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Birding in Alicante Province

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Old Sunday 2nd August 2015, 21:12   #176
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Today's little jaunt was a late afternoon run out to El Pinet, but really not much to report from there. No hoped-for pratincoles, just a few Little Tern and Common Tern , plus the usual flamingoes, avocets and stilts, plus a couple of Redshank and a couple of Black-tailed Godwit and just a single Slender-billed Gull. However, heading back uphill, along the edge of the new-ish Urbanizacion, I surprisingly added a new species to my lifetime Spain list, spotting a Linnet feeding on the wild fennel growing in farmland along the road.

My plans to head back via the Palm Farm Road (now that I finally know where it is!) were unfortunately scuppered by a flat tyre, but as I waited for the emergency services to arrive (wife & kids in the car), I finally added Bee-eater to this year's list (they seem very thin on the ground to me this year as I'm used to hearing them most evenings over the house during our summer visit, but haven't seen or heard a single one until today. On the other hand, two more Roller seen today, which seem to be having a particularly good year!
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Old Tuesday 4th August 2015, 12:49   #177
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Another morning cycle, this time out to San Felipe Neri and that end of El Hondo.

Once again, I took some of the farm tracks and was rewarded with lots of Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis, as well as perhaps 300 Jackdaws feeding on irrigated fields. Lots of fields held the purple-flowered shrub that seems quite widespread; not sure what it is, but it was smelling fantastic, like a cross between roses and jasmine, and was attracting lots of yellow (brimstone?) butterflies.

I also heard a distant Quail calling from farmland near the large warehouses and pool-supplies superstore on the Dolores road, but didn't get near enough to have a chance of a visual.

Took the Camino El Hondo road around to Catral, finding a Little Owl on a roadside telegraph pole, then headed down to the two platforms on the western edge of the reserve, but the high reeds prevented much being seen, other than a couple of Reed Warbler, a showy Great Reed Warbler and a few Zitting Cisticola.

Finally round to the San Felipe visitor centre area, where the newly flooded pools held plenty of herons and terns, but not much else, while a single Marbled Duck was on the small pond behind the screens with a handful of Red-headed Pochard and the usual tagged Red-knobbed Coot. A Purple Swamphen was about all I could find from the "left-hand" hide, while the furthest hide was a big surprise, with almost no water there at all. The exposed mud held a few waders dotted about, but I could only identify a few Little Ringed Plover and a single Common Sandpiper
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Old Friday 7th August 2015, 09:16   #178
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Not able to get out much at all in the last few days, but I am at least pleased to report the presence of Bee-eaters over the Urb every day this week, having struggled to find any at all over the first week I was here.

Then today, a leisurely cycle round some of the local camino and along the Vistabella Road with a neighbour (so not really possible to keep stopping!) gave me a surprise find in one of the fields: 4 Whimbrel!
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Old Sunday 9th August 2015, 21:32   #179
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Took a ride out along the N332 from La Marina towards Santa Pola this morning, making it as far as the tower lay-by, with quite a lot of decent birds around. The lagoon by the lay-by itself was full of Flamingo, very close to the road, causing a bit if of a photographer frenzy when I was there, although not many took any notice of the lovely Turnstones also pecking about in the shallows. Further south, there were several Kentish Plover, a few Little Stint, and what I think were two Spotted Redshank (but will post photos for confirmation when I get a chance) and at last, my first Collared Pratincole of the year. A single Dunlin, a few Redshank, several Stilt, an Avocet with chick, and a Common Sandpiper completed the wader list, while Common, Whiskered, and Little Tern were also all present. Heading home, a Short-toed Eagle soared low over the road as I passed Iceland, before banking over Lidl and passing over me again and then drifting off South!!
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Old Wednesday 12th August 2015, 21:35   #180
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Had a ride up into the Sierra Crevillente today, which was rather a challenge, but was something a bit different in birding terms. And I added yet another lifer, so well worth the effort!

