Friday, January 04, 2019

Pond Herons in January

Is it fanciful to think that Javan and Chinese Pond Herons (Ardeola speciosa/bacchus) might be separable in the depths of  'winter'. Both are in non-breeding plumage and by all accounts are inseparable. But...

A bit of background:

Here are some photos from Lumphini Park, Bangkok.

The difference in appearance of the last two is striking and the colour balance of the first two match what was seen in the field.

At the moment this is just kicking around the idea but as the linked article above suggests perhaps it is worth giving some more thought.

Lumphini Park - The Usual Suspects

It's January so we find ourselves back in Bangkok visiting friends before heading off to explore more of the region. Despite very little sleep over the past few days, thanks to some wonderful New Year celebrations with friends in the UK and a couple of relatively comfortable but ultimately sleepless flights via Muscat, I decided to check out my favourite little slice of green Bangkok.

The park was quite busy with a holiday atmosphere lingering. There has clearly been another cull of the Water Monitors here as numbers were right down on last year. As a result fish and terrapin numbers appeared to be higher. Some work restoring grassy areas meant a lot of disturbed wet ground, proving very popular with the starlings, mynas and other birds.

The usual birds showed well. Notable differences from previous visits at this time of year were larger numbers of Ashy Drongos and more Black-naped Orioles (in both cases I usually only see one or two but the former into double figures and maybe 6 or so of the latter). Other good birds included an Intermediate Egret and a smart adult Black-crowned Night-heron. I'm tentatively identifying the Pond Heron pictured below as Javan based on the colour showing in the neck feathering. Early acquisition of breeding plumage or retained from previous season?

A very cool, cloudy day and light rather poor which made photography challenging with my trusty Canon SX50HS bridge camera but a few passable shots.

Edit: Updated the list below to include extra species seen following morning, which included White-breasted Kingfisher which is unusual for the park and my first White-breasted Waterhen here.

Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus

Asian Pied Starling Gracupica contra

Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia

Javan Pond-heron Ardeola speciosa

Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis

Malaysian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica

Water Monitor Varanus salvator
Complete list for this brief first visit:
Feral Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Asian Koel
Germain's Swiftlet
Asian Palm-Swift
White-breasted Waterhen
Asian Openbill
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Javan Pond Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Striated Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-throated Kingfisher
Coppersmith Barbet
Brown Shrike
Black-naped Oriole
Ashy Drongo (pale leucogenis type)
Malaysian Pied-Fantail
Large-billed Crow
Streak-eared Bulbul
Yellow-browed Warbler
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Taiga Flycatcher
Black-collared Starling
Asian Pied Starling
Common Myna
Great Myna
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Olive-backed Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Wizard Time up The Sleeve

La Manga
This year our 'somewhere cheap and warm' early winter strategy found us staying at La Manga (The Sleeve in Spanish) in the Murcia region of SE Spain. Our home from 5th November to 20th December was an 8th floor one bedroom apartment with stunning views situated between km 13 and 14 along the strip close to the Tomas Maestre marina in a part known as Estacio.

La Manga is a 21km long strip, in places only 100m wide, dividing a shallow inland sea, the Mar Menor, from the Mediterranean. We were positioned above one of the two canals crossing the strip, close to the large lift bridge which opened on the even hours to let sailing boats in and out between the Mar Menor (and the marina) and the open sea. Out of season this is a very quiet place with only a couple of supermarkets and a few bars and restaurants doing a generally slow trade. In summer it must be bedlam as there is a great deal of accommodation here. If here at busy times avoid the even hours as the hold ups when the bridge is open must be crazy.

Daily life here revolved around morning and evening walks along the strip, hot days on the balcony, stupendous sunsets and cool pleasant nights. A very small but excellent local market popped up just south of the bridge every Saturday providing good quality cheap fruit and vegetables, clothes and other stalls.

There is a ferry that runs three times a day between Tomas Maestre port and Santiago de la Ribera on the NW shore of the Mar Menor. At €5 each way per person in theory this should be a good way to access the northern part of La Manga by public transport, and indeed a bus runs every 45 minutes along the La Manga road and there are buses to and from Murcia at Santiago. However at this time of year do not rely on the last ferry of the day. If no-one has used the ferry earlier in the day this will not run as we found out when we arrived by bus from Murcia on 5th November. They did not answer the phone and we had to make alternative arrangements to get to our accommodation.

