Friend David Elliott-Binns never one to miss a unique opportunity so yesterday saw him starting his birding year with a great visit to the El Fondo reserve near Elche after delivering friends back to Alicante airport; an even a Long-eared Owl on the way home! Some very good birds here to whet the appetite so now look forward to more of his exploits with the Arboleas Birding Group.
|Shoveler Anas clypeata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
Saturday 4th January
As I said in my last report, I had to take Paul, Reyna and their friend, Colin, back to Alicante Airport at some point. Today was the day! Having dropped them off I headed towards the Information Centre. On the way I saw that the Little Owl was perched on the same building. Along the road I added White Wagtail, Magpie, House Sparrow and Black Redstart.
I parked up and immediately saw the first of many Chiffchaff. I heard a Sardinian Warbler. I scanned the shallow waters opposite the car park. As well as Snipe, Moorhen, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Shoveler and Teal, there were 4 Purple Swamphen. A Bluethroat flew from there to the hedge behind me. Another was feeding in the low vegetation. A pair of Black-winged Stilt flew in. Also seen were Collared Dove and Blackbird.
I headed to the viewing area overlooking the enclosed pool by the Information Centre building. As before there were loads of Moorhen and Mallard. A Marbled Duck flew off. There were two Red-knobbed Coot.
I began to walk along the raised wooden walkway. I had not gone more than 10 metres when I checked what was on the water to the left. There was a small raft of 8 Marbled Duck as well as Coot, Mallard, Shoveler and some Little Grebe. I just managed to glimpse a passing Kingfisher. I heard a Cetti's Warbler, but did see the Stonechat. I carried on the raised viewing platform. A Barn Swallow flew by. At the end of the walkway is a bare tree we affectionately call Gilly's Wryneck tree as she spotted one on there many moons ago. You can guess what's coming next......Yes, a Wryneck was sitting there!
I made my way to the first hide. At first I thought there was nothing to see, but I did manage to add Black-necked Grebe and a distant Marsh Harrier. The last hide was a blow out. Only Coot and Black -necked Grebe.
As I walked back towards the previous hide I saw a Bluethroat fly over the fence and apparently land in front. Hoping for photo opportunity I returned to the hide. It wasn't there, but a Chiffchaff posed well. On the way back to the car I added Little Egret, Crested Lark, Crag Martin and Robin.
"Only" 31 species but as always El Fondo produces some special birds!
On the way home I popped in to see my friends between Lorca and Puerto Lumbreres. Their Long-eared Owl numbers are down on previous years. Only one was on show today. Didn't seem at all fazed by a stranger's appearance.
|Long-eared Owl Asio otus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)|
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