As I headed north and uphill out of Crevillente town, it was nice to see good numbers of red-rumped swallow hawking over the farmland, and also a spotted flycatcher flitting about just outside the town, and three bee-eaters perched in a tree. Once up into the hills, a couple of roller were seen just before reaching an (aqueduct?) arch. I headed right from the archway, and soon found myself struggling up steep hills in the shadow of towering cliffs, but it was tricky to identify many of the flighty birds along the route in part due to my crap bins, in part due to the sweat running into my eyes and an inability to hold my hands stable as I gasped for air!!

Nevertheless, I had good sightings of a unknown species perched on a bush, which turned out to be a lifer: black-eared wheatear! As I got higher, unknowns kept on coming (showing my complete lack of familiarity with Spanish upland species) but I think I may have seen rock sparrow and tawny pipit based on the brief sightings and notes I made, but I couldn't be sure.

Finally, I literally reached the end of the road and continued up a steep, stony path about another half mile, getting fantastic views of alpine swift whooshing past above and below me. Some dark hirundines were also feeding up near the tops of the cliffs, possibly crag martin, but again, I can't be sure, unfortunately.

Oh, and a post-script just to mention the wonderful early morning sight as I set out, riding past farmland near Urb Oasis, where 2 newly irrigated fields held c400 cattle egret, 120+ glossy ibis, and around 30 Mediterranean gulls.
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Old Friday 14th August 2015, 08:26   #181
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Hi lazza. Where that road turns to a rocky track there is a villa called Finca Bonelli's Eagle. Named because the cliffs above it hold a well known Bonelli's Eagle nest. The owners Colin & Jane do b & b and I have stayed there before for a few day. It's superb to sit outside with a beer and watch the Bonelli's Eagle while a Black Wheatear hops around your feet. Aah memories.
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Old Friday 14th August 2015, 12:43   #182
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Hi lazza. Where that road turns to a rocky track there is a villa called Finca Bonelli's Eagle. Named because the cliffs above it hold a well known Bonelli's Eagle nest. The owners Colin & Jane do b & b and I have stayed there before for a few day. It's superb to sit outside with a beer and watch the Bonelli's Eagle while a Black Wheatear hops around your feet. Aah memories.
Aha! I had always wondered where this place was, but I was under the impression (don't know why) that it had closed...? I do remember there were several people sitting out on that terrace as I headed back down the track, but thought it must be just locals enjoying watching the puffing-and-panting British idiot out on a bike at midday!! The small canyon that ran uphill from that last finca was one of the places I think I saw Rock Sparrow, and looking back at my notes, I am wondering if I could have also seen Calandra Lark there (very large pale brown bird flying away from me but with noticeable facial markings). Anyway, next year, I'll be better prepared (better bins and more homework on what to expect!!)
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Old Friday 14th August 2015, 20:55   #183
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I did hear a rumour that they were selling the finca but not sure how true that was. I wouldn't have thought you would get Calandra up there but we did see Thekla Lark.
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Old Tuesday 1st September 2015, 22:37   #184
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Wonderful sight of 35 Bee Eaters flying over Encebras near Pinoso late this afternoon, have never seen such a large flock. Upwards of 100 Chough riding the thermals earlier too
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Old Friday 4th September 2015, 14:57   #185
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I might be going to Elche over the Christmas period any interesting places nearby?
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Old Monday 7th September 2015, 10:31   #186
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I might be going to Elche over the Christmas period any interesting places nearby?
Yes! Lots! Check the Costa Blanca Bird Club website, there is a page dedicated to sites in the southern Costa Blanca. There's also a guide to species, giving you a pointer of what you might see at that time of year, and where to see them.

El Hondo (also called El Fondo in the Valencian dialect) is very close to Elche, and probably the best reserve in the area, with lots of winter visitors to see (although I've never been there in winter!), but there are also coastal salt pans (Salinas) to visit, with basic hides at El Pinet beach.
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Old Monday 7th September 2015, 11:15   #187
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Yes! Lots! Check the Costa Blanca Bird Club website, there is a page dedicated to sites in the southern Costa Blanca. There's also a guide to species, giving you a pointer of what you might see at that time of year, and where to see them.

