Today our birding tour in Spain is focused on the South of Alicante. Hans and his wife Fabienne have come from Belgium to spend a few days with their family. Birds and a beautiful winter weather, a perfect combination!
Both of them are keen birders and are looking forward to seeing 3 different “livers”. The are White-headed Duck, Red-Knobbed Coot, Slender-billed Gull and if time allows us, Bonelli’s Eagle. Nevertheless, they are happy to see other Spanish species which they are not able to watch in their country. Considering this, I suggested to pick them up from Jávea and head to the South of the Alicante province to look for these four “livers”.
Our first stop in this birding Spain tour is in the Clot de Galvany. This interesting reserve was once famous for having a healthy population of Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, but unfortunately the population has declined dramatically to just 1-2 pairs. However, it is still possible to find it in other areas, but I am afraid it will become extinct very soon.
From the hides of Clot de Galvany reserve, we find different species of wildfowl, Little Egret, Spotless Starling and a wintering Yellow Wagtail. We take a stroll and see am Iberian Green Woodpecker flying off from a Carob tree. Besides, dozens of Crag Martins feed intensively on the sky. Then, we continue the path to spot other species such as Sardenian Warblers. In addition, we did see a Darford Warbler calling from the top of an Anthyllis cytisoides. It was the first Darford Warbler for Fabienne. Linnets, Chaffinches, Song Thrushes, Robins, Black Redstarts and Chiffchaffs are everywhere.
Our next stop is in the famous Hondo, a superb area for birding. Soon we find the first raptors soaring, a Marsh Harrier and a pale Booted Eagle. An Iberian Grey Shrike watches everything from a wire. Stonechats are frequently seen and a group of Penduline Tits move among the reeds.
In the second hide we get what we were after, a male and a female White-headed Duck. There are also Coots, Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks and two females Red-Crested Pochards. We continue walking to check one of the favourite areas for Red-Knobbed Coots, and there it is, with is white numbered collar. Nearly all the Red-Knobbed Coots come from a reintroduction project in Valencia Region. The same project is also carried out in the Balearic Islands and Andalucia. Not to said, that Ans and Fabienne are over the moon! It is midday and we have seen two of the four targets.
After that, a Grey wagtail flies from a ditch and Montagu’s Harrier soars high above from a close field. On the way back to the car park, a quick look on the previous hide reveals a Purple-swamp Hen feeding in the reeds. As we drive to the exit of the reserve, I see a line of Pine Processionary caterpillar, a sign of the warm climate of the region.
With no more time to spare, we move to Salinas de Santa Pola, to look for waders and gulls. Twenty minutes later, we are enjoying with a close range stunning Slender-billed gull. It is one of my favourite species, no wonder why it is the logo of the birding company, Birdwatching Spain. Other species are Black-necked and Crested Grebe, a solitary Dunlin, Curlews and a Great White Egret. There are also Avocet, a Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilts, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Sandwich Terns, lots of Flamingos, Serins, an Audouin’s Gull and a Crested Lark.
Then we jump into the car and go to Novelda Mountains to look for the Bonelli’s Eagle. With no luck, we find another interesting species. In the fence of an unfinished and abandoned chalet, Ans with a good eye finds a Little Owl perched remarkably close to a Mistle Trush. Our last stop in a rocky area reveals a Black Wheatear.
It has been a great day birding in this famous birding area, where all great bird watching spots are close one to another. Moreover, Valencia region holds some fantastic steppes to look for bustards, sandgrouses and other top birds. All these lovely bird reserves can be visit during our 5-day bird watching trip.
Have a nice day