Eastern Spain, an area Iâ€™ve never visited but with a reputation for good birds got me thinking where to go and where to stay, this was soon settled when I found Olivaramatours on the internet. This is a bird tour/holiday company run by an English couple, Julian (Jules) and Amanda Sykes, in Oliva about half-way between Valencia and Alicante.
The location seemed ideal, they run a guest house, speak English and looking through their website the area held a lot of good birds, even by Spanish standards, this soon made up my mind to give it a go and Iâ€™m glad I did, it really was a great trip.
Booking a cheap flight from Bristol to Valencia with Easyjet and a hire car via Carjet All-inclusive was easy over the internet and getting in touch with Jules sorted out the accommodation, B & B at their guest house.
3rd Mayâ€¦Arrived at Valencia airport mid-afternoon, picked up the hire car and just over an hour later was in Oliva being warmly greeted by Amanda. Jules was in Extremadura on an 8 day tour and wouldnâ€™t be back until the 7th but had left me detailed instructions and maps of several sites in the area â€“ Iâ€™d never met Jules but soon found out this is the sort of thing he does to ensure you have a great holiday. (I must say their kindness, consideration and friendly personalities went a long way towards making this the best trip Iâ€™ve had so far, out of about a dozen).
After dumping the bags and a quick drink itâ€™s off to Pego Marsh, about 10 minutes away, for some birding. Pego Marsh is a large area of reed-beds, rice fields, reedy pools, scrub and agricultural areas with easily driveable tracks giving access to most of the area. Birds are numerous and easily seen at close range, ideal for photography, which was my main reason for the trip.
Apart from the breeding species there is also a good turnover of birds migrating through with something different being seen on virtually every visit. In fact it was such a good area I spent the first 4Â½ days there getting good views of everything I saw and some decent pictures of several good species, including Moustached Warbler, a new bird for me, (this is probably now the easiest place in Spain to see them), also a Red-throated Pipit a good rarity for Spain.
Purple Herons are numerous, seemingly everywhere you look, followed by Squacco Herons, 20+ on one evening in one part of the marsh, a few Grey Herons, Little Bitterns, Little and Cattle Egrets, Greater Flamingos on several days, Purple Gallinules, Water Rails, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebes, Cormorant, Mallard, Red-crested Pochards, 2 Marbled Duck on several days (breeding?), several Marsh Harriers, Osprey, Black Kite, Kestrel, Hobby, Audouinâ€™s 30+, Yellow-legged 100+ and Black-headed Gulls, Whiskered Terns, Little Ringed Plovers, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-winged Stilts, Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Moustached, Savis, Reed and Great Reed, Cettiâ€™s, Fan-tailed, Garden and Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaff, Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, House and Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Nightingales, Woodchat Shrikes, Spotted Flycatchers, Spotless Starlings, Crested Larks, Stonechat, Whinchat (a fall of 20+ birds one day), Yellow and White Wagtails, Kingfishers, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Common, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins, Blackbird, Collared and Turtle Doves, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Common Nightjar and a Red-throated Pipit, which I was lucky enough to find (while Jules was away) and even luckier to get some photos to confirm its identity.
That about covers the first few days from 3rd-7th May. Things got even better from now on thanks to Jules.
8th May. – Jules had a free day today and offered to show me the Valle de Gallinera area, I jumped at it of course. So after meeting a friend of his, Dena, also visiting the area, and a quick look around the marsh seeing the usual birds plus 3 migrating Honey Buzzards we set off.
Driving through some beautiful mountain scenery with Nightingales singing more or less continually we arrived at our first stop, the Golden Eagle site. Hawkeye Jules soon picked up an eagle landing on the cliff-face, giving great views through the scope before taking to the air and being joined by its mate, we then had prolonged aerial views before they eventually disappeared beyond the crags.
Other birds in the area included 2 Red-billed Chough, Kestrel, Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Greenfinch, Cirl Bunting, White Wagtail, Sardinian Warbler and Red-legged Partridge.
A little further up the road we pulled into a garage/restaurant for a cold drink and another scan of the mountains, getting a brief look at one of the eagles again, also Common, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, 4 more Red-billed Choughs, Bee-eaters, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Blackbird.