It's worth noting that Murcia airport is tiny and only has about 10 flights a day. There is no public transport so you have to use taxis or a hire car. We arrived to Alicante airport which is an easy two hours away by bus. We intended to fly out of Murcia but ended up travelling back to Alicante because of severe disruption at Gatwick.

The strip is largely urbanized with a large number of medium-sized high rise apartment blocks spread along most of the way. These are interspersed with some low-rise housing and some undeveloped areas. Most of these are bare ground with varying numbers of trees and shrubs, some wilder than others, and some have stagnant water gathered which presumably would be at least slightly brackish. Fresh water is therefore at a premium, which is why the two small concrete-lined lakes at a disused golf complex near the far north end (Veneziola Golf) proved to be a place worth checking for birds. Here also there were some partly tidal pools which occasionally attracted the odd wader or two. Although this part of the Mediterranean has some tidal flow it isn't enough to produce much intertidal habitat and the amount of water in coastal pools tended to be more dependent on wind strength and direction.

The northern end of the strip is divided from a much shorter strip to the north by a series of inlets and islands. This much wilder, undeveloped habitat is inaccessible from La Manga and far enough away for all but the largest birds to be frustratingly out of reach, even by telescope. It would be well over an hour's drive to access it by land by circumnavigating the Mar Menor!

Just on the southern side of the Estacio canal close to our flat is a fairly wide area of dry scrub and trees with bare areas of mainly small shells and a large salty lagoon divided from the sea by stark but oddly appealing walls of huge rusting metal piling. Although a large fence surrounds it on the road side, any thought of development here looks to have been shelved for some considerable time and access at either end is enjoyed by walkers, sunbathers, many, many fishermen and the odd birder without challenge. Police were often present, I think checking fishing licences.

Finally we made a couple of trips to Cabo de Palos at the southern end of La Manga. The headland here was a dry scrubby promontory with good seawatching and there are some saltpans on the Mar Menor side.

This being SE Spain most days were sunny and dry. Wind was an ever present factor, no doubt enhanced by the fact we were essentially living out at sea. Wind direction and strength was very variable, often changing very quickly. The middle of November was characterised by some very stormy weather, which provided some interesting seawatching, and some heavy rain, which topped up the few reservoirs of fresh water. Early December saw a mini heatwave with temperatures in the mid 20s during the day. Things were cooling off a little more towards the end of December. Nights could be quite cold, down to around 8-9°C at times.

My expectations were quite low as I knew the area to be heavily developed and the range of habitats limited. As a result I was pleasantly surprised by the list that grew during our stay.

66 species in total.

Common Shelduck: 9 flew north on 19 Nov.
Mallard: Small numbers at the far north of the strip.
Northern Pintail: 3 on the golf lakes on 21 Nov
Pintail Anas acuta
Greater Flamingo: A few on the saltpans at Cabo de Palos and plenty visible beyond the northern end of La Manga
Great Crested Grebe: Up to 4 present on the Mar Menor near Tomas Maestre and occasionally seen flying by at sea.
Black-necked Grebe: 2 present on the Mar Menor near Tomas Maestre
Feral Pigeon: Small numbers at Cabo de Palos
Woodpigeon: Up to 6 seen regularly in the northern half of La Manga. Small flocks moving south in early November
Collared Dove: Very common. Population here contains several very dark birds with a deep purplish tone to the plumage creating a very contrasting white eye ring.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Stone-curlew: Heard and seen regularly on the dry shell heath just south of the lift bridge. 25 counted on the dry area here on 10 Dec.
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus

