Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Alicante birding and walking 2015

Last week's family trip to the Alicante area gave just a few occasions to do a little bit of bird watching. Compared to our visit two years ago (same time of the year) there were far fewer commoner migrants making their way north. Just an odd Swallow and Sand Martin and a widespread sprinkling of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs soldiered through. Alicante area has a serious drought situation and the surrounding counrtryside has little replenishment to offer for passage birds moving through - there's little greenery to be seen away from the irrigated Orange Grooves. Walking in the mountains behind Benidorm, the temperature was considerably colder than on the coast, and whilst there were plenty of wild flowers and Almond Blossom to see, I didn't see any insect activity in six hours of walking, leaving me to marvel at the audious travels our spring migrants are presently making.

For those that have some 'real' bird watching time in Alicante, there are some great bird reserves to visit at this time of year, especially El Hondo. Even on our brief visit here, plenty of raptors on the wing even in winter.

For speed and camera fun, my favorite area is La Manga at San Pedro salt pans near Murcia. Here, Flamingos, Avocets, and Stilts can be very confiding. Our visit this year was a little disappointing, with less waders and Slender Billed Gulls around, and the higher water levels on the more accessible viewing areas displaced the birds tmaking them more difficult to photograph. Still, the mixture of exotics such as Greater Flamingos and large variety of waders, gulls and terns is a fantastic spectacle to see, even in February.

View over-looking San Pedro salt pans.

Black Winged Stilts are common and confiding here.

Kentish Plovers were never far away on the salt pans and beaches.

Ready for the breeding season, a Little Egret on the beach.
Juvenile Greater Flamingo.
On my two brief visits the adult birds were just a little too distant for more dramatic images.

Sub adult Booted Eagle
Away from casual birding, we walked in the Crevillente area for one day and also for a day in Quatretondeta, both easy drives from Alicante. Both areas are spectacular with very few visitors - you feel you have the mountains to yourself.

Lewis, high in Crevillente mountains. No sign of the resident Bonelli's Eagles this time.

The 'flash' of water in the background is the El Hondo nature reserve, a 1200 hectare reserve

The limestone peaks of the Quatretondeta mountains.

In February, Gorse is in flower, but the temperaturewas not warm enough for insects.

Els Frares pinnacles at Quatretondeta.

Bird-wise, Choughs on the peaks, Cirl Buntings below, little else in between. Bird of the day was a male Hen Harrier that worked its way through the Almond and Olive trees.


Clare Gillatt said...

Fabulous photos - were posting at the moment if you're in skype us.

Steve Pearson said...

Who's that tall bloke? Can't be Lewis :) Lovely sharp pics btw