I was thinking to myself, here we were sitting at a table in a mountain village restaurant, enjoying the sunshine, the scenery and the birds as if weâ€™d known each other for years â€“ I wonder what other hobbies can create such friendship in such a short space of time?
Jules then disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a large box of local cherries so we pigged out on them before departing for a small valley further on.
Birds en-route to the valley â€“ more Nightingales, 2 Bee-eaters on wires beside the road which we had to stop for as they were Denasâ€™ favourite bird, one of mine too, Short-toed Treecreepers singing, Sardinian Warblers, Crested, Coal and Great Tits, Spotted Flycatcher, Serin, Woodlark, Cuckoo, Stonechat and Turtle Dove.
Arriving at the valley almost the first birds we saw were a pair of Golden Orioles flying into some Poplar trees, so we spent some time here and had great views of 2 pairs flying from tree to tree and eventually a male sat out in the open in full view â€“ what a stunning bird they are. A Wryneck put in a brief appearance for Jules while Dena and I only heard it calling, too occupied watching Crag Martins. A male Blue Rock Thrush, Green Woodpecker calling, Crested Tits, Rock Sparrows, Cirl Buntings, Spotted Flycatcher, Serins, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Hoopoe and Grey Wagtail completed our short visit to the excellent Valle de Gallinera, producing more birds than expected on a hot afternoon.
9th May â€“ Pego Marsh again trying to photograph a few more species. A slight hiccup in the weather brought cloud with some light rain, the cloud I didnâ€™t mind it made the day longer for photography, however it cleared to a sunny late afternoon and evening. The cloud and rain certainly accounted for the large numbers of Swifts present today, 700+ mixed Common, Alpine and Pallid, and 100â€™s of hirundines mainly Barn Swallows with some Red-rumped and good numbers of House Martins. 2 Redshanks a Common Sandpiper and Whinchat also seemed new in.
Most of the usual species were on show well and a little drinking spot along the river attracted several Serins, White Wagtail and Kingfisher while a Nightingale sang in full view on overhead wires.
10th May â€“ Jules had a booking today and kindly allowed me to tag along so it was an early start to be in the Alicante area by 9am to pick up Corinna, Geoff and Bob.
First stop was an area of dwarf pines for Rufous Bushchat. On arriving one could be heard and after a short search located singing from the top of a pine. During the next Â½ hour or so 6 or 7 were seen singing from the pines and displaying on the ground, fantastic birds, and another of my favourites. Several Crested Larks, Sardinian Warblers and a Woodchat were also seen.
A short drive brought us to our next stop, the â€˜Clot de Galvanyâ€™ where we did stay a while, in fact the birding was so good we stayed longer than we should have. The lagoon area gave us Little Stints, Kentish and Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Common Sandpiper, Shelduck, Pochard and Red-crested Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Whiskered Terns, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Little owls, Crested Larks, Turtle Doves, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Great Reed and Sardinian Warblers, Green Woodpecker calling, Swifts, Swallows and House Martins.
Walking to the adjacent â€˜Charco de Contactoâ€™ Jules found a female Redstart â€“ the only one of the trip, and at the small pool a pair of displaying Marbled Duck only a few yards away, 2 males and a female White-headed Duck, Shoveler, Pochard and Little Grebes. While I stayed in the hide to photograph the Marbled Ducks (one of my target birds of the trip) the rest of the group walked to another part of the pool, finding 6 male and 2 female White-headed Ducks, 2 Purple Gallinules, Red-rumped Swallow and a Carrion Crow.
Onward again, to the hills above Alcoy where there is a Griffon Vulture re-introduction Scheme in progress. A walk up the track brings you eyeball to eyeball with the Griffons sitting around on the rocks and taking off over your head. Truly wild Griffons join the wing-tagged birds here, with some of each present. What a spectacle to have these huge birds take off in front of you, fly just a few yards over your head then soar effortlessly in the thermals around the mountainside. Ravens put in an appearance, their â€˜croakingâ€™ heard before seeing them, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel out on the hunt and Rock and Cirl Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Black Redstart, Thekla Larks, Great, Coal and Crested Tits, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Chaffinch and Crossbill all trying not to be their next meal. Green Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Mistle Thrush and Alpine Swift seemed fairly safe.
Shortly after leaving this memorable spot a superb Black-eared Wheatear popped up at the side of the road giving excellent views to all.
