Saturday, July 7

Birds Butterflies Plants and Flower of Corral Rubio.

An exciting first for both of us.  A terrific sight.

Another really good day around Corral Rubio, Petrola and Higueruela in the grain store of Albacete. We knew that it was likely to be a very hot day and it was already 24 degrees when we left Gran Alicant at 6 am.  As we approached our destination it became cooler and a stiff breeze helped to bring it down to 12 degrees.

We decided to investigate Corral Rubio area first and at our first stop, we watched dozens of Gull-billed Terns flying over the surrounding cornfields of barley, oats and wheat. At one point they were just over our heads calling and wheeling away. 

 On both sides of the track, there was a multitude of flowers and foliage in the unattended margins.  From this, we heard Common Quail calling from several locations, even though we remained patient not one came into view.  That's no surprise really, but it would have been exceptionally good to see one either scurry away or flying.

This is Great Bustard territory and we checked every field that we could see.  In the distance, we spotted three in a group and one solitary male bird.  We moved on attempting to get a closer view and in doing so we had great views of a group of seven just one field away from the road.  These birds are majestic and always worth searching for.  Overhead there were still Gull-billed Terns with Pallid Swifts and Swallows feeding over the corn.

Our next location was on the road to Montenegro Del Castillo were on a previous trip I had seen a substantial piece of water which appears to be capable to stand the summer heat.  This road although frequently used, there are plenty of places where cars can safely stop.  The habitat here is more varied and thus more interesting.  Alongside the road and next to the water, there is a pull off under the pines where the wildlife can be observed.  We saw both Little and Black-necked Grebe, Lots of male White-headed Duck with females and in the distance other waterfowl.

  A female Marsh Harrier plunged into the reeds and did not reappear.  Over a ridge two Buzzards hung in the wind.  This is a place that we will return to.  It was also a very good spot for Marbled Whites butterflies and although difficult to photograph because of the wind and with perseverance they were photographed.

Lagunas de Petrola was again disappointing, but it did provide views of Yellow Wagtails and Tree Sparrows.  A Common Sandpiper flew, Lapwings were easily spotted and a Great Reed Warbler rasped away. On the water, lots of juvenile Back headed Gulls.  We did not stay long and headed for the causeway which a few weeks ago was impassable, but today it was as ‘dry as a bone’.  Then we got lucky for on the end of the causeway a male GB flew to our right and two females flew away to the left.  In the overgrown margin we saw clearly two young birds (and possibly a third one).  One of the youngsters ‘panicked’ after being spooked by our arrival.  Then it squatted down and remained so.  It was immovable for about ten minutes with its tail feathers being ruffled by the wind.  The soil is reddish here and the plumage is fawny, but it was not easy to see and so we worked at it.  I eventually got some photos and then our two-foot high chick walked away into the corn.  It is so good to see young birds like these and I hope that they make adulthood.

By this time the temperature had risen and we moved on and in the distance we relocated our flown away adults. They had not gone that far.  Before we had left the fields we again watched Gull-Billed Terns circling overhead and the camera clicked again.  In the Camino, a Red-legged Partridge paraded her seven chicks before running away.

We headed towards Higueruela, which has been a first stop of the day before, but on this occasion, we did it last.  Under the pines, we had eight bird species either seen or heard.  We had hoped for Golden Orioles again but not today.  The Bonelli's Warblers called and flitted around.

I have not listed all the birds seen as most are usually found on days like today.  However, Bee-eaters were noticeable by their absence as we only saw two.  Great Spotted Cuckoos and Wheatears were absent too.  This year has been different and continues to do so.

We always pay attention to the small stuff.  I have already mentioned Marble Whites and also there were Small Whites flying around.  Add to that Clouded Yellow Painted Lady, Spanish Gatekeeper,
Before all of those, we watched and photographed several Red-underwings.

We will do this again next month and see how it compares.  It means we have to get out early.


Saturday, June 16

Its getting hot but plenty to see !

Lucky for me my friend Trevor turn up, so I've had a few days Bonus Birding,
Day 1 Bonete.

Essential early start leaving Gran Alacant at 6.15  arriving  Bonete 8.15  chilly at only 12 degrees, with clear sky's,  first stop and a quick scan/stretch of the legs and a cup of tea while scanning a Great Bustard flew over, so pressures off, having missed them last time.  Also, some Gull-billed Tern.  Rock Sparrows at Chinchilla a  guaranteed place to see them.  On  one of the pools on route to Coral Rubio, had Gadwall,  Shovelers,  Red-crested Pochard.