Black-winged Stilt: An adult and 2 immatures present on the golf lakes throughout sometimes joined by 2 more. Also plenty on the Cabo de Palos saltpans.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Avocet: Small numbers on the Cabo de Palos saltpans.
Grey Plover: 1 at the far north end on 21 Nov
Golden Plover: 20-30 on banks between the saltpans at Cabo de Palos on 29 Nov.
Little Ringed Plover: 5 on mudflat at Veneziola Golf and also briefly on the golf lakes on 11 Dec
Whimbrel: 1 in early November on rocky shoreline at Punta del Faro (near the lift bridge).
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Curlew: Up to 2 seen at the far north end.
Turnstone: 2 along rocky shoreline at Veneziola Golf on 5 and 18 Nov.
Temminck's Stint: 1 on the golf lakes on 21 and 29 Nov. 1 also seen in flight along the western shore of the Mar Menor at Santiago de la Ribera on 20 Dec on our return journey.
Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
Common Sandpiper: 1 present throughout on the golf lakes and singles seen on the shoreline elsewhere at times.
Greenshank: 1 on golf lakes on 8 Nov and 3 there on 4 Dec.
Great Skua: 1 on 9 Dec flew into a large party of gulls near the large offshore island. Long views of several chases before it was seen off to the north. 1 followed a fishing vessel with many gulls on 13 Dec and a second bird flew north later.
Arctic Skua: 1 pale phase adult flew south on 13 Nov; 1 dark bird flew north on 19 Nov.
Slender-billed Gull: Common throughout. Small numbers along the strip often feeding on the Mar Menor shore.
Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Black-headed Gull: Present in fairly small numbers throughout.
Mediterranean Gull: Only seen during strong winds. Then often large numbers moving in flocks offshore.
Audouin's Gull: 1 or 2 seen regularly but on the whole scarce.
Yellow-legged Gull: Very common. Large numbers around the large offshore island where it looks like they breed.
Sandwich Tern: Small numbers around throughout. Becoming fewer as time went on. Larger numbers offshore during windy weather.
Cory's Shearwater: 1 flew north on 13 Nov; 1 south on 19 Nov. Both windy days with more seabird movement offshore.
Balearic Shearwater: singles or small numbers seen passing offshore on 19, 28 & 30 Nov, 1, 6, 8, 13, 14 & 16 Dec. 6 Dec was a large movement south of around 120 in small flocks.
Gannet: Always at least one offshore but increased numbers during onshore or strong winds. Mostly adults. On windy days passage was southerly and included immatures of all ages.
Cormorant: Extremely common. Large numbers lining the old metal piling.
Mediterranean Shag: 1 or 2 often present near entrance to canal and often seen passing offshore.
Grey Heron: Small numbers present throughout.
Great Egret: 1 at the far north end on 21 & 29 Nov.
Little Egret: Present in small numbers throughout. Common beyond the north end.
Spoonbill: Up to 15 north of the north end on 29 Nov & 6 Dec.
Marsh Harrier: 1 flew south at the north end on 6 Dec.
Kingfisher: 1 along the canal below apartment most days. 1 at the north end on 21 Nov.
Common Kestrel: 2 singles along the strip to the north.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon: 1 female perched on high window of apartments on 8 Nov. 1 over the flat on 14 Nov.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus
Monk Parakeet: Common throughout with clusters in the Veneziola Golf, Tomas Maestre and Cabo de Palos areas.
Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus
Iberian Grey Shrike: 1 at the north end on 8 Nov and 1 at the Cabo de Palos saltpans on 29 Nov.
Crested Lark: Present throughout scattered along the strip. Up to 5 at a time.
Crag Martin: Present in small numbers throughout. Visiting apartments as though roosting or breeding.
Common Chiffchaff: Small numbers present throughout and seen in most vegetated areas. Numbers falling off significantly by middle of December.
Sardinian Warbler: Small numbers present throughout and seen in most areas with larger vegetation.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Robin: Small numbers present throughout but noticeable influx following bad weather in mid-Nov. Numbers much reduced by middle of December.
Black Redstart: Common throughout.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Stonechat: Also common and widespread in ones and twos.
Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Song Thrush: 1 on 4 Dec.
Blackbird: Present throughout in small numbers.
Common Starling: Numbers fluctuating with flocks lingering and passing through at times.
Spotless Starling: Small numbers in the Veneziola Golf and Estacio areas. Singing at times.
Grey Wagtail: 1 wintering at the golf lakes and 1 seen occasionally in the Estacio area.
White Wagtail: Present throughout. Usually seen singly.
Meadow Pipit: Present in small numbers throughout. Small influx around mid-Dec.
Water Pipit: Up to 2 seen in marshland at the north end.
Chaffinch: Singles on 21 Nov and 11 Dec.
Greenfinch: Present in small numbers throughout with most seen on undeveloped land between housing. Maximum count: 20 on 11 Dec.
Linnet: Up to 6 present on undeveloped land between housing.
Goldfinch: Up to 10 present on undeveloped land between housing.
Serin: Scarce. Up to 6 present on undeveloped land between housing and 4 around the north end.
Reed Bunting: 6 present on marshland at the north end on 11 Dec with singles also seen there.
House Sparrow: Small numbers present throughout mainly in the Veneziola Golf, Estacio and Cabo de Palos areas.

