Saturday 26 May 2018

El Fondo, Elche with the Arboleas Birding Group

Saturday 26 May

I see my friend Dave has once again travelled north to visit the El Fondo reserve near Elche.  As always plenty f good birds to be seen and just a shame that I live so far away; even Dave and friends have a long journey to arrive on time for the early, controlled, admission.  And look at the great birds seen; possible Greater Bittern, Marbled Duck, Savi's and Great Reed Warbler, Roller, Bee-eater, etc.

El Fondo, Elche   -   Saturday 26th May

Another very early start to get to El Fondo, near Elche in time for the opening of the North Gate at the bird reserve.
Gilly & I picked up Paul and Reyna and drove to the Cox service station cafe where we met up with John, Barrie, Trevor, Ann, Phil and Jen.  After a cup of coffee we headed to the football pitch area for a quick bird before opening time.  Gilly spotted a Pallid Swift.  A number of paired up Jackdaws were perched on buildings or dead palm trunks.  A Roller showed well.  We had fly overs by Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Grey Heron, Kestrel and Cattle Egret.  We saw a distant Iberian Grey Shrike and heard Zitting Cisticola, Great Reed and Sardinian Warbler.  Barrie and Gilly spotted an Alpine Swift amongst some Common Swifts.  A Crested Lark was seen as we made our way to the gate having already notched up 20 species in about 20 minutes!
Roller Coracias garrulus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Gordon, a local birder, was already there and kindly pointed out some Tree Sparrows on the pump house.  Barrie did well to hear a Savi's Warbler and someone else heard an Iberian Green Woodpecker.  We also saw Little Egret, Night Heron and Black-winged Stilt before Michael, today's ranger, let us in.  We drove slowly down to the far, elevated platform.  Paul spotted a Common Buzzard.  On the way we heard Reed and Cetti's Warbler.  Barrie and John had a possible Bittern flying over the reeds.  Once up on the platform a scan of the water to our front revealed Great Crested and Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Common Pochard, Black-winged Stilt, Greater Flamingo and Avocet.  Short flights of Little Bitterns was numerous.  Barrie was first to spot a Purple Heron. Squacco Herons were commoner.  A family of Red-rumped Swallows were near the little building. We saw Whiskered, Gull Billed Terns and I spotted a possible Little Tern. 
Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo daurica (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
John found some Shelduck.  The occasional Glossy Ibis flew past.  Gilly, Paul, Reyna and I went to the smaller second hide where we added Shoveler and Black-necked Grebe.  The others followed us in shifts due to the size of the hide.  We briefly returned to the elevated platform and saw a Hoopoe.  Trevor and Phil spotted a Squacco Heron perched on reeds beyond the small canal.  It posed beautifully. 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Some of us then walked, others drove to the next hide.  An Osprey flew past.  Walking further along we saw both Bee-eater and Goldfinch.  Gilly spotted a Serin.  John had an Audouin's Gull.  From the final elevated platform, where space is at a premium, Barrie who had the scope found a small group of waders...Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Kentishand  Ringed Plover.  A male Marsh Harrier was seen followed shortly after by a female.  Barrie and John spotted a Booted Eagle.  We also found a Spotted Flycatcher at the top of a dead leafless tree.
We then convoyed to the information centre.  Paul saw a White Wagtail.   Gilly found two Glossy Ibis in the shallow pool  adjacent to the car park plus a Marbled Duck as well.  Numerous Great Reed Warblers were seen.  In the enclosed pool by the centre were three Red-knobbed Coot and some eclipsed Mallard.  Barrie spotted some Red-crested Pochard sleeping along the reed edge.  Moving on to the raised wooden walkway we checked for the recently sighted female Goldeneye to no avail, but did see more Marbled Duck and a couple of Collared Pratincole.  A Slender-billed Gull flew close by. The further hides only produced more Coot, Mallard and Shelduck plus a confirmed Little Tern. Avocets with fluffy chicks was the highlight.  As we left the Information centre, our final tick was a Woodchat Shrike in a power line.
We had a lovely day. Ended up with a very respectable 71 species. Good company as well.
Regards, Dave
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