EAST WETLANDS

ITINERARY ORNITHOLOGICAL SOUTH OF ALICANTE (SPAIN)

Leader: José Manuel Escarabajal

Participants: PS, JC, MLP, VH, ML, DLM

Checklist:

Montagu’s Harrier, Jackdaw, Swallow, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Egret, Common Swift, Reed Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Cattle Egret, Shelduck, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Stone Curlew, Common Buzzard, Whiskered Tern, White-headed Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Bittern, Woodpigeon, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Pochard, Greater Flamingo, Squacco Heron, Bee-eater, Kestrel, Grey Shrike, Common Tern, Little Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Kentish Plover, Greenshank, Red-crested Pochard, Black-tailed Godwit, Crested Coot, Purple Gallinule, Melodious Warbler, Collared Pranticole, House Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark.

As part of the first group of “Tours of Introduction to Ornithology” it was time to learn about the wetlands  in the southeast. So we met very early to visit arguably the best wet area of the Southeast.
Every  gap was filled with wildlife and numerous flocks of waterfowl were distributed here and there. Even before parking our vehicle a Montagu’s Harrier with a newly captured prey in its talons, made a close fly by.

The first lagoons were filled with mallard, Stilt, Avocet, Shelduck, Coot, Laughing Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and … as an omen of what the day had in store for us, a flock of Glossy Ibis crossed in front of us. In the distance a Common Buzzard, perched on a large dead tree, peering from its perch waiting for prey.
We changed to another lake which continued with surprises: first observations of White-headed duck and Whiskered Tern (which would be a constant throughout the day). And soon we began dancing with the Little Bittern and Purple Heron as special guests, perhaps the two species, together with the Glossy Ibis, most aroused the interest of the participants. Abundance of birds everywhere and a spectacular Flamenco concentration in the  next lagoon.

A stop for a snack and cool off in one of the observatorys, which is equipped in this natural park. We were ready and waiting  for three of the best observations of the day: Purple Gallinule (two chickens), Collared Pratincole and Crested Coot,  (two couples reintroduced to the park). The excitement among the group could not be higher.
In the heat of midday we went to the last observation point of the route. More copies of ruddy duck, cormorant, egret, terns, coots, and that Heron perched on a stick protruding from the water at one end of the lake in full plumage displayed to the delight of the participants. We were definitely lucky today! To complete the route from the last observation we counted numerous waterfowl and waders, examples of Kentish Plover, Colorado Duck  and, finally, (changing of the guard) a pair of Avocets changing over in their nest, leaving a nice farewell picture.
Many lessons learned in one day absolutely fantastic!!!!!

ITINERARY OF INTRODUCTION TO ORNITHOLOGY

“Salinas Steppes”

Leader: Jose Manuel Escarabajal
Participants: Paul Sparkes, Santi, May and Juan Carlos.

CHECKLIST:
Spotless Starling, Black-winged Stilt, Jackdaw, Common Swift , Rock Pigeon,  Woodpigeon, ,  Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Little Owl,   European Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker,  Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Blackbird, Common Warbler, Sardinian warbler, Common Shrike, Magpie,   House Sparrow, Serin, Little Egret, Little Grebe,  Mallard,  Red Partridge, Common Moorhen,    Ringed PloverLittle Bustard, Crested Lark, Lark Common, Short-toed Lark, Stone Curlew, Grey Heron, Nightjar.

We are promoting our bussiness on the open road with these great short trips. After a few refreshing drinks to lessen the rigors of hot it was early afternoon and after a short introductory talk by our guide José Manuel we joined a bird feeder road that led directly into the bed of a watercourse.
This area would be the first leg of our journey into  “Introduction to Ornithology.” The small group of participants showed great enthusiasm from the beginning when the first set of stilts came to greet us (more like trying to get us away from their nests with their constant screaming and flying over our heads). We continue to move among many Jackdaws, Common Swallows, Common Swifts and several flocks of rock doves and pigeons, soon we enjoyed the first prize in the afternoon … A perfect view of a Booted Eagle flying at low altitude close to our position leaving us to enjoy, with great detail, the striking contrast of its plumage.

The first stop was the perfect excuse to introduce some knowledge on species identification, note taking and use of the field guide. Taking advantage of the high point of the viewing area I was able to explain some concepts on the salt marsh ecosystem that stretched before us. We continued on foot to the next leg of the itinerary to see the slopes of sandstone inhabited by bee-eaters, jackdaws, rollers, owls and kestrels. It’s time for another snack (drink) which is used to exchange ideas and answer some questions from participants.
The next goal, before getting into the saltlands, was looking at some distributed irrigation ponds in the area and learn about the ecological role they play as micro-wetlands in the ecosystem. Other species were observed stilts, common grebes, sandpipers, plovers and fascinating spectacle of bee-eaters catching insects on the shallow waters of a reservoir.Quite a show of color!

It was time we get into the plains and steppes, just across the first fallow fields, the second prize of the day: two male Little Bustards took off ahead of us with there very specific flight. But later we see them next to the larks, short-toed, Commons and marshy, Partridges and stone curlews in abundance were distributed throughout the area. At the start of nightfall and grey herons return to their roosts, the curlews increase their activity and the fields are full of rabbits and hares. A Nightjar out to see us off, and we started on our way back home with the satisfaction of a good afternoon’s birding and alot of new things learned.