                                                              Rock Sparrow

                                                             At Coral Rubio
Black-necked Grebe  Little-ringed Plover,  A male Marsh Harriers,  Lapwings, good number of  Great Bustard around the lakes, but only at first light. We heard a Quail there.  We decided to detour to  Montealegre del Castillo as there are a few nice lakes to check out.  Along with this roadside a fantastic carpets of wildflowers along the roadside.

 At the lakes lots of White-headed Duck,  Great Reed Warbler,  Pochard,  Little Grebe,  Black-necked Grebe,  Greater Flamingos,  Buzzard over. And across the plains  Corn Bunting,  Calandra Lark,  Bee-eaters,  Great Bustards,  Hoopoe's,  Thekla's Lark, Yellow Wagtails,  lots of Gull-billed Terns  and Stone Curlew,

Yellow Wagtail

Arriving at Petrola
Tree Sparrow,  Yellow Wagtails,  Redshank,  Kentish Plover,  Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt,  Avocet,  Black-headed Gull,  a few Male Marsh Harriers.

Tree Sparrow


Little Ringed  Plover

Heading off to Higueruela across the Plains,  all very quiet and was to be expected as the heat was starting rise.  The plan was to have lunch in the shade and look for Golden Oriole.  They didn't disappoint another good show of the bright yellow and black passerine songbird.

 Bonnell's Warbler

 Mistle Thrush,  Bonnell's Warbler,   Chaffinch also there, Time to head for home but not before a  4  Ibex ran through the Cornfields / Wheatfield's and onto the main road I have no idea what these mammals are doing here. I've been in this area hundred's of times and never seen these before and never heard any reports of them. Could be an interesting find for this his area?

  A Golden Eagle drifted across.  Crazy end to the day.
Species total for the day 60

Day 2
Only extended morning birding today so an early start at 6.30 and look for the Rufous Bush Robin at The Carabassi site.  This historical site has been the best place to see the Robin, but not today, only a few pairs of  Spotted Flycatcher there.

 On to the
 Santa Pola Salinas,

  Little Tern

  Little Tern,  Slender-billed Gull,  Little Bitten,  Red-rumped Swallow, Lots of Pallid Swift,  House Martins,  Fan-tailed Warbler,  good numbers of Great-crested Grebe, Yellow Wagtails,  lots of  Collared Pratincole. 

 At El Pinet 
Surprise bird of the day a Turtle Dove, which was perched in the pine tree next to the car park.  The Common Tern colony is thriving with many chicks already fledged, Sandwich Tern and Little Tern in good numbers. The tracks at the back of La Marine only produced Bee-eaters and a few little Owls.  No sign of the Rollers there. As the birding was flat to cut our  losses and head off to Yecla.

  On route a flooded field with lots of Mediterranean Gulls,  Glossy Ibis, and Cattle Egrets, and  Squacco Heron.  A Roller flew and landed in a palm tree in front of us.

 Mediterranean Gulls

 Cattle Egrets

 Squacco Heron

Arriving at the Claudette end. The Rock Sparrow colony is doing well with plenty of burrows occupied,

  Rock Sparrow

 Woodchat Shrike on the irrigation sprinklers.  Further down the track, Black-eared Wheatear,  Lesser Kestrel hunting over the fields. Without a doubt, we made the right decision more birds at Yecla and cooler,  Stone Curlews and lots of Calandra Larks and Greater Short-toed Lark.

Greater Short-toed Lark

 more surprises in store a Spectacled Warbler showed well in some scrubland.

 Spectacled Warbler

 Trevor picks out a Golden Eagle. We went to the  Pin-tailed Grouse fields and sure enough, they were there, 6 bird in total.

  Pin-tailed Grouse

 A few Chough flying around, and  Golden Orioles calling.  We end our day with a Black Wheatear.
All in All a packed birding morning.
Species total 92
 it's getting hot but still, plenty to see!
Big thanks to Trevor.

