Do you own, or are you staying in, a nice house in Gran Alacant? Of course you keep it clean and tidy (or at least I hope you do) and you wouldn’t put up with rubble and other mess. You’d keep the roof watertight, you’d repair holes in the walls and you’d try to keep the more nasty species of insects well away from your door.

Location is another important aspect – you wouldn’t want to live next to an electricity substation for example, and neither would you want to live in the shadow of a hulking great nuclear power station. Apart from the view outside your window, you wouldn’t want your children to grow up with two heads, webbed feet or glowing green in the dark.

But here’s a bird which seems to like precisely these kinds of environments to breed. After the end of the Second World War, they were found living quite happily in bomb sites, and more recently in industrial complexes, power stations and abandoned warehouses back in the UK. It is still a relatively uncommon bird in Britain.

So why am I telling you all this? Well for some reason many birds which have bred in such desolate places during the summer arrive en masse in the Costa Blanca for the winter, and in fact they become one of the most common birds here in Gran Alacant. You might think all the birds you can see from your house are the ubiquitous sparrows, but if you look closely you will see that several are Black Redstarts (Collirojo Tizon in Spanish), identifiable by their “whee-chack-chack-chack” call and quivering red tails.

My photograph shows an adult male in all his finery, but most of them are the slaty-grey females and juvenile birds – watch out for their orange-red tails which they quiver restlessly while they perch. New males only get their handsome plumage during their first breeding season, so any you see looking like this are at least 18 months old. They tend to spend the night around the urbanisations, then disperse down to the Clot where they feed on the plentiful insect life during the day, so unless you are out and about in the Clot you are most likely to see them during the early morning and evening around your house.

They are here from late October until late March, when they migrate northwards for the breeding season. A few of them live in cooler areas of Spain in the summer, but most of them are Northern European birds, mainly from France and Germany.

You can see more photographs of birds from our area by visiting www.marketheridge.smugmug.com

See you next month.