On Friday 31 January I went to the P.N. Marjal de Pego-Oliva for the first time this year. Last year I visited this lovely area many times but as yet, had not been there in the winter. On arriving at the entrance to the park I bumped into Mike Bird of the Bedfordshire Natural History Society who was there for the first time. I offered to show him around so off we went in the 4×4.

The flooded rice fields to the south held Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, White Wagtail, Northern Lapwing, Water Pipit, Mallard, Shoveler and Snipe. Several Marsh Harriers hunted over the reed beds scattering the hundreds of Crag Martin feeding on a hatch of small flies, whilst the irrigation canals and scrapes played host to Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Moorhen, Water Rail and Purple Swamphen.

I had hopes of spotting a Bluethroat. Sure enough, sitting on a stone by the edge of a puddle in the middle of the track an adult male obliged us with good views for several minutes, its white throat patch contrasting starkly with the bright blue bib, then a narrow black and white band finished off with a broader rusty red band.

bluethroat C2272

Crossing over to the north, the rice fields held less birds although a Purple Heron flew up from a bank protesting strongly against our intrusion. At one point along the track where the river bends there is a good place to search for raptors hunting over a low lying hill bordering the northern boundary of the park. Just a kestrel or two today though and three pale phase Booted Eagles, one of which needed a second look as the light was making it difficult to see properly.

Leaving the vehicles I took Mike on a route that included a good Bluethroat site from my last visit in October. It didn’t take long to find another male feeding in the mud by the edge of a field as well as an altogether draber bird which I took to be a 1st winter example. As I busied myself taking some photos Mike had spotted another a short way off, this time a female.

Luscinia svecica

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Luscinia svecica, Bluethroat, Ruiseñor Pechiazul (Photos courtesy of David Bowyer, Aragon Birding)

Many thanks to Mike for being such enthusiastic company. Altogether a delightful morning’s birding for both of us and having said our goodbyes I set off back to Javea.