Back to Alicante area again and the â€˜Santa Polaâ€™ Salinas, only a quick stop but Great White Egret, Little Egrets, numerous Greater Flamingos, Common and Little Terns, Slender-billed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Great Crested Grebes, Turnstone, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Yellow Wagtails and 2 more Marbled Duck were added to the ever-growing list for the day.
A couple of short stops (we were running a bit late now, so many good birds being seen) gave us Roller, Montaguâ€™s Harrier and Cattle Egrets.
It was now time to move into the hills above Crevillente for our evening meal at 6.30 and more importantly, Bonellisâ€™ Eagles. The welcome we received from Jane and Colin, who run the â€˜Finca Bonellisâ€™ Eagleâ€™, was unbelievable, we were greeted like long-lost friends and immediately felt relaxed in their company. A cold beer was also waiting – I donâ€™t think it touched the sides going down.
Almost immediately a male Bonellisâ€™ was in the air and a mad dash to get scopes and cameras out of the car ensued, we neednâ€™t have hurried, after a few minutes it settled on a rock a short distance away from itsâ€™ nest containing a well grown youngster, now past the â€˜downyâ€™ stage and looking very smart and colourful indeed. After fantastic views of the male and the eaglet the female Bonellisâ€™ came into view and flew to the nest with food, then she was in the air again and settled on the cliff-face not far from the male allowing us to make direct comparisons between them â€“ more than we had ever hoped for. We could even see the eye colour and the difference in breast markings.
Amidst all the excitement of the Bonellisâ€™ we also managed to see 2 male Blue Rock Thrushes, Bee-eaters, Red-legged Partridges, Alpine and Common Swifts, Crag Martins, Little Owls and a Scops Owl calling.
It was now time for our meal and we were treated to some excellent home-made soup, (mine tasted all the better for me dropping the pepper grinder into it â€“ raising hoots of laughter from the others of course), followed by tender pork chops and chips, great, beats cheese sandwiches any day. Strawberries and ice cream for dessert and a few bottles of red wine rapidly disappeared. So suitably fed and watered and quite prepared to sit in the evening sun with the peace and quiet of the beautiful scenery all around us we dragged ourselves out of the comfy chairs and set off again, for Eagle Owl this time, our final target of the day.
As dusk was falling, with 2 Black Wheatears, calling Green Woodpecker and Little Owl under our belts Jules picked up an Eagle Owl flying in to settle on a large rock giving us excellent views over the next 10 minutes or so. While watching the owl a Red-necked Nightjar started calling in the distance and then one appeared in flight from the small canyon we had been watching. As often happens when things go your way this was followed by another one flying up from the road in front of us as we were leaving and seen by all in the car headlights.
What an end to a truly fantastic daysâ€™ birding â€“ the quantity and especially the quality of birds seen today made it one of those days Iâ€™ll always remember, and entirely due to all the hard work and exploration of various areas put in by Jules over the last couple of years.
But the day is not over yet, after dropping off Corinne, Bob and Geoff back in Alicante Jules had made arrangements for us to return to â€˜Finca Bonellisâ€™ Eagleâ€™ for the night and have a look around the area and a couple of sites at Alicante tomorrow. So we ended this memorable day sitting on the patio with Jane and Colin, drinking red wine and getting to know each other better, all in the cool of late evening, stars and moon shining above, peaceful surroundings, just insects and a Scops Owl calling in the background â€“ perfection.
Footnoteâ€¦anyone wishing to stay at â€˜Finca Bonellisâ€™ Eagleâ€™ can do so by contacting Jules. If you enjoy good company, good food, magnificent scenery and a relaxing atmosphere treat yourself to a few days here, have a swim in the pool a few beers and relax. You will be exceptionally well looked after by Jane and Colin.
Pickups can be arranged from Alicante Airport with them so you donâ€™t even need a car. Iâ€™m certainly going back. Sorry if this sounds like an advert but it really is a unique place and Jane and Colin are such friendly people I just felt I had to share it.
11th May â€“ Up at 7am after sleeping like a log. A mug of tea provided by Colin got me going so I had a short walk around the immediate area before breakfast, seeing Sardinian and Dartford Warblers, Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eaters, Thekla Larks, Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Wheatears, Common and Alpine Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, a Scops Owl calling and the Bonellisâ€™ Eagles â€“ not a bad way to start the day is it.