Other wildlife

Bottle-nosed Dolphin: An estimated 10 off shore near the big island moving north on 10 Nov. Some spectacular breaches and acrobatics.

Plain Tiger: Singles seen on three days, twice in the northern part of La Manga and once at the Cabo de Palos saltpans.
Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus
Clouded Yellow: Quite common on sunny days throughout.
Clouded Yellow Colias croceus
Painted Lady: Small numbers on sunny days throughout.
Red Admiral: 1 on 10th Dec.
Lang's Short-tailed Blue: quite numerous towards the start of the period but not seen later on. Unobtrusive.
Lang's Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous
Long-tailed Blue: 1 on 6 Dec but possibly overlooked at other times.
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus
African Grass Blue: 1 on 11 Dec but possibly overlooked at other times.
African Grass Blue Zizeeria knysna
Mallow Skipper: 1 on 10 Nov.
Mallow Skipper Carcharodus alceae
Rusty Dot Pearl: 1 dayflying in gardens on 11 Dec.
Rush Veneer: 1 to balcony lights on
Dark Sword-grass: 1 to balcony lights on 6 Nov & 10 Dec.
Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon
White-speck: different individuals to balcony lights on 7 & 9 Dec.
White-speck Mythimna unipuncta
The Cosmopolitan: 1 to balcony lights on 6 Nov.
The Cosmopolitan Leucania loreyi
Mniotype spinosa: 1 to balcony lights on 11 Nov & 3 Dec.
Mniotype spinosa
Turnip Moth: 1 to balcony lights on 24 Nov.
Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum
Pearly Underwing: 1 dark individual to balcony lights on 3 Dec.
Crimson Speckled: Up to two seen day flying around 8 Nov.
Crimson Speckled Utetheisa pulchella
Hummingbird Hawk-moth: small numbers seen on many days. Last one was seen on a cold cloudy day flying alongside the ferry across the Mar Menor on 20 Dec.
Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum
Red-veined Darter: large numbers in early-mid November, but tailing off in early Dec. Last seen on 11 Dec at small pool near Collados Beach at the far north end.
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii
Vagrant Emperor: 1 at the Cabo de Palos saltpans on 29 Nov.

Red Palm Weevil: 1 on a promenade on 3 Dec.
Red Palm Weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
Marbled Rock Crab
Marbled Rock Crab Pachygrapsus marmoratus
Egyptian Grasshopper: singles seen several times. This pair in cop were seen on 20 Nov.
Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium
Just a few fish from the clear waters of the canal (not confident on fish identification generally but these seem correct):
Doublebanded Bream Diplodus vulgaris
Gilt-head Bream Sparus Aurata
White Seabream Diplodus sargus
Comber Serranus cabrilla
Mediterranean Damselfish Chromis chromis

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

7 weeks in Costa Blanca

In March 2017 we decided we would like to give up regular work. To do this we would need to rent out the house to provide an income and live somewhere cheaper. In September we moved out after a summer of clearing out 20 years worth of clutter. For the first month or so we lived in the campervan travelling around the UK and then looked after a house and pets in Norfolk. But it was always part of the plan to live somewhere warmer during the winter and that somewhere turned out to be Gran Alacant just south of Alicante on the Costa Blanca in Spain for November and December.