Tuesday, June 5


You may have been enjoying the sunshine on the coast of Costa Blanca, but here at Yecla less than an hour from the coast was a very cool 9 degrees with light rain on and off during the day with almost 70 percent cloud cover, with a few brighter moments, lots of puddles and some much bigger,  I've never seen so much water at Yecla, which just goes to prove how much rain there's been this Spring. 
 We had already decided to have changed from the usual route and start from the Yecla end, hoping that the early start might produce a few Sandgrouse.
On route a some Rock Sparrow, Corn Buntings.  Linnets and Goldfinch in good numbers,  the odd Greenfinch, and Iberian Woodpecker also seen.  I thought I spotted a Harrier but lost it before I got out the car, but a few seconds later a Booted  Eagle drifted past.
We went to look for the bee-eater colonial which has been fantastic in previous years but its non-existent and abandoned this year.
 We entered the best area for Larks and Sandgrouse, Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested and Thekla's Lark were all there. 
Short-toed Lark
 Well camouflaged and flighty it was difficult to get a good photo.

Calandra Lark
 We heard Sandgrouse, a few times, but in the end, we got treated to a very close flypast of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, these birds seem to be very faithful to a few fields which they do return to, it's worth double checking the field as not all the bird will take flight.  A little further on we came across a pale morph  Short-toed Eagle perched in an almond tree, which had me scratching my head for a few moments. Lesser Kestrel in the fields and hunting overhead. A  bit further on little owls, Hoopoes, 2 or 3. Black-eared Wheatears, Chough, and a pair of Woodchat Shrike.
Black-eared Wheatear
Woodchat Shrike
 A nice morning out but a little disappointing there wasn't few more birds.  Spain is such s beautiful place and there's much to be enjoyed, 
it's a great time to be out.
Enjoy the photos
Cheers Bryan

Monday, May 28


By 8.30am on Monday 28th May we had turned off the A31 and we were heading towards the village of Higueruela just north of Almansa and in the province of Albacete.  The temperature is a chilly 12 degrees, a cold wind and with cloud cover.  The surrounding fields are a favourite destination for us where we have had success in the past.  Our first stop was where the road turns at a 90-degree angle before the rail line.  A Common Buzzard flew and perched on a pylon.

 Two Kestrels flew away from the building ridge without us being able to decide whether they were common or lesser.  More importantly, a Little Bustard flew quickly and we heard Pin-tailed Sandgrouse calling and then we observed them in flight with two landing in the distance.  A Stone Curlew called and one walked in a cultivated field.  We were pleased with all that and considered a good start for our morning, but we had hoped for better and closer views of everything. 


  The fields had had thorough soaking and run-off lagoons and puddles were evident.  Everywhere was green and amongst all the cereal crops were red poppies, blue/mauve upright stemmed flowers - an id. awaits - and a multitude of grasses and vegetation.  All very colourful and beautiful.

We moved on and before Higueruela we turned onto a Camino.  We stopped and listened and in the pines, a Bonelli’s Warbler called and we caught a partial call of a Golden Oriole.  Our day was about to get much better.  Orioles flew and a female perched on a bare branch of a large tree and in a clear view.  It got even better when a male joined her in the same one.  There was no branch or foliage to obscure our view although they were not that close.  Will we ever be satisfied?

The photographs prove exactly what we saw.  We were delighted as these two birds were our best ever clear vision views of this sometimes difficult-to-see bird.  Again we heard Bonelli’s Warblers and we both had a very clear just-over-our-heads sighting of this lovely little bird.  What a great spot we had found.

We travelled on towards Lagunas de La Petrola in search of Great Bustards especially, but with an open mind on whatever species we could see.  On this occasion, we were not successful and apart from seeing two Kentish Plovers,

 A little later,  a male and female Marsh Harrier flew over a reedbed, but there was nothing of real note to be found.  Many of the common species were seen, but some others were absent.  Bee-eaters which are usually easy to find were there, but only one or two were around.  The cold weather has made Spring very late.

Thursday, April 26

Seven Days intense Birding

I should have been co-leading Bargain Birders Bird Club this week, but due to some ill health issues and cancellations the trip got cancelled, but very fortunately for me Richard Hanman who runs the Bargain Birders Club, decided to continue with his visit and carry on and go birding and make some news!

All the photos are of the actual Bird seen and not library images or from past encounters,

Common kestrel
Tucking into a locust

Day 1 – Local patch birding Santa Pola, El Pinet, San Felipe VC and El Hondo back roads.
It had been 7 months since I last went birding with Richard Hanman so we were both keen to be out. We started at the Santa Pola Salinas birding from the various pull in sites off the main N332.
 Next stop was El Pinet

Greater Flamingo

We then moved onto San Felipe Visitors Centre picking up Great Spotted Cuckoo and Whinchat in the car park before entering the main reserve. From the observation deck, we added a distant Short-toed Eagle, while the pool itself held Red-crested Pochard, Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled Duck. 