After weâ€™d had a good breakfast, no wine with it just coffee, Jules and I set off for the perimeter of El Hondo where we located 2 pair of Rollers, Montaguesâ€™ Harrier, Pratincole, Cattle Egrets, Spotless Starlings, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Crested Larks, Great Reed and Fan-tailed Warblers, Turtle Doves etc.
From here we moved onto a small area of the Santa Pola Salinas to try for some photos of Slender-billed Gulls, Avocets, Little and Common Terns and Kentish Plover, this was managed quite easily, the birds being close and not too wary. Also seen in the area were 10 Little Stints, several Curlew Sandpipers in various stages of summer plumage, Sanderling, Yellow-legged Gulls, Whiskered Terns, scores of Avocets with chicks, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, thousands of Greater Flamingos, Crested Larks, Sardinian Warblers and Southern Grey Shrikes..
We left here about 1.30pm having decided to head back to Oliva as it had been a long day yesterday and Jules had done a hell of a lot of driving. We both needed to put our feet up, sort out our notes of what weâ€™d seen etc. and for me re-live the brilliant day yesterday. Jules was also trying to get his trip report for Extremadura written up. Busy man is Jules, I donâ€™t know how he manages it, Iâ€™d be knackered before now.
Another Roller was seen on overhead wires shortly after Alicante.
12th May â€“ An easier day today, starting with the morning at Pego Marsh, fast becoming my favourite spot. Most of the usual birds were showing well although the non-breeding waders seemed to have moved on. A Peregrine was a new bird at the marsh for me.
I fancied another trip to the Valle de Gallinera so set off for there about midday. Stopping at the Golden Eagle site I couldnâ€™t find any eagles but did manage a male Golden Oriole sitting right out in the open, giving fantastic views for several minutes perched and flying from tree to tree singing. Woodchat Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Blue Rock Thrush, Serin and Alpine Swifts made the stop well worthwhile though.
At the small valley further along things were even better than the last visit â€“ Corn and Cirl Buntings, several Melodious, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Blackcaps, a pair of Woodchats courtship feeding, 10+ Golden Orioles spread along a Â½ mile stretch of the track, Blue Rock Thrushes with fledged young, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Swifts, Crag and House Martins, Spotted Flycatchers, Hoopoes, Rock Sparrows, Crested Larks, Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Wren, Crested and Great Tits, Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Turtle Doves, Nightingales and Ravens. A great area to be in, well stocked with birds and ripe cherry trees!!
Later that evening Jules suggested going looking for Red-necked Nightjars at a nearby site he had found. We set off at 10.30. This was his first visit for the year so we were both delighted when he picked one up in the car headlights sitting in the middle of the track â€“ the first Iâ€™ve seen close-up for over 20 years. What a beautiful bird they are, their markings must count as a work of art. We saw 3 sitting along the track that night, one of which I managed to get some photos of at close range, and 1 possibly 2 others hawking moths. What a finish to another great day.
13th May â€“ Today Jules was picking up some birders at Valencia airport for one of his short breaks and kindly offered to drop me at Moro Marsh for a few hours. A great reserve with loads of birds again, although I didnâ€™t see too many of them, deciding to spend my time photographing rather than watching and you canâ€™t really do both. At one end of the reserve there is a real hotspot with breeding colonies of Pratincoles, Little and Common Terns and Bee-eaters and this is where I spent my time. However on the walk to and from there I did manage to see Purple Herons, Little Bitterns, Little Egrets, 5 Marbled Duck, Pochard and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwall, Great Reed and Fan-tailed Warblers, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Yellow-legged Gulls, Whiskered Terns, Turtles Dove etc.
(Jules did better than me having also 3 Red-knobbed Coot, Short-toed Eagle and Cettiâ€™s Warbler).
On returning to the car (late, but forgiven) and meeting Adrian & Joan, from Bristol, we set off for the airport to pick up Paul, whoâ€™s plane was about to land, then back to Oliva.