We stored the van and flew out to a rented house on a development on a hill above the sea and a low-lying nature reserve. With no car for most of the time life developed a routine of morning walks around the reserve and or the shore with sometimes a second visit in the afternoon. We did hire a car for 2 days and visited El Hondo reserve both around the visitor centre and to a hide on the southern side from the so-called Vistabella Road. On those days we passed the extensive saltpans at Santa Pola a few times and saw more species there. On two other days we were passengers in our friends car when we all visited Cartagena one day and the mountains just NW of Alicante on the other.

El clot de Galvarny became something of a second home and I got to know the wildlife very well over the seven weeks we were there. In the morning the reserve is best accessed from the eastern, beach end, which keeps the sun largely behind you. The habitat near the entrance is dry with pine woodland and mature scrub with many wintering warblers and a lot of Robins and Blackbirds. Mandering west the habitat becomes more open with scattered, old, mainly dead carob trees loved by Little Owl and Southern Grey Shrike. The track then rises to overlook the first lagoon. Continuing and skirting left around this takes you to the first hide overlooking the lagoon from the south. Although fairly small and heavily reeded this is a very productive spot and also hosts the main egret and Jackdaw roost.

The area west of here has a scrape totally overgrown with reed and a visit to the hide there is pointless until the reed is cut, which it wasn't during my stay. Another track head north onto higher ground and a mirador overlooking the reserve. Dry open habitat was home to Stone Curlews and flocks of finches and pipits. A little further west was the main area of wetland, much of which can't be viewed easily, even by straying 'accidentally' from the paths. The largest open area of water, the 'Central Charca', is best viewed at a distance from the high ground to the east and a scope will prove useful to pick out all of the available wildfowl from the melee.

There is an entrance (always open) on the southern edge at this point. A long track heads away to the north here passing a small area of farmland, which held larger numbers of common birds at times, and continuing in a loop through largely birdless short pine woodland on low hills. A small area of mature pines eventually provides a few more birds as the path returns to the western end of the wetland.

Back at the central entrance a track also continues west past dry scrub with open areas that held some of the more unusual species. A bit further along a path to the right leads to a third hide overlooking a small area of partly obscured water and a small, open dry area. This produced far better birding than I would have expected at first and is well worth the visit. Heading a bit further west the reserve fence ends and here there is an area off the reserve that proved very good for certain species, including Bluetail. Well worth a look and easy to access from the last roundabout on the road running alongside the reserve.

Back on the reserve at the westerly track this passes low salt-loving plants, eventually meeting up with the other track to complete a circuit. It is possible to head further west, skirting south of the largest hill on the reserve, as far as some Roman remains but there would be few species here you couldn't see elsewhere on the reserve, at least at this time of year.

Greylag Goose
Very scarce. One bird showed very briefly among reeds on Central Charca on 8th Dec. only.

Common Shelduck
Numerous on the Santa Pola saltpans and El Hondo

Northern Shoveler
Common. Most numerous duck on the reserve. Peak count 156 on 8th Dec.

Single Male and female present on Central Charca from 8th Dec. but not always easy to see.

Small numbers on the reserve throughout.

Northern Pintail
A male from 8th Dec onwards but only seen occasionally. A single female also seen but even less frequently.

Eurasian/Green-winged Teal
Common. Peak count 57 on 8th Dec.

Red-crested Pochard
Present from 22nd Nov. Numbers peaked at 8 on 3rd Dec.

Common Pochard
Common and numerous. Peak count 90 on 8th Dec.

White-headed Duck
Present throughout. Peak count 25 on 12th Dec.

Red-legged Partridge
Up to 3 seen very occasionally on the reserve.

Little Grebe
Common on most open water.

Black-necked Grebe
2 first seen on 30th Nov then 3 present from 17th Dec on the Charca Anatidas. One also seen at the hide from the Vistabella Road, El Hondo.

Greater Flamingo
Immatures present daily on the Centra Charca peaking at 10 on 19th Nov. Thousands on the Santa Pola saltpans and at El Hondo.

Balearic Shearwater
116 counted passing north in parties of between 10 and 20 on 23rd Dec. Further birds could be seen further out but not identified.

Northern Gannet
Small numbers on several days when looking out to sea. E.g. 10 on 23rd Dec.

Great Cormorant
Present throughout along the coast in fairly small numbers. Quite numerous on Tabarca.

European Shag
A few along the shore at Carabassi and also seen at Tabarca and Palma.

