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Cabo de Santa Pola
The Cabo de Santa Pola has a good range of habitats and birds and is very conveniently situated between the highly developed tourist centres of Alicante to the north and Torrevieja to the south.
The headland itself rises about 100m above the sea and consists of terraces of fossilised coral reef. The vegetation is largely typical Mediterranean scrub with the addition of numerous Mediterranean Fan Palms Chamaerops humilis.
Lying about 4km offshore is the small island of Tabarca and its many islets. There is a village on the western side of the island but the remainder has a covering of dense prickly-pear scrub. Both the headland and the island attract many migrants and the sea around the island is now a marine sanctuary.
To the south of Santa Pola town are a series of salt pans known as the Santa Pola Salinas with an excellent range of wetland birds.
To the north of the headland, between the urbanisations of Gran Alacant and Los Arenales, lies the Clot de Galvany Nature Reserve.
The rest of the area is a mix of scrubland and pine plantations with the usual range of mediterranean species to be found.
 Notable Species
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin is a fairly common breeder on the Cabo de Santa Pola as well as various shrikes and warblers including Sardinian Warbler and Zitting Cisticola. The cliffs of the headland are home to Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush and Black-eared Wheatear and Greater Short-toed Lark can be seen on Tabarca.
Yellow-legged Gull is common on the island and Audouin's Gull can often be seen on the southern coast. European Storm Petrel breeds on Tabarca's satellite islets and Rock Dove and Pallid Swift nest in the village.
During passage periods and in winter the headland and island can provide good seawatching with Cory's Shearwater and Balearic Shearwater, Mediterranean Shag, Northern Gannet and Razorbill. Osprey regularly occurs on passage and in winter.
The former delta of the River Vinalopo now consists of salt pans, freshwater pools and reedbeds, saltmarsh and a long sandy beach. Greater Flamingo, Little Egret, Red-crested Pochard and Kentish Plover can be seen throughout the year at the Santa Pola Salinas. Other residents include Lesser Short-toed Lark, Moustached Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling and Bearded Tit. These are joined in summer by Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Purple Heron, Marbled Duck, Black-winged Stilt and Gull-billed Tern and Whiskered Tern.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater, European Storm-petrel, Great Cormorant, Mediterranean Shag, Northern Gannet, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Common Quail, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, (has bred), Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Razorbill, Rock Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, (PM), Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Greater Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Spanish Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Bluethroat, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
 Other Wildlife
The area contains Ocellated, Red-tailed and Iberian wall lizards, snakes including Montpellier Snake, Field Mice and Pygmy Shrew. Rabbits are to be found in some numbers, providing a good food source for several raptors during the winter. There is an abundance of butterflies, including the Swallowtail, as well as several interesting beetle species. Mosquitoes breed in damp areas and can be quite a nuisance at times. Red-eared Terrapins are found in the pools.
 Site Information
 Areas of Interest
The island of Tabarca can be reached by boat from Alicante or, more conveniently, from Santa Pola with shorter and more frequent trips. Camping is allowed on Tabarca for those wishing to spend more than the usual few hours.
 Access and Facilities
Santa Pola can be reached on the N-332 south from Alicante and the headland can be found on the minor 'Faro' (lighthouse) road to the east about 3km north of Santa Pola. Accommodation is plentiful in both Santa Pola and the nearby towns of Alicante and Torrevieja and the area is ideal for visitors on package holidays to these towns.
Tabarca is reached by ferry from Santa Pola port; there is a daily service starting at 10:30 with several crossings taking approximately 40 minutes for the journey. There are also services from Alicante and Torrevieja, but the journey is longer and less frequent.
The salt-pans cover a large area and lie to the east of Santa Pola and may be marked on maps as the Albufera de Elche. From Santa Pola take the N332 Cartagena road which crosses the area giving good views over the salt pans. There is a track round the northern edge of the pans almost opposite the Playa Lissa road which is worth exploring and further south the old tower to the east of the N-332 also gives access to good birding areas.
The Clot de Galvany reserve entrance is off the road between Gran Alacant and Los Arenales, on the left heading northwards just after leaving Gran Alacant. There is a large parking area and signposted walks.
 External Links
The tourist information website of Elche has a good section on wildlife in the area.
Content and images originally posted by Steve