15 December, El Fondo (Alicante), Arboleas Birding Goup

A brave and fruitful excursion by the Arboleas Group from Almería to El Fondo (a.k.a. El Hondo) a great reserve sadly menaced in Alicante . The Great Spotted Eagle to which Dave refers, Tonn, is spending his second winter in the area having been tracked by GPS satellite for two winters now from Estonia. Another, immature bird, is reported to be in the area also.

I have taken up Dave's concerns about the status of the reserve and have just spoken with the SEO's Valencia office, which is in the midst of removals to a new address! However, I have extracted a promise that they will

It was very cold and dark when four members of the group left Arboleas at 5.30 am. We needed to get to the north gate of the El Fondo Parc Natural, Elche by 8.15 am when the park rangers would let us in. Access is allowed by appointment only on Wednesdays and Saturdays only from 8.15 to 11.15 am. We met up with two other members for breakfast before gaining access. The rangers were waiting for us with the gates open. We slowly travelled in convoy along the track beside a shallow canal. Within seconds we disturbed numerous Grey Herons which flew away. Not 400 metres in I spotted a bird of prey in the branches of a dead eucalyptus tree. It was what we had come to see. A Great Spotted Eagle. It was first light, so the photos I took weren't brilliant, but you could clearly see the attached radio antenna. The eagle, named Tonn, winters here, having travelled all the way from its native Estonia.

We carried on down to the covered elevated hide where we were joined by a local birder, the only other visitor to the reserve that day. From there we could see over a large expanse of reedbeds and lakes. Three Booted Eagles perched themselves on one of the dead eucalyptus trees. Marsh Harriers were quartering over the reed tops and during the day we must have seen at least 10-12 individuals. An Osprey was spotted sitting on a post.
Red-crested Pochards were seen in small numbers. A Kingfisher stopped briefly on the wooden railings beneath us. A Little Bittern sounded off, but wasn't seen, as were Cetti's Warblers. We then walked to a hide which overlooked a vast shallow lake. On the way we saw a Southern Grey Shrike chasing after a Snipe which was feeding on the track ahead of us. A pair of Black-tailed Godwits flew over as did a Green Sandpiper later.

From this elevated position there were huge flocks of wildfowl. I would estimate over 500 Teal, 100 Pintail, 100 Shoveler and good numbers of Shelduck and Mallard. Didn't see any Wigeon, White-headed Duck or Marbled Duck. Two Ospreys were spotted on posts. Numerous Little Grebes were evident with a few Black-necked. Hundreds of Crag Martins were noted as was a flock of Avocets and a single Lapwing flew over. We also heard, and Gilly spotted a Reed Warbler.

On the way back a Bluethroat was on the track.
We got back to the original hide. The local birder had seen a couple of Little Bitterns, a pair of Penduline Tits and a small contingent of Bearded Reedlings. A late House Martin flew by and a Purple Gallinule was just visible in the reeds. At our allotted departure time we drove round to the information centre. We added Common Buzzard and Hoopoe to the list, plus saw a flock of 27 Lapwing on the wheat field. We ended up with 53 species. The weather was reasonably kind to us with only a couple of showers whilst in the covered hides.

This is obviously a seriously important bird habitat all year round. It is still under serious threat from pollution, shooting water being extracted for irrigation. I implore the SEO and other organizations to exert
extreme pressure to protect this gem of a site. It needs to be compulsory purchased from its owners if they don't comply with the needs of the 100s of 1,000s of birds that live or pass through.

I have taken up Dave's concerns about the status of the reserve and have just spoken with the SEO's Valencia office, which is in the midst of removals to a new address! However, I have extracted a promise that they will e-mail me with details of the reserve, the problems both within the limits and without and when all is received and I have translated the important parts it will be published in a special blog.

It will then be up to your good selves, dear readers out there in the ether of cyber-space, to write to the SEO Valencia office expressing your concerns, preferably stating at the end that you give them carte blanche = carta blanca (a lot of foreign here!) to use your communication as they think fit. The SEO is on the patronato, the sort of running committee, and have managed to stop some of the larger problems.

No hay comentarios: