Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Valencian Short Break

25th Sept - 1st Oct 2010

Report by Julian Sykes with Elizabeth Johnson, Martin & Shirley Gostling

This was not a conventional short break by everyone as Martin & Shirley were combining it with a couple of extra days sightseeing and late summer sun. As a consequence they arrived into Valencia a day earlier than Elizabeth so we visited a wetland site on the way back to Oliva. The following day Elizabeth was flying into Alicante so she and I spent half a day around this area. The following four and a half days were all spent together visiting the best places in the Valencia, Alicante and Albacete regions. It was a pretty amazing few days with no fewer than four national rarities seen during the short break, which included hybrid Western Reef Heron x Little Egret, Ruppell’s Vulture, Pectoral Sandpiper and 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Also in addition to this, during the week we managed to find 26 species of wader, which is testament to the richness and diversity of this area.


25th September – Meet Martin & Shirley at Valencia Airport then visit the Tancat de Ratla before returning to the pension.

26th September – Meet Elizabeth at Alicante Airport then visit the Santa Pola Salinas, Vistabella Road (El Hondo reserve) and Pego Marsh before returning to Oliva.

27th September – Pre-breakfast visit to Pego Marsh ringing station then a Valencia Day to Cullera rice-fields, Raco d’Olla reserve, Tancat de Ratla and the Albufera d’Valencia.

28th September – Local Day to Oliva Beach, Pego Marsh, Vulture Feeding Station (Alcoy) and the Vall de Gallinera.

29th September – Albacete Day to Corral Rubio, Petrola Agricultural Fields, Petrola Lagoon and Higuela Lagoon.

30th September – Alicante Day to Santa Pola Beach, Santa Pola Salinas, El Pinet, El Hondo and the Crevillente Hills

1st October – Return Elizabeth to Alicante Airport

Below is a species list for all things identified with some extra text for the birds.