Pego Marsh was calling again so it was there for the rest of the day. Moustached, Savi’s, Reed, Great Reed and Fan-tailed Warblers were all singing away as usual. Squacco, Purple & Grey Herons, Little & Cattle Egrets, Red Crested Pochards, Coot, Moorhen, Whiskered Terns and Black-winged Stilts. Little Grebe feeding chicks, a Little Bittern giving a display flight â€“ I never realised they had one until now, Audouin’s & Yellow legged Gulls were beginning to settle down in one of the rice-fields for the night and the pair of Marbled Duck put in an appearance after a couple of days of not being seen.
14th May â€“ Today was the start of Adrian, Joan and Paulâ€™s trips and once again Jules was kind enough to let me join in. Today it was inland to the Petrola area for Bustards, Sandgrouse etc.
Jules knowledge of the area soon had us onto Calandra Larks – virtually everywhere, and Crested Larks. Then a pair of Stone Curlews calling. In a cereal field at the end of the track 2 Little Bustards flew up in front of us, giving brief but good views of this scarcer of the two Bustards in this area. On the way back to the car Jules shouted â€œPin-tailed in flightâ€ and then â€œ2 Black-bellied Sandgrouseâ€ upon which we all got onto the birds as they joined each other in the air, you could make out the differences between them even at distance, excellent. We moved to the area where they seemed to have come from and found 4 more Black-bellied, on the ground this time feeding. Through the scope you could see quite a lot of the feather detail of these handsomely marked birds. Several Mistle Thrushes were also feeding in the field.
On moving a short distance along the road Jules picked up 2 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse feeding and was able to manoeuvre the car to a position that gave us really good views of them. This was going to be another good day â€“ first stop and 3 of everybodyâ€™s target species in the bag â€“ well not literally in the bag, you know what I mean.
Moving on to Corral Rubio and driving the tracks towards Petrola added a solitary female Great Bustard standing in the middle of a field, followed by a group of 20 male Great Bustards in all their splendour majestically strolling over their territory. Another target bird well seen.
Other birds in the area include – Skylark, Short toed and Calandra Larks, Rock & House Sparrows, Common Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Kestrel, Lapwings, Linnets, Magpies, Carrion Crows and Corn Buntings.
Another bonus was the sight of a False Smooth Snake sunning itself on a rock.
After lunch we visited Chinchilla Lagoon seeing Curlew, 2 Wood Sandpipers, Ruff, Little Stints, Redshank, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Lapwings, Black winged Stilts, Avocets, Whiskered Terns, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Mallard, Coot, Pallid and Common Swift.
At Petrola Lagoon many of the same species were present plus 2 Black Terns, 10+ Gadwall, Little Ringed Plovers, 20+ Greater Flamingos, Shelducks, Little Owl, Tree Sparrows, Yellow and White Wagtails.
Slowly we made our way back to the main road seeing Lesser Kestrel, 2 more Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Red-legged Partridges, Hoopoe and Northern Wheatear on the way.
Another excellent day in a new area.
15th May â€“ Today it was an early start to the Alicante area. Jules dropped me off at the Santa Pola Salinas for a bit more photography while he guided Adrian, Joan and Paul to the areas we visited on the 10th, Clot de Galvany etc. I enjoyed 3 hours of photography while they enjoyed some really good birds again â€“ Rufous Bushchat, Marbled and White-headed Ducks, Garganey, Purple Gallinule, Pallid Swift, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Southern Grey Shrikes etc.
Present at the Salinas were â€“ Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderling, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers, Greater Flamingos, 2 Purple Herons, Little Egrets, Common, Little and Whiskered Terns, min. 40 Slender-billed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 Southern Grey Shrikes, Sardinian Warblers and Crested Larks.
After a relaxing and cooling snack at the beach we headed for the perimeter of El Hondo, 5 Rollers, 2 pairs of Montaguâ€™s Harrier, Kestrels, Pratincole, Grey Heron, Cattle Egrets, several Lesser Short-toed and Crested Larks, Reed, Great Reed and Fan-tailed Warblers, Turtle Doves, Corn Bunting and Cuckoo was our reward.
Inland now to â€˜Finca Bonelliâ€™s Eagleâ€™ and another of Jane and Colinâ€™s excellent meals (and unlimited wine and beer of course), and the star bird of the day Bonelliâ€™s Eagle. A quick flash of disappointment showed on everyoneâ€™s faces upon hearing the eaglet had left the nest but Adrian quickly picked up an adult flying into the canyon carrying food, a lizard or snake. It landed on the cliff and started to prepare the food upon which the eaglet popped into view on top of a small bush a few feet away. When the adult moved away down it came for its meal. Fascinating stuff.
