Last week I had the pleasure of providing a trip for a group of local birders. We were joined by a guest from Canada who was spending some time in Valencia as a volunteer, working on various environmental and conservation projects. One of our key priorities is always to gear our trips to the wishes and needs of the client. As this was her first visit to our region of Spain, we modified the trip to provide a blend of nature and cultural tourism in Valencia.
We began the day with a walk along the coast not far from the city of Valencia, and soon had our first views of Whiskered Tern and Little Tern. As we made our way through the reedbeds we enjoyed the song of Cetti´s Warbler, and had good views of Marsh Harrier, Great Reed Warbler, Fan-Tailed Warbler and Yellow Wagtail.
We then visited one of the area´s most interesting centres, essentially a beautifully restored country house that was once run by monks from a local monestary. Although a monument in its own right, it also serves as a centre for environmental education and has some fascinating displays.
The staff gave us an extremely interesting guided tour of the site, which ended with a presentation on the painstakingly restored Valencian country kitchen with its array of traditional artifacts and original features.
There followed a walk around the market garden to see the organic vegetables that were being grown there, and to see the beautiful ornamental trees that are planted around the perimeter of the site.
Having said our goodbyes to the centre staff, we took a short walk through the reserve and enjoyed a picnic lunch during which we were treated to a spectacular sight of not only a pair of Montagu´s Harriers but a Short Toed Eagle! We watched these magnificent raptors for over 15 minutes, an absolutely fabulous experience for us all.
Our next stop was at a coastal lagoon that was home to a mixed colony of nesting Common Terns, Whiskered Terns, Little Terns, Collared Pratincoles and Black Winged Stilts. We enjoyed some great views of all these species with their chicks plus Little Ringed Plover, Glossy ibis, Audouin´s Gull and Avocet.
The day´s final viewing point was another lagoon, this time surrounded by reed beds. This gave a very special end to a great day with views of White Headed Duck, Purple Swamphen, Flamingo, Night Heron, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Bee Eater.
We brought the trip to a close with a cool beer at the beach before making the short journey back to Valencia.
The species list for the day included :
Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Turtle Dove, Wood Pigeon, Fan Tailed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Reed Warbler, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Yellow Wagtail, Magpie, Spotless Starling, Bee Eater, Montagu´s Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Short Toed Eagle, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Collared Pratincole, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Yellow Legged Gull, Audouin´s Gull, Black Headed Gull, Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Flamingo, Little Bittern, Coot, Moorhen, Avocet, Black Winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Little Grebe, Purple Swamphen, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Mallard, White Headed Duck.
Written by David Warrington
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding