As our birdwatching friend Marianne and I stepped out of the car at Padul this morning, I made a point of suggesting we might be lucky with one of our regular species at this wetland habitat, the Southern Grey Shrike. As it happened, the shrike never made an appearance…but was quickly forgotten as we enjoyed a fabulous walk, and listed nearly thirty species for the day!
The site was heavily flooded after a few days of seasonal rain, but the recently completed duck-board walkways turned exploring the water-logged reserve into a relaxing, leisurely stroll. We parked at the new visitors centre and started the day-list with many everyday species. Feral Pigeons, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows were quickly followed by Blackbirds and Stonechats, and bright, streaky yellow Serin.
The lake itself had good numbers of Coot, with a few Moorhen and Mallards for company. One of the new lakeside hides brought wonderful views of a Little Grebe – a first for me in Spain – and some close-up glimpses of Cetti’s Warblers, the first of no less than five warbler species we identified through the day.
Large numbers of migrant Chiffchaff and Blackcap have joined resident Sardinian Warblers for the winter, and we picked up a Fan-tailed Warbler within no time at all. Robins, Great Tits and a nice group of Long-tailed Tits all showed well in the flooded stands of trees, and we swiftly added White Wagtails along the way.
Another superbly positioned new hide proved to be highly productive, with great views out over the reedbeds and the muddy lake margins. Finches and other songbirds – including Goldfinch and this rather nice female Linnet – came down to forage and bathe in the shallows. Cattle Egrets passed by, Grey Herons stood watching motionless from favourite perches and Cormorants dived for fish out on the open water.
A female Marsh Harrier was a superb addition to the day, and confirming the ID of winter plumage Water Pipits gave us another first ever sighting for the new month. All in all a wonderful few hours, but the day had one more fantastic surprise in store. A male Bluethroat, a life-first for me and without a doubt a highlight of the birdwatching year!
A truly memorable day – 27 species in all, and ample proof that the birding down here in southern Spain can bring some fantastic surprises at any time of year. We’ll take a good look at some of today’s marvellous species over the next few days so please keep checking our posts, and if you’d like to come and enjoy our spectacular birdlife yourself, the details of our birdwatching trips and holidays are only a click away!