Red-crested Pochard
From the boardwalk, we added Collared Pratincole, a lone Wigeon and Glossy Ibis.
Collared Pratincole

Glossy Ibis
From the furthest hide, we had good views of a Spotted Crake feeding in the margins.
Satisfied we’d seen everything at San Felipe we spent the rest of the day driving the back roads around El Hondo. This proved productive adding to our day list.
We finished the day with 65 species – a good start to our list and with Spring being late in Costa Blanca this year and many of the summer migrants were still to arrive I was feeling optimistic for the week to come.

Day 2 – Exploring the steppe at Bonete, Petrola, Corral Rubio and Claudette-Yecla valley.

Great Bustard
An early start saw us leave Gran Alicant at 6 am and drive to Bonete, arriving just before 8 am and it was still chilly (5oC). We kick started our day list with Corn Bunting and White Wagtail. It wasn’t long before we located our first Great Bustard and by the end of the day, we had seen over 70 of these iconic birds, suggesting a healthy population.

 As we explored the tracks around Bonete we added Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Sparrow, Rock Dove, Northern Wheatear, Linnet and Calandra Lark.
At Corral Rubio, the winter flood waters had receded allowing us to drive through the middle from one side to the other. Only a few Lapwing, Mallard, Coot and a lone Whimbrel remained, all other birds had moved on before the water disappeared altogether.
Next stop was Petrolia to bird the saline lagoons near the abandoned railway station. 

Here we had good views of a Ruff which had a white head as it started to develop its breeding plumage colours. Other new birds for our trip list were Water Pipit, Kentish Plover and Tree Sparrow Black Tern.

Kentish Plover
Time was ticking on so we headed to Higuerela for lunch under the shade of the pine and poplar trees. It was too early in the year for Golden Oriole but we did pick up Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Green Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper.
At 3 pm, not quite ready to call it a day, we headed to Claudette to bird the Claudette-Yecla valley. Here we added Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Red-billed Chough, Woodchat Shrike, Raven, Stone Curlew and Greenfinch from the main track. Taking a minor track around the farm buildings we added Lesser Kestrel and flushed about 30 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

 At 5.30pm our tummies were rumbling so we headed back to Gran Alicant. Our trip list now surpassed 100 species in just 2 days!

Day 3 – Morning in the mountains of Maigmo and Montnegre, afternoon at ‘The Clot we opted for a leisurely day in the mountains near Alicante. First stop was Maigmo which has been productive on previous visits. However, it had rained heavily last night and today the wind was gusting with an icy chill so most birds were hunkered down and not showing. We did manage fleeting glimpses of Common Crossbill, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Firecrest and Robin, and we also heard a Wren singing and Great Tit calling.
When we’d had enough of being blasted by the wind at Maigmo we opted for a scenic drive to Tibi Lake and the Montnegre Valley.

Tibi Lake
 At Tibi, a few Griffon Vultures were up in the air, whilst a Peregrine perched on a cliff face waiting for less windy conditions. We ate our picnic lunch overlooking Tibi Lake where the only bird of note was Crag Martin. In Montnegre Valley itself, we saw Blue Rock Thrush chasing off a Black Wheatear, other than that the valley was quiet.
We then spent a couple of hours sitting in the hides at The Clot de Galvany reserve. Here we added White-headed Duck, Teal, Common Sandpiper and Snipe to our trip list and watched as a testosterone-fuelled Coots gathered for a face off.

Day 4 – Looking for larks in the morning, exploring Guadalentin Valley in the afternoon.
We were up early (5 am) to pick up Eddie Walker, one of my birding friends from Guadamar, and set off to explore a promising new patch near Yecla in search of larks.

 We spent some time separating Crested Lark from Thekla Lark, but some birds proved easier than others. Fortunately separating Lesser Short-toed Lark and Greater Short-toed Lark was much easier. As we scanned the vegetation and bare soil patches we picked up Calandra Lark, Whinchat and Woodchat Shrike Bonnell's Warbler but dipped on connecting with Dupont’s Lark. We got lucky with a Golden Eagle that appeared from nowhere over the top of us. also added Dartford Warbler and Sub-alpine Warbler to our trip list.
At 1 pm we moved on to Guadalentin Valley and quickly picked up Spectacled Warbler.

