Yesterday, I enjoyed a fabulous day of birding at Albufera de Valencia with returning clients from the Netherlands. Although chilly and quite breezy, we enjoyed a truly wonderful day.
As we only had one day, we aimed to maximise habitat diversity, taking in coastal scrub, dunes, beach, sea, rice fields, reed beds and fresh water lagoons.
The day began at a reserve area where we scanned the main Albufera lake for wildfowl. We enjoyed views of Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Shoveler and Wigeon. We moved on to watch a smaller lagoon where we saw Black Tailed Godwit, Black Winged Stilt, Ruff and the spectacular Booted Eagle. This raptor has in recent years become a resident of the Valencia region and can often be seen in Albufera and other coastal wetland sites.
Our next stop was an area of coastal scrub and grassland where we had good views of Meadow Pipit, Red Legged Partridge, Black Redstart and Sardinian Warbler. A short time spent sea watching gave views of Gannet, Razorbill, and Yellow Legged Gull whilst on the beach we enjoyed watching a small flock of Sanderling feeding by the shoreline.
We then drove into the rice paddies in search of a few specific target species – Bluethroat (a regular winter visitor), Purple Swamphen (a resident species that has seen considerable population growth in recent years) and Squacco Heron (strictly speaking a summer visitor, but each year sees a few birds that over-winter here too).
Whilst having lunch in the car, using it as a hide we were fortunate to enjoy great views of both Bluethroat and Purple Swamphen.
A little patience at a known spot for Squacco Heron rewarded us with views of the bird both standing and in flight. We also enjoyed good views of Kingfisher. Hundreds of Crag Martins were feeding on insects overhead. This resident martin breeds in the mountains that surround Valencia but can be found at sea level in huge numbers in winter.
Further exploration of the rice fields gave good views of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Cattle Egret, Great Egret and a huge flock of thousands of Glossy Ibis.
The sun was low in the sky by now so we headed for a small lake where we hoped to see Black Necked Grebe. Although obviously right now, they are in their winter plumage, this attractive bird is always a pleasure to see.
It had been a wonderful day, spent with great clients and some fabulous birds! The species list for the day included…
Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Shelduck, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Crag Martin, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Cetti´s Warbler (heard), Black Redstart, Robin, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Bluethroat, Kingfisher, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, White Wagtail, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Serin, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Black Winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis, Black Tailed Godwit, Ruff, Sanderling, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Red Legged Partridge, Great Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Black Necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Cormorant, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Gannet, Razorbill.
Written by Dave Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.