31st July - Weather: Sky clear but hazy, wind F1 NE, temp. 30ºC. 17:35 – 21:20.
1st August – Weather: Sky clear but hazy, very humid, wind SE F1-2; 27 – 33ºC. 11:10 – 15:30.
Having received an e-mail from a fellow birdwatcher who has been covering the Salinas on a regular basis, to say that he’d seen a Red-necked Phalarope the day before (30th July), I had yet another look at the Salinas to search for it. I had no luck with the phalarope, and had pretty much the same species I’ve been seeing of late at the Salinas.
One of the now quite common Ruff
Ruff in flight, showing its tail pattern
Also zipping over the lagoons, one of a number of adult Black Terns, in moult
Time for a rest for some Red-rumped Swallows
I decided to try at the southern end of the Salinas, taking the walk known at ‘La Mota’ – a 2-3 km. walk each way along the wall that divides the Salinas from the Mar Menor. Here I had several small groups of waders, principally Curlew Sandpiper, but also a few Dunlin in breeding plumage, plus Little Stints and Kentish Plovers. Overhead was a cacophony of calls from terns, Common, Sandwich, Gull-billed and Little. In the lagoon where the Black Necked Grebes congregate, their numbers were up to 53. But still no sign of the Red-necked Phalarope!
Along the 'Mota', adult Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin together
and a Little Stint
Adult Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Note how red the Little Stint looks - something that caught me out a few years ago, thinking of Red-necked Stint
This comical looking little chap is actually a Kentish Plover!
Getting home quite late, on checking my e-mails I saw I had one from the person who had originally found the phalarope yesterday, to say that late on he’d been in the area where I’d been to begin with today, and that the phalarope had showed for a short time in with a group of Black-headed Gulls!
So, another trip was called for! I re-arranged my work plans for the next day, and arrived at the salinas just after 11am. On parking my car, I had a quick scan around with binoculars, and there, across the road in the distance on one of the lagoons was the unmistakable outline of the bird I was looking for, a Red-necked Phalarope. Getting my ‘scope and tripod out of the boot, I set it up, and saw… nothing! In the time it had taken me to set up the scope, the bird had flown!
I spent the next few hours walking up and down the road searching for it, taking various photos of waders (including of a Dunlin in breeding plumage which when I downloaded it onto my computer at home, saw that it was colour ringed and that I could read the ring – originally ringed 2 years before on the 27th July 2010 as an adult close to Gdansk on the Baltic Sea in Poland).
General view over a couple of the lagoons
This particular lagoon was chock a block with Greater Flamingos
And the walls dividing the lagoons covered in Little Terns
With other Little Terns fishing for their young
Other birds seen included Little Stints
Black Winged Stilts
and adult Dunlins, including a colour ringed one
The odd Common Sandpiper showed itself too
Almost giving up as it was by now getting very hot and I was getting hungry, one last scan around the first lagoon coming onto the Salinas, and there it was! And quite close to the road. I settled down to watch and photograph it (although the sun was against me), and carried on watching it feeding and preening for the next hour and a half.
Finally, what I had been looking for - the Red Necked Phalarope
She seemed very wary of the Black Winged Stilt
But did eventually come close enough for a couple of decent photos
Success at last – brilliantly close views and some not too bad photos considering the position of the sun. I left when the heat and hunger got the better of me, the phalarope still paddling around a large group of flamingos.
Black Necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Swift (Apus apus)
Iberian Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)