Saturday, 28 May 2011

Salt Pans and Mountain Views

This morning we are to be accompanied by 4 guests who are holidaying here from North Wales. Paul and Brian are local birders at home and have convinced their partners to spend the day with us, so our aim was to make sure they all enjoyed their time out in the field. They had chosen option 2 of our day tour itineraries (which can be seen at and click the Spanish Day Tours link), so we were heading for the Salt Pans. Birding in Spain was new to this group so we were hopeful we could show them plenty of new species.

Leaving their accommodation in La Marina at 08.30am we decided we would make Santa Pola Salinas our first stop. Early morning here usually fulfills everyones need for Gulls and today was no exception. We were presented with "a gull-fest" as soon as we arrived. Close-up and personnel views of Yellow-legged Gull dive bombing us from the near by tower where they had their chicks, was complimented by other gulls including Audouin's Slender-billed & Mediterranean. Further stops along the length of the Salt Pans produced more lifers for the group including Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Purple Swamphen, Spoonbill and every ladies favourite - the Greater Flamingos.

Next stop was El Pinet where the Tern colony held Common, Sandwich, Little, Gull-billed and Whiskered Tern some of which are busy feeding chicks (ahh factor always wins with the ladies in the group !). From here we travelled the short distance to El Hondo where the group enjoyed great views of White-headed and Marbled Duck. Other lifers here included Purple, Squacco & Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Reed & Subalpine Warblers. Not bad for a morning eh !

Earlier Brian had said that he would love to see Blue Rock Thrush whilst he was here, but obviously he knew that Salt Pans and Lagoons was not the place for that particular species. Whilst wanting to provide the men with our best service, but not wanting to instigate divorce proceedings ! the conversation was steered to suggesting we could drop the ladies off to enjoy the afternoon by the pool and we head off to Monnegre (about 40 minutes away). So with the ladies safely deposited at the villa we headed for the Mountains.

Slender-billed Gulls

Kentish Plover

A short drive North and we were in the Mountains at Monnegre. We had warned Brian and Paul that this was not the best time of day to visit this site, as early morning is better, they were still keen to try and add to their list of lifers. Black-eared Wheatear provided the first of these quickly followed by Black Wheatear and Bee-eater. Biggest surprise of the afternoon were two pair of Western Orphean Warbler and a very showy male Spectacled Warbler.

For Brian the moment of the day came when I put him on a stunning male Blue Rock Thrush (see picture below), which I had heard for a while before locating him on a nearby slope showing very well and providing us with the perfect ending to a great days birding.

Black-eared Wheatear

Blue Rock Thrush

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