 We crisscrossed the tracks around the arable fields and in doing so flushed Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Little Bustard. Other new birds seen here were Red-rumped Swallow flying along the river bed, Little Ringed Plover feeding in the field reservoirs, and a distant Booted Eagle tucking into a rabbit.
The highlight of our visit to Guadlentin though was a Great Spotted Cuckoo which perched obliging in a tree affording all great views and the opportunity for some full frame photos.

 At 5 pm we decided we had time for a quick stop at Alhama Pools, a green oasis in the middle of a busy industrial estate. Here we saw the common ducks and grebes from the hides and watched as hundreds of swifts, swallows and martins performed their aerial acrobatics feeding on the wing.

Day 5 – Looking for larks (again) in the morning, exploring Argamon in the afternoon.
We left at 6 am and arrived at Cordovilla just before 8 am. Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Serin were calling and a Nightingale was singing. We stretched our legs with a 2½ hour walk amongst the feather-grass looking for Dupont’s Lark. We binned every Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark and Lesser Short-toed lark we saw but drew a blank on our target bird??. Other birds of note in the grassland included numerous  Stone Curlew, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Red-billed Chough and European Bee-eaters. In the adjoining reed beds, we could hear numerous Nightingales plus Cetti’s Warbler and Great Reed Warbler. A Common Redstart perched briefly on a wire fence, as Red-rumped Swallow and Marsh Harrier flew overhead. Disappointed no show, no calls ???? or singing at 10.30am???????? we called a halt to our search for Dupont’s Lark and drove on to Agramon.

 We saw numerous Nightingales as we drove the tracks either side the road bridge over the Segura River.

 Next stop was Salmeron rice fields but the paddies were dry.

 In the adjacent scrub we picked up Northern Wheatear and Black-eared Wheatear, other than that very few birds were present.
Around 1 pm we cut our losses and headed to Petrolia, 90 mins away. En-route we saw Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. At Petrola we picked up a male Garganey skulking in the reeds. Other birds present included Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Gadwall, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank and Black-winged Stilt. A Scare Swallowtail butterfly posed for photos.

At 5 pm we called time and took a different route back from Corral Rubio via La Higuera on the B10 which took us past Laguna del Saladar, a reed-edge lagoon that held White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and well worth further exploration some other time.

Day 6 – Local patch birding around Santa Pola, El Pinet and San Felipe.
We slowed things down a little today after 4 long back-to-back days in the field. We started at San Felipe VC at 8.30am and saw our first Little Bittern of the trip fly over the reed bed. A very obliging Black-necked Grebe in full breeding plumage posed nicely for photos.

 Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Teal, White-headed Duck, Purple Swamphen, Great Reed Warbler, Collared Pratincole were all still present in good numbers. No sign of reported Ballons Crake??  despite our early morning visit

 Out on the reserve itself, we saw our first Little Stint of this trip plus Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt.

At midday, we left San Felipe and drove to the fish farm at El Bosquet. Here we saw 2 x Purple Heron and our first Stonechat. In the distance, we heard then saw 2 Common Cuckoo. Next stops were the palm trees next to the football field to look for Roller, but no joy, and the hides on Vistabello Road which h gave us good views of Black-necked Grebe and White-headed Duck but not much else.
Around 2 pm we decided to head for the Guadamar River estuary and picked up Sanderling and Audouin’s Gull on the beach. At El Pinet, we observed Common Tern and Sandwich Tern on the islands, and Avocet and Greater Flamingo feeding in the lagoon. We then moved on to the back roads around La Marina and had great views of Pied Flycatcher, Bee-eater and Booted Eagle

Pied Flycatcher

As time was drawing on, we decided to head for Santa Pola beach. Here the wind picked up blowing sand into our optics so we quickly bagged Lesser Black-backed Gull and move on to the woods at Carabassi Road.

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

 It was too early in the season for Rufous Bush Chat, but we did manage to connect with Common Redstart and another Pied Flycatcher. As the week had progressed we were seeing more and more migrants which helped boost our trip list. Fingers crossed we’d get a Roller before the end of the week.

Day 7 – a Return visit to the Yecla-Claudette track and Agramon.
An early start on the road by 7 am to the Claudette end of the Yecla-Claudette track. We’d seen 143 different birds so far, and for the first time, our thoughts turned to break through 150. The first hour was very quiet, the cool 12oC temperature meant birds were keeping a low profile. We had good views of Rock Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet but no new birds.

