Saturday 4 July 2020

El Fondo with Dave Elliott-Binns

Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Friday 3 July

All set to head off due north and Dave beats me by a couple of days to head north-east and visit that lovely site at El Fondo on the outskirts of Elche near Alicante.  And what some birds did Dave find so I must make a point of calling in when I return from the UK via Valencia.

El Fondo, near Elche  -  Friday 3 July

I had to go and pick up Paul & Reyna from Alicante airport, so it would be damned rude not to pop into the El Fondo bird reserve en route!  I left the motorway and made my way towards the North Gate junction, seeing a Kestrel and Zitting Cisticola on the way.  I turned right and made my way towards the Information Centre.  Great joy as I turned left onto the Centre's approach track.  They've tarmac'd the potholed road!  My truck was the only vehicle in the car park.  As I got out, a Glossy Ibis flew over...a grand start!   The shallow waters in front of me were partially obscured by reeds, but I did manage to see Little Egret and Black-headed Gull.  I made my way to the viewing area by the picnic tables next to the closed Information Centre.  There were three Marbled Duck, a couple of Red-knobbed Coot as well as Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and House Sparrow.  A Great Reed Warbler flew across the water and a Whiskered Tern quartered the pond.

Marbled Duck with Common Coot Fulica atra (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I started to walk along the raised wooden path, immediately flushing a male Little Bittern. On the water I saw female Red-crested Pochard and Little Grebe amongst the numerous Coot.  On the smaller right hand shallow waters there was a single Red-knobbed Coot.  As I approached the raised viewing platform I spotted the rear end of a Purple Swamphen disappearing into the reeds.  I waited for some time to see if it would re-emerge, but alas no.  In the distance I saw Cattle Egret and Jackdaw.  I carried on towards the hides, seeing a young Greenfinch perched on a reed.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
At the first hide, called Saladar, I was blessed with a Purple Heron flypast, followed by a Grey Heron and Woodpigeon.

A Green Sandpiper took off from the mown area in front of the hide.  On the water were the usual Coot plus Great Crested Grebe, Common Pochard and a pair of Marbled Duck.
I carried on to the second and furthest hide, called  Volcam.  On the far sandy embankment I saw Shelduck.  To the right was a Great White Egret which was harassed to flight by a second one. 

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

There were a number of Greater Flamingos in the water.  4 metres in front of the hide was a poorly looking Slender-billed Gull sat on the waters edge.  When it did try to get up, it seemed to have lost the majority of its mobility.  I did glimpse an identity ring which I think I got the number.  Eventually it struggled into the water and swam off.  A Black-winged Stilt showed well.  Two Squacco Herons flew low over the water.

Poorly Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
I headed back towards the car park.  On the way I had additional fly-bys from Little Bitterns and Squacco Herons.  The shallow waters adjacent to the car park now contained a group of about 10 Glossy Ibis.  Also seen before I got back to the motorway, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swift, Collared Dove and Crested Lark.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
El Fondo never fails to deliver!  I was virtually alone on the reserve.  Later on I did hear some distant voices and I met a couple as I got back to the truck.  37 species in all.  A brilliant stopover!
Regards, Dave

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