The Elliott-Binns & the Wrights visit El Hondo

El Hondo/El Fondo in Alicante is a superb wetland and Bob and Jenny Wright went over with Dave and Gilly, but in return (a) missed the mosquitoes - only one dared to bite Jenny, and (b) they had some good birding. The masses of dead carp that they saw is fairly common in shallow waters in an Andalusian summer, as warm (even hot) water holds less oxygen than cold. The only trouble is that it can possibly cause outbreaks of botulism which affect waterbirds very negatively. Any way, here is the account which Dave sent.

On Tuesday 13th Jully 2010, Bob & Jenny Wright travelled from their home near Malaga to ours in Arboleas. They stopped en route at Las Norias & Cabo de Gata. Bob will no doubt submit a report on his blog :- www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com.

At the crack of the following morning (0530hrs) we departed for El Fondo Bird Reserve near Elche. After a reviving cuppa at Cox we arrived at the North Gate of the reserve at about 0800. The ranger arrived shortly afterwards and let us in, saying we were the only visitors today so had the reserve to ourselves.

Having already seen Cattle Egret and Marsh Harriers at the gate, we added Common and Pallid Swift, Green Sandpiper and Jackdaw by the time we'd driven down to the elevated hide. Thankfully there were no mosquitoes to worry about. From this viewing platform we saw Grey, Purple and Night Herons as well as numerous Little Bitterns. Great Crested and Little Grebes. White-headed Duck. Jenny then spotted two LBJ's in the reeds below us. Moustached Warblers, a first for them both I believe. A juvenile Great Reed Warbler was also seen together with a lot of Reed Warblers. We then walked to the next hide. Gilly guessimated there to be over 1,500 Greater Flamingos. There were also 100's of Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. Surprisingly no little waders at all. Families of Pochard were using the shallow waterway as a nursery. My photo of one such young Pochard is entitled " Swim or sink"!

When we got to the lane leading to the hide in the centre of the reserve we were extremely shocked to see hundreds of large fish, mostly Carp dead or dying in the canal. We later spoke to the Ranger. She said the water was shallow and therefore hot in the oppressive heat. They were dying from a lack of oxygen and the heat.....I suppose thankfully it was not poison.

The canal had numerous Purple, Squacco, Grey and Night Herons picking up the distressed prey. Over the water we could see small numbers of Whiskered and Little Terns feeding. There were a few Shelduck and Shoveler as well as a Black-necked Grebe. I then spotted a very distant grey and black coloured harrier, assuming it to be the male Monty's we'd seen on our previous visit. This was given more credence when we got back to the elevated hide as a female, closely followed by the male Montagu's Harrier flew past. As we waited for our time there to finish, Bob spotted a Purple Gallinule. As it was so hot we ere glad to see the Ranger arrive a bit early so we could "escape"!! We had a quick visit to the Information Centre where we saw a Kentish Plover on the pool....our one and only!!

We hope Bob & Jenny enjoyed their long distance birding. 50 species for the day. Not the best time of year to visit this reserve but still impressive.

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