It can be a frustrating business at times, this birdwatching. One of the worst things you can hear when entering a hide on the lookout for a particular species is “Oh, there was one here just five minutes ago, but it’s gone now.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that, the annoyance of hearing it is only slightly assuaged by the fact that I’ve probably said it to other people as well.
I think I’ve seen most of the species that you would expect to find in our area of the Costa Blanca, but there are one or two which continue to elude me. These are known as “Bogey Birds” – the ones which everyone else has seen, but you haven’t. It’s not through want of trying, the little blighters just won’t show themselves to you. I’ve been to all the correct places at the correct time of year, I know they are there but they are probably hiding in the undergrowth having a giggle to themselves. In fact I’m thinking of starting a list of all the birds I haven’t seen, but which have seen me.
A case in point happened just a few weeks ago. Elaine Warnock of the Costa Blanca Bird Club kindly sent me the attached photo, which is of a bird called a Moustached Warbler. There are several of these about in our area, they are denizens of the reedbeds, and their stronghold is the El Hondo reserve at Elche, where they will be coming into song around this time and should be easy to see.
What is really annoying (to me) is that Elaine didn’t have to go to El Hondo to get this shot, the bird was at the main hide in the Clot by the big pool, a place where I have spent many hours. Unfortunately a medical problem means that I am stuck in Aberdeen, otherwise I would have jumped on the next Ryanair to come and see this bird – I can almost guarantee that by the time the doctors have repaired me, the Moustached Warbler will have done its disappearing act again.
This bird is resident in our area, and is present all year round. It finds plenty of insect food in the reeds, and has a song which is similar to the scratchy song of the much commoner Reed Warbler, but throws a few extended whistling phrases to help you differentiate it. It is not found in the UK, in fact this species was recently removed from the British List as previous sightings were adjudged to have been the similar but more common Sedge Warbler.
My thanks again to Elaine for her permission to use this photo. I’m still jealous though…
You can see more photographs of birds from our area by visiting www.marketheridge.smugmug.com
See you next month.