Sunday 5 January 2020

El Fondo, Elche near Alicante

Sunday 5 January

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)
El Fondo, near Elche, Alicante: 
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.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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.

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

Wryneck Jynx torquilla (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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!

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
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)
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
 Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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