 We re-connected with the Black-eared Wheatear, Little Owl and a distant Golden Eagle but by midday, we’d still not had any new birds.
Thinking our best chance for new birds was a change of habitat, we headed back to the Stone Pine woods at Agramon. Within minutes we picked up our first Jay, things were looking up. There were plenty of Serin, Pallid Swift, House Martin and Red-legged Partridge, but we didn’t see the Black Stork or Egyptian Vulture recently reported in the area??
We moved on to Salmeron and in a large tree in the middle of a field near San Jose farm, we spotted our first Roller.


On scanning the same tree we also picked up our first Golden Oriole! We drove the tracks around the Stone Pines which looked promising but was actually pretty sparse for birds. As we re-joined the main road we picked up our first Woodlark singing from a telegraph wire.


At 2 pm we reached the bridge at Saladar de Agramon where Nightingales were singing but no new birds. We decided to re-programme the satnav for San Pedro on the coast in the hope of picking up a Dunlin or Wood Sandpiper. We drew a blank on both birds but did have good views of Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and Sanderling.


Curlew Sandpiper

Spotted Redshank

Keen to keep moving we continued to Los Balcones near Torrevieja, and successfully picked up Azure-winged Magpie – bird number 148. We dipped on both the Monk Parakeet and Ring-necked Parakeet seen here on previous trips so decided to end the day at ‘The Clot’. We checked out the swampy area at the rear of the reserve, scanning the reeds for a roosting Black-crowned Night Heron but no luck. Overhead, hundreds of Pallid Swift, Common Swift, Barn Swallow and House Martin were busy feeding on mosquitos and midges above the reed bed, joined by a few Whiskered Tern. As we scanned the aerial spectacle we picked out a few Sand Martin – bird number 149!

Cattle Egret

From the hides, the usual ducks, grebes, and egrets were present and with the time approaching 7 pm we called it a day. Discussions over dinner centred on predicting bird 150. Would it be Turtle Dove? or Spotted Flycatcher maybe? Perhaps we could connect with a Penduline Tit? We’d have to wait till tomorrow to find out. Our leisurely ‘go with the flow’ birding week had somehow turned into a full-on bird race, how did that happen?

 San Felipe

Day 8 – Local patch birding in search of bird number 150 – any new bird would do!
Bird 150 came without even leaving the house. I got up early and was reviewing my photos from last night when I noticed that one of my Little Stint photos from San Felipe didn’t look quite right. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a Temminck’s Stint, given away by its characteristic green legs and subtle eye-stripe. Have to admit reaching the 150 climax this way wasn’t as exciting as it would have been identifying the bird in the field, but at least it meant today the pressure was off and every new bird on our final morning of this trip was a bonus bird!

We decided to head straight for San Felipe to see if the Temminck’s was still showing but drew a blank. All other birds seen earlier in the week were still present including this confiding Whinchat.

 We then moved on to the back roads around El Hondo. From an elevated hide we watched Grey and Purple Herons and dozens of Little and Cattle Egret work their way through the marshes, hoping one at least would turn into a Great White Egret, but it wasn’t to be. We heard a distant Cuckoo calling and had good views of Cetti’s Warbler … well good enough to see the bird in full view but each view lasted a millisecond before it disappeared again, way to fast for me to catch a still.
We did add one new bird to our trip list in the form of Reed Warbler, which according to my latest book “Birds of Europe, North Africa and The Middle East” by Frederic Jiguet and Aurelien Audevard (2017) was probably an ‘Ambiguous Reed Warbler’, a newly recognised race in Iberia.

Ambiguous Reed Warbler’

 I will let you look at the photo and decide.
On next to a barley field which had hundreds of Pallid Swift and Common Swift feeding above our heads. Other birds of note included Booted Eagle, Iberian Grey Shrike and European Bee-eater.
Last stop was the Salinas at El Pinet and Santa Pola. Still no Little Tern, Dunlin, Wood Sandpiper or Green Sandpiper, only the same birds as seen earlier in the week. At 12 noon we stopped birding and headed back for lunch.
At the end of the trip, we’d driven 2070km and spent over 70 hours in the field (excluding travel time to/from our first and last location each day), and had seen 151 species in 7½ days. As always, dawn till dusk birding, brilliant company, lots of banter and bucket loads of fun and photos.

Massive thank you to Richard Hanman

Cheers Bryan