El Hondo (also called El Fondo in the Valencian dialect) is very close to Elche, and probably the best reserve in the area, with lots of winter visitors to see (although I've never been there in winter!), but there are also coastal salt pans (Salinas) to visit, with basic hides at El Pinet beach.
Thanks a lot
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Old Monday 7th September 2015, 20:50   #188
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazza View Post
Yes! Lots! Check the Costa Blanca Bird Club website, there is a page dedicated to sites in the southern Costa Blanca. There's also a guide to species, giving you a pointer of what you might see at that time of year, and where to see them.

El Hondo (also called El Fondo in the Valencian dialect) is very close to Elche, and probably the best reserve in the area, with lots of winter visitors to see (although I've never been there in winter!), but there are also coastal salt pans (Salinas) to visit, with basic hides at El Pinet beach.
Spotted Eagle!

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Old Tuesday 8th September 2015, 09:01   #189
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Just a couple of shots from the summer: 400+ egrets and ibis take flight (taken with my phone!) and flamingos on Santa Pola Salinas (taken with my compact camera).... really must invest in a better camera out in Spain!
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Old Friday 11th September 2015, 06:53   #190
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Yesterday late afternoon - one of the great sights which makes this area so worthwhile...

For those who know the area, there was a flock of at least 200 Bee-eaters just south of the Vistabella Road at El Hondo along the farm track leading to the Palm Farm Road. Incredible sight and sound, there could well have been more of them hunting over nearby fields which had become flooded after last weekends heavy rain.
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Old Monday 21st September 2015, 09:34   #191
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Nice photos, Mark.

There seemed to be very few bee-eater around for me this summer. Only had them over the house a few times, and hardly saw any at all around the caminos where I cycle and usually see them regularly (including the track where you took those photos). On the plus side, and sticking with the colourful visitors, there seemed to be a glut of rollers this summer :)
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Old Monday 21st September 2015, 09:42   #192
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Yes there have been quite a few Rollers in the area and a shortage of Bee-eaters and also Woodchats - I've only seen one of the latter this summer!

Had my first Bluethroat of the autumn last Friday in the Clot de Galvany, reports from other areas suggest there will be quite a few of them around this winter.
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Old Monday 21st September 2015, 15:49   #193
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Lovely shots, Mark. I really must try to get out there in the Autumn/Winter one year....!

Yes, now you mention it, I only saw one woodchat shrike, too, the last day I was there over Easter, and none at all this summer. Didn't see one at all at my "dead-cert" location on any visit (the scrub to the east of the N332 at the La Marina Mercadona roundabout).
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Old Monday 21st September 2015, 18:00   #194
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Great shots Mark.

My son Is In the Alicante area just now but he wouldn't know a Bee-eater from a Blackbird..! This thread may tempt me to look at this area for next years holidays,Instead of Mallorca.
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Old Thursday 24th September 2015, 11:52   #195
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Im back out for the first time in ages Mark in late November so hoping to catch up with all the regular stuff and fingers crossed get into the mountains to check for Accentors etc. Any updated info is welcome.
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Old Monday 5th October 2015, 07:24   #196
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As suspected, there are even more Bluethroats here than in previous years, saw a group of 15-20 birds in the Clot de Galvany last week. Also had my best-ever sighting of a Wryneck there, and there seem to be higher numbers of Marsh Harriers about than usual.

Red-rumped Swallows also still here in good numbers.
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Old Monday 5th October 2015, 09:15   #197
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Great pics Mark.
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Old Monday 5th October 2015, 15:27   #198
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Mark, they are fabulous pictures I'll be around Clot de Galvany later this week and have never seen a Wryneck, can you give me a clue where that little beauty was please, I would love to see one.
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Old Monday 5th October 2015, 19:09   #199
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Hope this works for you Tony

If you look at my Opus page in conjunction with the attached map, I have added in the hide locations. The Wryneck was at the Marsh Hide (there is a clear path to it not shown on Google Maps but I have put it in).

I have to say this was only the third time I've seen a Wryneck there this year, the other two views were of a very distant bird in the trees from the marsh hide. It looks unpromising at first, but if you're willing to be patient and spend some time there, it can be very productive - especially the bushes to the right of the hide.

Good luck!
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Old Monday 5th October 2015, 21:19   #200
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Thanks Mark, I know exactly where that hide is, had lovely views of a pied flycatcher last time I was there. I will have a look later this week. Appreciate your help.
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