A bird in the hand

Pallid swift (Rob Carr)
There are good reasons why Andalucia, Extremadura or the Pyrenees are often the first places in mainland Spain visited by wildlife enthusiasts. However two Honeyguide holidays in Valencia have shown that this region also has much to offer, with the right local knowledge.

Cetti's warbler, showing its rounded tail and short wings.
Pau Lucio provides that local know-how as well as plenty of experience of the Honeyguide style. Pau is a member of local ringing group Pit-roig (Valencian for the robin), supported by this holiday’s conservation donations. One of the group’s regular working areas is Pego Marshes, not far from our hotel tucked away in an orange grove outside the town of Oliva.

Moustached warbler
On our first visit to Pego Marshes in 2018 the late afternoon sunshine provided perfect conditions to see low-flying pallid swifts, often a tricky bird to see well.

The Honeyguide group in March 2018, as in March 2016, was also privileged to see the results of a ringing session at Pego. High winds meant the first date was called off but all was well when we arrived shortly after breakfast on 14 March. 
White-spotted bluethroat

Several birds, all caught in mist nets put up by a path through the reedbed, had already been ringed, weighed and measured. The timing was perfect to see then release five different species.

A wintering chiffchaff and a resident Cetti’s warbler were no surprise. Moustached warbler is an important local bird. Generally though to be a resident species, unlike the similar sedge warbler, ringing returns show that Pego Marshes also supports birds that move here from southern France, in a stroke doubling the importance of wetlands near the coast in this part of Spain

Reed bunting and a feisty white-spotted bluethroat were the final birds. We left the ringers to put away their equipment and went to walk in another area nearby.

Chris Durdin, April 2018

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