The Nature Reserve of Las Salinas de Santa Pola, with its marshland and scrubland, has a large colony of Greater Flamingos. It is relatively easy to find specimens of Squacco Heron, Audouin’s Gull, Whiskered Tern and Thekla Lark. We can also find rarities like Glossy Ibis, Slender-billed Gull and Marbled Duck.
When we reached the little saltern that hosts the visitor’s centre, we found a large number of Yellow-legged Gulls which were flying over our heads in order to report our presence to their kind. Their yelling was thunderous. Once they got used to our activity, the noise ceased and we could enjoy the calm and peace produced by the view of the birds over the standing water of the saltern, which produce that mirror-effect image that birdwatcher photographers look for.
We continued our pleasant walk and in the middle of an island we saw a specimen of Little Egret. This elegant Ardeida of snow-white plumage usually forages in the salterns. Behind it, the group of immature flamingos mingled with a few adults. They were trying to stretch with the morning sun rays like children in the nursery. Always watched by the adults. Then we saw an adult doing the leg cleansing ritual. They get their sustenance with their legs, moving up the mud accumulated in the depths of the water and taking little invertebrates and algae to their beak. From those algae they get the carotenoid pigments which give flamingos their characteristic pink colour.
A large group of avocets was resting in a little patch, close to the protection offered by the flamingo nursery. Among them were several stilts, earlier risers seeking food. At the salt museum we were offered the possibility of taking several pictures of the adult flamingos from the saltern on the other side of the road. Among the flamingos, several Mallard and Common Pochard couples were roaming free. Back to the walk, over a little accumulation of sand, we were surprised by the presence of a Common Tern. This lonesome sea swallow is a curious case.
With the sun up above, the high temperatures didn’t allow us to keep enjoying, so we started our way back and resolved coming back soon to this lively place in the south of Alicante.