Little Bittern
One flew in to the Charca Anatidas in the daytime on 19th Dec. Most unexpected.

Grey Heron
Scarce. At most 2 visiting the reserve but only on a few days. 4 around the visitor centre at El Hondo.

Purple Heron
1 immature in flight then seen by reeds near the Central Charca on 7th Nov.

Great White Egret
1 on the Santa Pola saltpans on 24th Nov and 3 on the reserve but elusive on 10th Dec.

Little Egret
Seen in ones and twos along the coast and occasionally on the reserve. At least 4 to roost on 23rd Dec and 4 in the El hondo visitor centre area on 28th Nov.

Cattle Egret
Seen singly or in small parties just about anywhere during the day. 218 counted in to roost at the Charca Anatidas on 8th Dec with possibly more on 23rd.

Glossy Ibis
1 over the visitor centre at El Hondo on 28th Nov and about 20 from the Vistabella Road on 29th Nov.

Eurasian Spoonbill
5 around the visitor centre at El Hondo on 28th Nov.

1 seen from south of El Hondo on 29th Nov.

Booted Eagle
1 pale phase adult seen on the reserve most days up to 12th Dec. Also a dark phase bird seen occasionally earlier on. At least 2 seen on El Hondo on 28th and 29th Nov.

Golden Eagle
2 sub-adults seen well over Sax Castle on 6th Dec. Drifted off towards the Sierra del Maigmo.

Western Marsh Harrier
Present over reserve throughout. Usually up to 4 but 8 seen on 13th Dec including an adult male (only seen a few times).

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Singles seen every other day or so.

Common Buzzard
Single bird seen on 10th Nov. Then again on 1st, 3rd & 25th Dec.

Water Rail
Present throughout but normally only heard. Seen once well at 'dry' (3rd) hide and an individual from around 19th Dec showing very well right of the main on cleared ground.

Western Swamphen
Common around wet, reedy areas and often easy to see. Many out in the open at El Hondo visitor centre.

Common Moorhen
Common in most suitable habitat.

Red-knobbed Coot
At least 3 around the visitor centre at El Hondo.

Eurasian Coot
Common on most open fresh water.

Common Crane
7 passed over the reserve heading south on 4th Dec.

A single bird seen on 19th Nov, then 6 on 21st Nov. Further singles seen on 1st & 23rd Dec. 8 on 17th in two parties. Always seen in flight or heard at dusk, never seen on the ground.

Black-winged Stilt
Singles seen occasionally over the Central Charca and by the hide of the Charca Anatidas. Very common on the Santa Pola saltpans and at El Hondo.

Pied Avocet
Small numbers (mainly singles) seen on the Santa Pola saltpans and at El Hondo in late Nov.

European Golden Plover
1 flying over the reserve calling on 3rd Dec.

Northern Lapwing
Only small numbers seen around El Hondo on 29th & 29th Nov.

Kentish Plover
2 along Carabassi Beach on 18th and 23rd Dec.

A single bird seen on the rocky shore of the Carabassi Beach on 3 days between 14th Nov and 24th Dec.

Bar-tailed Godwit
3 on the Santa Pola salt pans on 29th Nov.

Black-tailed Godwit
2 on southern El Hondo from Vistabella Road on 29th Nov.

Ruddy Turnstone
Present along the rocky shoreline of Carabassi Beach throughout. Peak count of 13 on 14th Nov.

2 on southern El Hondo from Vistabella Road on 29th Nov.

1 on the Santa Pola saltpans on 29th November and 2 on Santa Pola beach on 5th Dec.

2 near the visitor centre at El Hondo on 28th Nov and 1 on the Santa Pola saltpans on 29th Nov.

Little Stint
2 near the visitor centre at El Hondo on 28th Nov and 2 on the Santa Pola saltpans on 29th Nov.

Jack Snipe
At least 4 seen near the visitor centre at El Hondo.

Common Snipe
Seen throughout. Often seen feeding in dry areas away from the water. Peak count, 5 on 18th Nov.

Common Sandpiper
1 at the river mouth on Palma de Majorca on 15th Dec.

Green Sandpiper
Singles on the reserve on 15th Nov, 7th & 17th Dec. 2 on 28th Nov when 2 also seen near El Hondo visitor centre.

