Another post so soon after the last you may be thinking - but it's only to let you know of another couple of visits to the PN of El Hondo, Elche (Alicante).
If you remember, in my last post I mentioned about being unable to get into the first hide on the south side of the reserve, due to the access being flooded and us not having wellies. Well one of the reasons for wanting to go into the hide is that it's from there that amongst all the other ducks, a male Ring-necked Duck (an American vagrant) has been seen lately.
Well the 'twitcher' inside me got the better of me, and so on Wednesday afternoon, I made my way back up to El Hondo, this time with wellies in the boot of the car! Taking much the same route as we had on Saturday morning, but with no-where near the number or quality of birds, I got to the hide on a windy afternoon, got the 'scope out and scanned through the ducks. And - NOTHING!!
A good group of Pochard and White-headed Ducks, a few Shoveler, Black Necked Grebes, Little Grebes, 14 Tufted Ducks of which three were males, but no sign of the Ring-necked! As I'd left my car, talking to some people who'd been in the hide for a while I was told that it hadn't been seen all afternoon and this was confirmed by some Dutch birders in the hide when I got there.
Feeling SLIGHTLY disappointed (using ironic english understatement here), I stayed till it was almost dark, watching numerous Marsh Harriers zooming around over the reeds, and then I made my way back down to Cartagena.
The forecast for the next few days was for overcast, cold and windy weather, so when I got up the next day and saw that there were blue skies and not much wind, (yes, OK, it WAS cold), I was tempted to have another go.
Well I'm easily tempted when it comes to birding, so 10 o'clock saw me setting off again, arriving at 11:15. I went straight to the first hide, and could immediately see that there were many more ducks than the previous day. The wind started to get up, and I got worried that this might make them hide in the reeds, but no, they stayed out (although tucked in on the other side of the lagoon at the base of the reeds), and scanning through them, yes, that EUREKA moment - one of the male 'Tufted's' had pale grey flanks with a contrasting white crescent at the front - not a Tufted at all but the Ring-necked Duck - the first one I've ever seen in Spain and my first since January 1978! I watched it on and off for about an hour and a half, trying to take photos and video, but it kept itself in with the other ducks a long way off, asleep for most of the time, so my only photos and video are record photos.
Some of the ducks, with the Ring-necked centre with its back to the camera ...
... and if you´ve got a minute, you can play 'spot the Ring-necked' in the video
One of the few birds that came over to my side of the lake - Little Grebe
As I was up there, and now with the pressure off, I had a quick look round the rest of the reserve, but all was much as on Saturday, and today there was heavy machinery working around the visitors centre, so not much chance of seeing anything different, although the Bluethroat that kept a few feet ahead of me when I walked back to my car from the south hide was nice.
The Bluethroat that was hopping in and out of the hedgerow ahead of me
From the visitors centre pool, three birds of the same family - Gallinule, Moorhen and Coot