Soup and roast chicken tonight followed by strawberries and ice cream, interspersed by beer and wine – I could soon get used to this. Joan is a vegetarian so Colin had made a huge pizza for her.
A bit of armchair watching from the patio produced 3 Black Wheatears, 2 Blue Rock Thrushes, Thekla larks, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallows, Sardinian Warblers, Common and Alpine Swifts and the Scops Owl still calling.
Eventually we had to leave, Eagle Owl awaited. So saying our fond goodbyes to Jane and Colin we set off for Elche and the Eagle Owl site.
As dusk fell Adrian picked up an Eagle Owl landing on a large rock in front of us, in full view. Everyone had good scope views of it for several minutes before it took off and disappeared over the hill.
Red-necked Nightjar made its presence known by its call again.
Our last stop on the way home was near Oliva where we watched 3 Red-necked Nightjars, at close range, sitting on the track in front of the car. A fitting finale to another great days birding.
16th May â€“ Last day for me today, back home to cold, grey rainy weather tomorrow â€“ wow! something to really look forward too!! It was also the last day of Adrian, Joan and Paulâ€™s 3 day, 4 night short break, theyâ€™d been really good company, enjoying the birding, and a good laugh, as much as I did â€“ if any of you are reading this I wish you well and hope to meet you again in the future.
Back to birding, today was a trip to the Valle de Gallinera followed by the Vulture colony.
First stop the Golden Eagle site, the Golden Oriole from my previous visit was still putting on a fantastic show, sitting out in the open, short flights from tree to tree and singing constantly, but this time it was joined by a Wryneck and a Woodchat Shrike â€“ all three sitting in the same small tree together, whatâ€™s the chances of that happening again?
Other birds seen include â€“ Jay, Red-billed Chough, Cuckoo, 2 Bee-eaters and a Hoopoe sitting on overhead wires a few feet from each other, Serins, Nightingale, Cirl Bunting, Turtle Doves, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Alpine Swifts. As we were thinking of leaving Jules picked up the pair of Golden Eagles rising into the air and giving us a good display before disappearing over the crags.
A little further up the valley Joan saw a large raptor go over the car, luckily there was a convenient lay-by we could pull into and get good but brief views of another Bonelliâ€™s Eagle â€“ great stuff again.
Continuing on to the small valley of my two previous visits we had one of those magical spells where birds seemed everywhere and you didnâ€™t know which way to look first. Black-eared Wheatear on a telegraph pole, Rock Sparrows carrying food to their nests, Melodious Warblers singing, Cirl and Corn Buntings joining in the chorus, Cuckoo and several more Golden Orioles doing their bit, Hoopoes hoo-poopooing, 2 Wrynecks chasing one another plus another one sunbathing in the top of a dead tree, Spotted Flycatchers, Sardinian Warblers, Bee-eaters, Stonechats, Grey Wagtail in the stream and Crag Martins in the air, all this from the one spot on the road â€“ everyone left on a real high.
On now to the hills of Alcoy for the Vulture area. Having been up to see the vultures, etc on the 10th I thought Iâ€™d try the surrounding area while the others went for their treat. A walk along the road for Â½ mile or so revealed some really good mixed habitat and good birds, I had excellent views of several Short-toed Treecreepers, Crested, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Cirl Buntings, Woodlark, Serins, Goldfinch, Chaffinch (not a common bird in this area), Crossbill and Sardinian Warblers.
By now it was late afternoon and time to head back to Oliva, do a bit of packing, scrape off the whiskers etc.
I couldnâ€™t resist a last evening at Pego Marsh to pay my respects for a good time there. Brilliant place.
The holiday gave me lots of birds (162 species without really trying) and photographs (51 species). â€œIâ€™ll be backâ€ as the saying goes.
One final word or two â€“ if anyone fancies a really good birding holiday with lots of good quality birds have a look at Jules website http://www.olivaramatours.com/ and give yourself a treat. If youâ€™re a bird photographer head for the area straight away, thereâ€™s scores of birds waiting to be photographed and many of them are easy.