Spotted Redshank
1 near El Hondo visitor centre on 28th Nov.

Common Redshank
2 at the Santa Pola saltpans on 29th Nov and 1 on the reserve on 17th Dec.

1 flew south past Carabassi Beach on 21st Dec.

Slender-billed Gull
Seen at the port of Santa Pola on 8th and 28th Nov. 2 on the saltpans on 29th Nov. with others presumably present throughout.

Black-headed Gull
Common throughout along coasts and wetlands.

Mediterranean Gull
3 in Santa Pola port at dusk on 8th Nov. Otherwise not recorded.

Audouin's Gull
1 ringed 2nd cal year bird present throughout on Carabassi Beach. Others seen here off and on.

Yellow-legged Gull
Very common throughout.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
1 in Santa Pola port at dusk on 8th Nov. Otherwise not recorded.

Whiskered Tern
1 from the 14th Nov over the main lagoon. Presumed present throughout but only seen during warmer periods, usually in the afternoon. Last seen on 25th Dec!

Sandwich Tern
Up to 5 seen along the coast and virtually guaranteed along most of the coast.

Rock Dove
Common in some urban areas.

Common Woodpigeon
Common on the reserve with large numbers building up occasionally and appearing to pass through.

Collared Dove
Not common. Only seen occasionally in Gran Alacant and in Palma and Cartagena.

Little Owl
Up to 3 seen often on the reserve. One almost always on the same branch of a dead carob tree most mornings.
Eurasian Hoopoe
Seen daily. Usually singly but occasionally up to 3 together.

Common Kingfisher
1 near El Hondo visitor centre on 28th Nov.

Eurasian Wryneck
Suspect present throughout but extremely elusive. Singles seen from 3rd hide on 30th Nov and 3rd Dec.

Iberian Green Woodpecker
1-2 present throughout on the reserve but could be unobtrusive. Heard more often.

Common Kestrel
Singles seen every now and then on reserve and elsewhere.

Peregrine Falcon
1 on Tabarca Island on 8th Nov. 1 over Palma on 15th Dec.

Ring-necked Parakeet
A party of 5 seen by the main road near San Javier on 24th Nov.

Monk Parakeet
Common in Cartagena town on 24th Nov.

Southern Grey Shrike
Common on the reserve and seen elsewhere. Sometimes noisy and in groups of up to 3.

Eurasian Magpie
Scarce. 1-2 seen occasional on or around the reserve.

Eurasian Jackdaw
Only seen in late afternoon/evening when a roost gathered near the first hide. Estimate around 100 roosted in the reeds on 23rd Dec.

Eurasian Skylark
Heard flying over on 7th and 8th Nov. Small numbers only.

Crested Lark
Not common but often seen in groups of 2 and sometimes up to 4 on the reserve and elsewhere (e.g. Faro de Santa Pola and El Hondo).

Eurasian Crag Martin
Common throughout but more numerous at start with about 40 around the house on 6th Nov. Often good numbers over the Central Charca in the afternoon.

Barn Swallow
1-2 over the Central Charca on 10th & 11th Nov and 3rd Dec.

Red-rumped Swallow
A single seen over the Central Charca on 21st, 22nd & 27th Nov with other hirundines.

Common House Martin
Present throughout, always with Crag Martins over the Central Charca. Peak count 10 on 18th Nov, but more usually 2-4.

Crested Tit
At least 1 at Petrer Castle and at least 2 at Xorret del Cati in the Sierra del Maigmo, both on 6th Dec.

Great Tit
Often seen on the reserve, usually in pairs.

Long-tailed Tit
Often seen on the reserve in groups of up to 12.

Heard briefly on a few occasions but only seen twice on the reserve. Probably present throughout but elusive when not calling. Common in the woodland around Castell de Bellver at Palma.

Cetti's Warbler
Commonly heard on the reserve throughout and occasionally showing well.

Common Chiffchaff
Very common everywhere.

Zitting Cisticola
Very elusive. Seen on 21st & 22nd Nov and 17th Dec just off the reserve. Best place seemed to be the stand of reed opposite the beach carpark near the junction for the Carabassi Road.

