyptus trees.  The light was against us and after much discussion and John walking back to the car to get a telescope we concluded the bird to be a Booted Eagle.  Also seen were Grey Heron, Spotless Starling and Barn Swallow.  It was good to see a pair of Green Woodpeckers on the palm trees.
We drove to the North Gate.  About 5 cars were already waiting for Antonio, the ranger, to open the first gate.  He arrived shortly after we did.  Bee-eaters were seen as we waited to get through the second gate.  The vehicles in front of us stopped at the hides on the way down, so we and another couple had the far elevated hide to ourselves.  Scanning round we saw Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Green and Wood Sandpiper, Mallard and Little Grebe.  I checked the lake behind us and found an Osprey perched on a post.  Looking to the left I spotted some Shelduck and Barrie found distant Ringed Plover, Avocet and Ruff. 

Ruff  Philomachus pugnax (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
On the far reed line we also had Snipe and a Bar-tailed Godwit.  We saw Reed Warblers and I found a Moustached Warbler as well.  The first of many Glossy Ibis flew over.  I spotted the Black Swan (see previous report) flying away.  Also seen were Common Swift, Cormorant and a Little Bittern.
Walking to the next hide along, we had better views of the Osprey.  John found some Red-crested Pochard amongst the Shoveler.  Also seen were Great Crested and Black Necked Grebe.  A Yellow Legged Gull and Red Rumped Swallow flew over.
We then walked to the " wasp" hide.  I came armed with spray this time, but the nests had gone.  Lots of waders to be seen from here.  I spotted a Little Stint, but Barrie trumped me with a closer Temminck's!  As well as more Wood Sandpipers we added Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed and Kentish with Ringed Plover.  Barrie found a Western Swamphen (latest name apparently!).  We were then delighted to see the first of some half dozen Bluethroats flitting in and out of the reeds.  We also had a White Wagtail, a few Chiffchaff and a Barrie found Willow Warbler.  A birder who went to the first elevated hide said they'd seen a Black-winged Kite and a young Golden Eagle.....double drat as Dick Dastardly used to say!
Could this be a Bluethroat Luscinia svecica partaking of a bath? (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We drove up there, seeing a Kingfisher flash by on the way.  From the hide we saw another Booted Eagle plus a Black Kite and a Short-toed Eagle.  We also had Greenshank and a Black-tailed Godwit.
As it was approaching throwing out time, (11.30) we made our way to the Information Centre.  As we approached we saw what we first thought was a Short-toed Eagle hovering, but Barrie ID it as an Osprey fishing (unsuccessfully) over the shallow pools.

Osprey Pandion haliaetuson looking for breakfast (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We headed for the Information Centre pool where there were 13 Marbled Duck and about half a dozen Red -knobbed Coot, most of which were uncollared!  

Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Onto the wooden walkway, Barrie had a lifer.....A pair of Plain Tiger butterflies....look very similar to a Monarch.  The heavily reeded islands had flocks of resting Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis on them.  We added Greenfinch on the way to the other two hides where we had Common Pochard and Gadwall.  Our last bird was a Zitting Cisticola on the way back to the carpark.  Here we had to wait about 15 minutes as 2-300 motorcyclists were entering for a lunch break! In a Bird Reserve car park....seriously!

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We ended up with 69 Species. A cracking days birding in good company!  To complete our day we stopped off at the Long Eared Owl site near Lorca.  One owl was showing well!
Regards, Dave
An impressive Long-eared Owl Asio otus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

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