Sunday 12 February 2023

Marjal dels Moros, Valencia

Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Saturday 11 February

Staying in Lliria, ten mike north-west of Valencia, with my youngest son and family so, at last, a chance to explore a local birding site thanks to some great research by my friend Chris Bell back in Worksop.  Only forty-five minutes away, the Marjal dels Moros reserve is huge reedbed with many lagoons and hidden pools on the coast about seven mile north of Valencia.  The day was completely calm albeit lots of white fluffy clouds with occasional blue breaks. so well wrapped up in many layers to keep out the cold.

Marjal dels Moros reserve looking east (away from coast)

No sooner had I arrived and walked through the entrance gap than I was presented with scores of feeding Crag Martins swirling about above me and numerous Chiffchaffs feeding in the reeds to my side. By the end of my 6 1/2 km anti-clockwise walk around the reserve in just under four hours than I had estimated both species to be well into the hundreds.  And once reaching the main pools the number of resting Shoveler topped both with a calculated 160 individuals.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

On the first lagoon I also found both Teal and Mallard along with a quartet of Cormorant. The first of three White Wagtails put in an appearance followed by a Coot. Then, at the back of the water, my first Purple Swamphen fiddling around at the reed base.  I was later to see three more Swamphens and many more Coot.

Mainly Shoveler Anas clypeata with a few Teal Anas crecca

Leaving the water I noticed my first Robin and then at the second lagoon a whole host of ducks.  Mainly Shoveler but also scores of Teal along with about a score of Common and almost as many Red-crested Pochard, a few Mallard and a Gadwall.  Just in front of me a couple of sleeping male White-headed Ducks but before departing more appeared out of the reeds totalling four males and two females.  A Little Grebe was busy feeding and behind me on the scrubland the first of eight Stonechat to be recorded.

Four male and two female White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucosphala

However, this particular hide, the second, remained focused in my mind as the site where, within five metres of the entrance, a female Cirl Bunting landed on the verge immediately in front of me.  With the camera still inside its bag within the rucksack on my back, it was a case of telescope down and bins up to take in its pristine condition; what a gorgeous bird and certainly my "Bird of the Visit."

Meanwhile, a Grey Heron flew over and away to the nearby coast and I moved on to the second hide overlooking this water and found a trio of Black-winged Stilts along with another Purple Swamphen. Way off to the left a Gadwall moved into sight and a Cetti's Warbler let forth with its raucous call.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Continuing on I came across a Zitting Cisticola before the next tower hide overlooking a water that seemed to consist of purely Mallards and a single Purple Swamphen other than the obligatory Crag Martins. But then  change in direction led to a small elevation enabling me to look over the trees and scrub below.  It was here that I saw both the Booted Eagles and Marsh Harrier and a Magpie flew over the area.  As I moved on both a Buzzard and a Kestrel. and then looking down a  another track I was somewhat amazed to see, at about thirty metres, a Kingfisher resting high in a small tree. 

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

A single Chaffinch moving towards the last big hide where it seemed to be the turn of the Gadwalls to take centre stage.  As I departed a couple of Little Egrets flew in and landed, one in the reeds and the other on the track itself.  Finally, as I gradually made my way back to the car and starting point, a stop at the final hide which produced a couple of Grey Herons and more Teal and Mallards.  Approaching the car I recorded both House Sparrows and Woodpigeon and at the car itself a small charm of five Goldfinches were in the adjacent trees.  And just to finish off the day, as I moved away I noted both Spotless Starlings and a Collared Dove on the wires at the side of the road.

Male and female Teal Anas crecca

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Male Gadwall Anas strepera

Female Teal Anas crecca

White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucosphala

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

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