Eurasian Blackcap
Common throughout, especially early on. Particularly numerous on the reserve and along the ravines in early November.

Subalpine Warbler
1 unexpectedly located from a subsong heard on the reserve near the 2nd entrance (may not have been this bird) on 22nd Nov. Presumed 1st winter male.

Sardinian Warbler
Very common everywhere throughout.

Dartford Warbler
Widespread on the reserve but not always seen or heard. Also 2 reliable birds near the Faro de Santa Pola.

European Robin
Common in small numbers. Seemed more numerous early on.

Elusive on the reserve but seen and/or heard throughout. One bird showed particularly well at the first hide after the reeds were cut to the right of the hide. Also seen well near El Hondo visitor centre.

Black Redstart
Very common everywhere.

Blue Rock Thrush
1 at Faro de Santa Pola on 9th Nov

European Stonechat
Common throughout.

Black Wheatear
Up to 2 seen around the residential area of Gran Alacant and also seen from the house. Often went for days without seeing them though. The areas at the tops of the ravines and around building sites seemed most reliable.

Eurasian Blackbird
Very common. More present early on in November.

1 over the beach end of the reserve calling on 25th Nov. A local rarity.

Singles seen on 7th & 10th Nov and 12th Dec.

Song Thrush
Small numbers around the reserve throughout but not always seen. Most often encountered on the southern edge of the reserve by the undeveloped land.

Mistle Thrush
1 at Xorret del Cati in the Sierra del Maigmo on 6th Dec.

European Starling
Not seen until 10th November when a flock of 200 noted passing south. Then large numbers seen on and off including big swarms over nearby towns or roosts. Thereafter smaller flocks seen almost daily.

Spotless Starling
Seen throughout, usually in single figures.

1 on 17th Dec only.

Grey Wagtail
1 present most days on the reserve. Singles also seen in Cartagena and Palma.

White Wagtail
Seen daily, usually singly or in pairs.

Meadow Pipit
Present throughout in small numbers.

Water Pipit
Small numbers seen at El Hhondo on 28th & 29th Nov.

Common Reed Bunting
1 just off the reserve on the edge of the undeveloped land on the south side on 12th Dec.

Common Chaffinch
Common but not numerous.

2 flew south calling over the edge of the Carabassi Dunes on 11th Nov.

European Greenfinch
Up to 3 present but not always seen.

Eurasian Linnet
Small flock (up to 12) present throughout and also seen elsewhere.

Common Crossbill
Seen over the housing and near the dunes on 7th, 15th, 17th & 21st Dec. Also seen in the woodland around Castell de Bellver at Palma.

European Goldfinch
Common throughout but not large numbers.

European Serin
Common throughout but not in large numbers.

Eurasian Siskin
2-3 seen on the reserve on 14th & 25th Nov and 7th Dec. Also 10 in pines in the Santa Catalina area of Palma on 16th Dec.

House Sparrow

Other wildlife:

Spanish Psammodromus
1 on 11th November

Ocellated Lizard
1 resident under a rock by the main track past the Central Charca. Could be seen basking in the sun on all but the coolest days. Also seen once elsewhere.

Painted Lady
Singles seen on odd days throughout.

Red Admiral
Singles seen on odd days throughout.

Plain Tiger
At least 2 by the visitor centre at El Hondo on 28th Nov.

Queen of Spain Fritillary
1 identified on 26th Nov.

Two-tailed Pasha
1 spectacular insect showing really well on the castle walls at Cartagena on 24th Nov.

Lang's Short-tailed Blue
Identified once on 6th Nov.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth
2 around the castle in Cartagena on 24th Nov.

Red-veined Darter
Seen most days in small numbers.

Vagrant Emperor
1 resting after dark in the house porch on 6th Nov.

European Pincer Grasshopper
Common on Tabarca on 8th Nov including egg laying females.

European Mantis
1 high in a date palm in the same place on consecutive days: 9-10th Dec.

Robber Fly
1 with a wasp on 11th Nov.

Wolf Spider
1 on 26th Nov.

Red Squirrel
Up to 3 on the reserve usually near the car park.

European Pond Terrapin
Up to 3 seen from the main hide up to around 26th Nov.