Friday, 29 August 2014

A morning at San Pedro salinas.

Yesterday morning (Thursday, 28th August) I was all set for another morning in the office, when I received a ‘whatsapp’ that changed all my plans.  It was from a friend Paul, another ‘guirri’ birder who lives just south of Cartagena.  He was at the Salinas at San Pedro del Pinatar, and had just discovered a bird that I was particularly keen to see – a Red-necked Phalarope.  This is a species that is still considered a rarity here in Spain although I think that might soon change as they are now seen annually, normally at the delta del Ebro or in Cadiz, but the Salinas at San Pedro have also had their fair share, although last year there were none.  They are normally seen at any time from mid July to the end of November, the early birds being adults that sometimes stay around quite a while to moult.

I zoomed over there just as fast as my old jalopy could carry me, and met up with Paul at around 10-30.  The Phalarope was the first bird that could be seen, very close in and not at all bothered by the presence of humans or the continuous noise of traffic, although every time a lorry went past, it took fright and flew a few metres, but then returned to the same place.  It was a young bird, and thinking about it, its lack of fear of humans could well be because we were the first ones it had seen, having been born in the arctic.  I stayed quite a while, and had a little look around the rest of the Salinas.  There had definitely been some sort of arrival of waders, as there were quite a few Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin, Little Stints, Redshanks and Spotted Redshanks about, and in the last lagoon on the left (which abuts to the carpark), many Sanderling and a few Ringed Plovers, plus more Dunlin and Little Stints.

The wonderful thing about being there on a weekday morning is the lack of people bothering the birds, so some of them were most obliging when it came to taking photos.  Here a selection of the photos I took.

 A bird to put a smile on your face - Red-necked Phalarope

And a few more photos!

Here with a Dunlin in full breeding plumage ...

... and here with an adult Curlew Sandpiper

The Dunlin was quite keen on the area ...

... even though at one stage it got stuck in the mud!

A Common Redshank that dropped into the bay ...

... as did a few Curlew Sandpipers

On the edge of the next lagoon, a Little Stint was feeding (adult moulting into winter plumage) ...

 ... and a couple of Spotted Redshank and Black Winged Stilts were hanging around ...

 ... sometimes looking like giant phalaropes swimming in the water ...

... and away we go ...

... flushed by this Little Egret

Leaving the Salinas at around 1pm, on my way back to Los Belones, I called in at the farm reservoirs near San Javier airport to see how the Black Terns were doing.  I counted approximately 30 of them (difficult to tell exactly, as they tend to get up in the air at the first sight of someone, and some fly around the other lagoons while others head off, presumably for San Pedro).  The only other birds of note there were a couple of Little Ringed Plovers.



  1. Buena esa especie, Richard. Tu cara de felicidad lo dice todo jaja. A ver si aguanta unas semanas y puedo bajar para verlo.
    Un abrazo!!!

    1. Gracias Gabriel - si, uno de mi favoritos especies dentro mi favorito grupo de aves, las limicolas. Y el primero que he visto desde hace ya dos años.

  2. Lovely entrance,,,full of great waders that here in NAvarra are difficult to detect in the migratory pass towards south.
    Saludos camperos!