Little Grebe 
Seen on most freshwater wetlands during week
Great Crested Grebe
Most open waters with 20+ @ Santa Pola Salinas
Black necked Grebe
20+ @ Petrola Lagoon on the 29th
Scopoli’s Shearwater 
10+ seen from Oliva Beach on the 28th
Atlantic Gannet
3 seen from the beach at El Pinet on 30th
Great Cormorant
Seen mostly at Santa Pola Salinas
Mediterranean Shag
3 seen from Santa Pola beach on the 30th
Grey Heron
Good numbers seen around most wetlands
Purple Heron
Single seen at Pego Marsh on the 28th
Little Egret
Seen on most days in good numbers
Cattle Egret 
Seen on most days around suitable wetlands
Great White Egret
1 at Santa Pola Salinas on the 26th
W. R. Heron x Little Egret
A sighting of one at Santa Pola Salinas on 30th
Little Bittern
1 male seen by J.S. & M.G. on the 25th
Greater Flamingo
1000+ at S. P. Salinas, 100+ at Petrola Lagoon
Common Shelduck
Singles seen at S. P. Salinas & Coral Rubio pool
Common Pochard
Seen on 3 days including Santa Pola & Coral Rubio
Eurasian Teal
30+ on El Hondo reserve
4 on seasonal pool at Coral Rubio
Seen on most wetlands
Northern Shoveler
Seen on most wetlands
Red Crested Pochard
Several seen on pools around Coral Rubio
Ferruginous Duck
A good find of 2 drakes on a pool outside Coral Rubio
White headed Duck
A good find of 3 drakes on Higuela Lagoon
1 on Pego Marsh on 28th & 3 around El Hondo on 30th
Ruppell's Vulture
Incredibly one amongst the feeding frenzy at the VFS
Eurasian Griffon Vulture
50+ at the Alcoy Feeding Station on the 28th
Western Marsh Harrier
Seen every day in small numbers
1 at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Common Buzzard
Several seen all over the plains on the 29th
Bonelli's Eagle
One adult in the Vall de Gallinera, 3 in the Crevillente Hills
Booted Eagle 
Single at El Hondo on the 30th
Eurasian Kestrel
Small numbers seen on most days
Peregrine Falcon 
1 in the Coral Rubio area on the 29th
Red legged Partridge
Several seen during the day around the Albacete Plains
Purple Swamphen
2 seen on Pego Marsh during the ringing session
Seen on most days
Common Coot
Seen in decent numbers on 3 days
Water Rail
1 seen quite well at El Pinet on the 30th
Great Bustard
60+ seen during the day on the Albacete Plains
Little Bustard
A good flock of 13 were found in the fields of Higueruela
Black-winged Stilt
Seen on most days sometimes in big numbers
Seen on most days most on Santa Pola Salinas
Stone Curlew 
One seen on the Albacete Plains
Northern Lapwing
Seen in varying numbers on 3 days (20+ at El Hondo)
Collared Pratincole
Several juveniles found at the Tancat de Ratla on the 27th
Elizabeth & I found 2 along the Vistabella Rd on the 26th
Greater Ringed Plover
Seen on most days
Kentish Plover
1 at El Pinet and 1 at Santa Pola Salinas only on the 30th
Common Snipe
4 on large pool on the edge of Coral Rubio
Several found along the Santa Pola beach on the 30th
Black-tailed Godwit
200+ seen on Santa Pola Salinas on the 30th
Bar-tailed Godwit
Several found at El Hondo on the 30th
Spotted Redshank
20+ was a good record on El Hondo on the 30th
Common Redshank
Single on El Pinet and 30+ on El Hondo on the 30th
Seen in a few places with 20+ on El Hondo being notable
Green Sandpiper
1 & 2’s seen on most days
Wood Sandpiper
1 Tancat de Silla on 27th & 4 at Pego Marsh on the 28th
Common Sandpiper
Singles seen in two locations at Petrola Lagoon on 29th
A good record of 3 seen at El Hondo on the 30th
3 on Oliva Beach on 28th & several at El Pinet
Little Stint
40+ at Tancat de Ratla on 27th was notable
Curlew Sandpiper
20+ at Tancat de Ratla was notable
20+ at Tancat de Ratla & several on El Pinet
Several seen on most days during the week
Pectoral Sandpiper
Juvenile seen by Martin & I at T de Ratla on the 25th
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Elizabeth & I saw 2 along the Vistabella Road on the 26th
Western Yellow-legged Gull
Lots seen during the week particularly Santa Pola Salinas
Black-headed Gull
Seen in good numbers at several locations
Audouin’s Gull
1 ad on Oliva Beach & on the beach at Santa Pola
Slender-billed Gull
Plenty at Santa Pola Salinas with 200+ on the 30th
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Several seen at the Cullera Ricefields and Santa Pola area
Mediterranean Gull
Seen at Santa Pola area with 20+ along the. beach on 30th
Sandwich Tern
Seen in most coastal locations
Little Tern
2 still at Santa Pola Salinas on the 22nd
Whiskered Tern
2 still at Pego Marsh on the 28th
Black Tern
Several around Valencia Wetlands, single at S. P. Salinas
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
3 seen well at Coral Rubio on 29th
Feral Pigeon
Common Wood Pigeon
Seen most days with a flock of 500+ at Pego Marsh
Eurasian Collared Dove 
Lots seen on most days
Little Owl
1 in the Crevillente Hills on the 30th
Red-necked Nightjar
1 seen well at Pego on the 27th
Ring-necked Parakeet
3 (dubious birds) seen around the buildings at Oliva Beach
Common Kingfisher
Single seen at Santa Pola Salinas on the 30th
Seen in singles at Pego Marsh on 27th & 28th
Iberian Green Woodpecker
Single in the pine forest above Alcoy on 28th
Calandra Lark  
Small flock at Coral Rubio on the 29th
Crested Lark
Seen on 3 days in good numbers
Thekla Lark
2 seen in the Crevillente Hills on the 30th
Wood Lark
2 in mountains above Alcoy
Single flying over El Hondo on the 30th
Eurasian Crag Martin
10+ seen flying around Finca Bonelli’s Eagle
Sand Martin
Several around Pego Marsh & Santa Pola Salinas
Barn Swallow
Lots seen on a daily basis
Red-rumped Swallow
3 surprisingly still at El Pinet on the 30th
House Martin
100+ heading south along Oliva Beach was notable
White Wagtail
Small numbers seen on 4 days
Yellow Wagtail
Good passage mainly flava &some beema on most days
2 ‘in-hand’ males at Pego Marsh on the 27th & 28th
Blue Rock Thrush
Male seen around Finca Bonelli’s Eagle on the 30th
Seen on a few days, several around Santa Pola
Zitting Cisticola
Several at Pego Marsh & Santa Pola Salinas
Cetti’s Warbler 
Single ‘in-hand’ bird at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Moustached Warbler
Single ‘in-hand’ bird at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Sedge Warbler
Single ‘in-hand’ birds at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Eurasian Reed Warbler
3 ‘in-hand’ birds at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Common Chiffchaff
Several on Pego Marsh on the 27th
Willow Warbler
Single ‘in-hand’ bird at Pego Marsh on the 27th
Sardinian Warbler
Several seen at locations on the 28th & 30th
Dartford Warbler 
Single on the track up to the Alcoy Vulture Feeding Station
Pied Flycatcher
Single seen at the Raco D’Olla reserve near Valencia
Black Wheatear 
Single seen from Finca Bonelli’s Eagle on the 30th
Northern Wheatear
Passage birds seen on 4 days
Coal Tit
2 seen in pine forest above Alcoy on the 28th
Crested Tit 
2 seen in pine forest above Alcoy on the 28th
Great Tit
Several seen in pine forest above Alcoy on the 28th
Short-toed Treecreeper
Single seen in pine forest above Alcoy on the 28th
Southern Grey Shrike
Singles seen on the Albacete Plains and around Alicante
Heard in the pine forest above Alcoy on the 28th
Eurasian Magpie
Seen on most days mainly inland away from coastal strip
Red-billed Chough
Poor – single seen in the Vall de Gallinera on the 28th
20+ Pego Marsh on 27th, several en-routes at Santa Pola
Carrion Crow
Lots inland on the Albacete Plains on the 29th
Common Raven
2 birds seen at the Vulture Feeding Station on the 28th
Spotless Starling 
Common in most areas
House Sparrow
Common in most areas
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
3-4 at Pego Marsh on the 28th
Rock Sparrow
20+ seen on wires just outside Bonete on the 29th
Seen in good numbers on most days
Common Crossbill
Several on wires near the Vulture Feeding Station
European Greenfinch
Several seen in various locations
European Goldfinch
Several seen in various locations
Eurasian Linnet
Small flock seen around Coral Rubio on the 29th
European Serin
Surprisingly - only a single seen in the Crevillente Hills?
Corn Bunting
Single seen with Rock Sparrows near Bonete on the 29th


Iberian Hare
Brown Rat


Iberian Water Frog
Iberian Wall Lizard


Western Dappled White Pale Clouded Yellow Clouded Yellow
Small White Swallowtail Speckled Wood
Plain Tiger Lesser Emperor Scarlet Darter
Red-veined Darter Blue-winged Cricket  

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