La Safor Birders are a small group of Birdwatchers based in the mountain village of La Drova in the La Safor region of the Valencian Community. The key members have a long experience of birding both here in Spain, the UK and elsewhere. The purpose of the blog is to provide a forum for recording species seen throughout the year in La Drova whilst also acting as a base upon which to record specific birding trips throughout our local area.
One of our key operating principles, and something that we never compromise on is that we always endeavour to tailor every trip exactly to the needs, interests and wishes of the client. It was therefore a great pleasure to provide a day of guided birding for a small group of clients from USA, who wanted to focus on bird watching, but who also wanted to learn something of the local conservation efforts, the local traditions and culture and to see the habiats and eco-systems of Albufera de Valencia.
After the short drive from their hotel in the city centre of Valencia, we began our day with a brief explanation of the geography and topography of the Albufera Natural Park. We then visited one of the park´s best nature reserves, where we enjoyed some great views of species such as Purple Heron, Little Bittern and Glossy Ibis. We enjoyed a particularly good view of a Squacco Heron. This amazing bird appears to be a fairly indistinct creature from a distance, but upon closer viewing, reveals beautifully delicate tones and a stunning blue bill (in the breeding season).
All very knowledgable nature lovers, the group was interested to know how birding and conservation in Valencia is developing. Some of the group were heavily involved with environmental education in the USA, so they were keen to see the work that goes on here in Spain. After a walk through the reserve, we provided a presentation on the history, functionality and eco-systems of the reserve, together with a summary of the educational aspects of its work.
The wetland habitat of Albufera de Valencia
We then strolled back through the reserve, and enjoyed watching other bird species such as Fan-tailed Warbler, Red Crested Pochard, Greater Flamingo and Cattle Egret. At this time of year, the rice fields are currently being sown and flooded. After a brief discussion on the rice growing cycle, and its influence on the local bird life, we headed for a local village where we enjoyed a traditional Albufera lunch of paella and another local delicacy, eels.
Flooded rice fields at Albufera de Valencia
Once re-fuelled and rested, we then made a short trip across the rice fields to visit another, smaller reserve, hoping to see Night Heron. We were rewarded with quality views of a small colony of these extremely elegant birds.
Night Herons with a Squacco Heron
To provide this trip had been a real pleasure for me, and to spend the day with such enthusiastic, knowledgable and indeed kind people added to the memory.
The species list for the day included…
Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis, Moorhen, Coot, Greater Flamingo, Little Grebe, Mallard, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin´s Gull, Common Tern, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Fan-tailed Warbler, (Cetti´s Warbler heard).