Wednesday, 14 August 2013

El Hondo or El Fondo or just El Magnifico

Ever since we booked our holiday, I've been secretly itching to visit one of Spain's greatest wetland reserves - El Hondo (or El Fondo if you're a local). So when the opportunity presented itself I was in the hire car and away - and I didn't get lost!

Close to the village of San Filipe Neri, I chose the visitors centre entrance in the south-west corner of the reserve to start my walk, as I knew this entrance was always open (even if the visitors centre was closed). There are other areas of this very large reserve which are open to the public but these have restricted access on certain days of the week (Click here for access and opening times).

Arriving at the car park, you know you're onto a good thing when there are two species of Shrike on the perimeter fence as you pull up!

Birding, Photography, El Hondo, Costa Blanca, Spain

And the rest of the reserve didn't disappoint - the whole place was teaming with Bitterns, Herons, Egrets and Ibis. I could list them all, but let's just say I had nine different species! Purple Swamphens crashed through the reeds with young in tow, Great Reed Warblers were numerous, as were Fan-tailed Warblers or if you prefer Zitting Cisticola (daft name). A male Montagu's Harrier drifted over the reedbed spooking a family of Black-winged Stilts, a Greenshank and several Little Ringed Plover into action, whilst Bee-eaters called overhead - not knowing where to look next, I continually scanned through the numerous ducks searching for both the White-headed and Marbled variety!

Birding, Photography, El Hondo, Costa Blanca, Spain

A pair of Collared Pratincoles noisily flew past me giving some stunningly close views, and then as luck would have it they decided to land just a few metres away on the dirt track ahead of me - I then realised why, I could hear the sound of a couple of youngsters calling for their parents, as I waited, a recently fledged bird and its slightly older sibbling came out of hiding from the low vegetation and into view.

Birding, Photography, El Hondo, Costa Blanca, Spain

Juvenile, El Hondo, Costa Brava, Spain

And just when I thought I'd missed the two species of duck El Hondo is famous for - bingo! A Marbled Duck casually came into view, swimming right passed the hide (I eventually picked out another three birds) but sadly the infamous White-tailed Duck never materialised!

El Hondo, Costa Brava, Spain

Knowing that I was up against it time wise, as I was expected back at the villa for lunch and an appointment with my new best friend San Miguel! I reluctantly dragged myself away from this amazing reserve - vowing to return again. On that note, I'm hoping to return to this region of Spain in the future and maybe spend a little time in the mountains and upland steppe land in search of Vultures, Eagles, Bustards and Sandgrouse - bring it on!!

Lastly, of all the photographs I took on holiday this had to be my personal favourite (apart from the one the waiter took of the family together) - I just happen to come across this adult Whiskered Tern feeding on a small body of water, near a golf course whilst out driving one day - El Magnifico!

Adult, Birding, Photography, El Hondo, Costa Blanca, Spain

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