Day 3 - Wednesday
On previous tours we have been able to gain access to El Hondo Natural Parc on Wednesday mornings to more or less be sure of a sighting of one of the magnificent Greater Spotted Eagle that return here each year. However, work on the reserve now means that public access to the parc is limited to three hours on a Saturday morning making sighting/viewing the Eagles considerably more difficult especially with the weather this morning.
Our usual Day 3 itinerary starts with meeting the warden of El Hondo and spending 3 hours in the reserve at the well elevated observation point. As this is not possible just now the challenge to show Jeff, Kay and Brian the Eagles was a lot harder. We have already spent hours over the last 2 days scanning the "big blue sky" for our quarry. Whilst we had no luck with our desired bird we have had some fantastic views of Common Crane (22) & (12), Booted Eagle (dark & pale phase) in good numbers and Male & Female Marsh Harrier (as many as 9 in one scope view), Buzzards and a single male Hen Harrier.
A torrential downpour last night has left a lot of water lying on the roads and the land, but determined to help Jeff reach his goal of seeing every European raptor, we headed out to Hondo after spending the first part of the morning at Clot de Galvaney (more details in our trip report). On a cycle path where we have seen these Eagles before we were able to achieve Jeffs' goal and good scope views were enjoyed by Jeff, Bryan and myself of an adult Greater Spotted Eagle. Moving on to an area near the south gate we hoped to be able to show Kay an Eagle as it was too difficult for her to access the first viewing point. Much to our delight and Jeff and Kays' absolute euphoria, there perched in one of the eucalyptus trees sat a second one of the Greater Spotted Eagles we had been searching for ! Ever seen a guide so pleased to see a bird that he grabs and kisses his guest ? Well I have now !!! Aquila Bird Tours is proud to have provided the guide who helped a birder with more than 60 years birding experience complete his European Raptor List.
The second bird Mark located a sub-adult (3rd winter) moved from one perch to another providing all members of the group with excellent views. Job done - three happy guests and a very muddy guide !
With the pressure off as Jeff and Kay's' main reason for this trip was to see the Eagle, we will now spend the remaining 2 days of their visit enjoying some more leisurely birding around the beautiful Costa Blanca with Bryan Thomas who will be providing some of the photographs for the trip report.