On Tuesday 8th January, together with two local birders, I enjoyed a leisurely day in the Natural Park of Albufera de Valencia. We began our day by generally exploring some of the rice fields on the west side of the park. The usual Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons were in abundance in amongst which were a five Great Egrets.
A female Marsh Harrier passed low over the stubble, flushing out a Snipe. A pair of Stonechats were flitting around the edges of a field and an Iberian Grey Shrike spent a few minutes on an overhead cable close by. Then seemingly from nowhere, a Booted Eagle appeared. It passed by very low before catching a thermal and rising into the air until it was nothing more than a dot. It circled over the fields then made yet another low pass, the winter sunlight catching its contrasting colours beautifully. We moved further north on to another favourite spot where we enjoyed superb views of over 100 Glossy Ibis.
We remained in this spot for a good while, and our patience was rewarded with views of Bluethroat, Meadow Pipit and Purple Swamphen.
After lunch we took a short walk beside a coastal lagoon where we saw a pair of Black Necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black Redstart, Sandwich Terns, a Kingfisher and lovely close views of a Kestrel.
We then headed for home, driving across the rice fields in the southern end of the park. We stopped off at a few favourite locations and scanned the fields. As we stood beside an irrigation canal, a female Merlin flew past, giving good albeit brief views. Scanning across the rice fields revealed sizeable flocks of White Wagtail, Chaffinch and Brambling. The day ended with a magnificent view of a Male Marsh Harrier, gliding low over reed beds.
The day had been enjoyed at a relaxed pace and we´d purposely visited some spots that are lesser known, but we´d had some great views and had seen some very special bird life. The species list for day included…
Black Headed Gull, Black Necked Grebe, Cormorant, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Sandwich Tern, Yellow Legged Gull, Booted Eagle, Iberian Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Little Egret, Black Redstart, Bluethroat, Brambling, Chaffinch, Crag Martin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Kingfisher, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Serin, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Wheatear, White Wagtail, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Snipe
Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.