Turia Hides Valencia Spain

13th January to the 20th January 2020

Blue rock-thrush

I contacted Turia Hides in Spain via their web site www.turiahides.com/english-1/our-hides and got a reply from Yani at www.valenciabirding.com

The two companies appear to work closely together and Yani often tour leads for Turia Hides, but also takes care of the booking. I think you could book the same trip through either company.

A schedule was set and I flew into Valencia Airport via Easyjet on the 13th January. I am always happy to fly with Easyjet as there is no restriction on the weight of hand luggage. Even with the Olympus MFT it is still a heavy camera bag.

Yani collected me from the airport in her minivan and we headed directly to the first location, the Quarry Hide where I was to spend the afternoon.

 

It is only a small quarry and no longer used except for dumping rubbish. The comfortable wooden hide is based on a drinking pool and it attracts many birds. Black redstart, Blue rock thrush, Kestrels, Rock sparrows, Black wheatear, Blackcaps, Collared doves, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Grey shrike, Magpie, Serin, Song thrush and White wagtails were all regular visitors. An excellent start to the trip.

I was then taken to my hotel. The Puerta de la Serranía which was a basic, but comfortable place at 39 Euros for the room with a restaurant. It is also part of a service station selling fuel with a small shop so I could buy food for following day in the hide.

My tour did not include the cost of accommodation or meals, but Yani booked the room for me in advance. Meals I ordered with the help of Google translate or my travellers picture book that I always carry with me. You want Chicken and chips. Find the picture and point at it.

Day 2 started at the Goshawk hide and the bird is very reliable. I did not have to wait long before it came into the provided rabbit. Sometimes it comes too early, before the light has built up, but I was lucky.

 

The afternoon was spent at the Passerine Hide. Siskin, Serin, Black restart, Cirl bunting and Chiffchaff were amongst the visitors.

Day 3 was at the La Sabina Hide all day. A little bit of food is scattered in front of the hide, but the main attraction is a small puddle of water provided for the birds. We sat there a while waiting for something to appear. A Song thrush was the first to arrive. Within seconds of one Song thrush there was 6 or more and then a Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle thrush and Ring ouzel. So many that it was difficult to get a shot of a bird without another in the background. Suddenly they all flew off, but a few minutes later one would return followed quickly by the whole lot. This went on all day.

A great place to photograph Ring ouzels and both the Spanish and Northern Europe race was present. Crossbills also came in, but I was not too successful with them.

Day 4 started at the Bonelli's eagle hide. They have been feeding these birds for a long time and they are very reliable. Both male and female came in and stayed eating the bait for a long time. I even managed some flight shots as they left.

The afternoon was at the Mediterranean Passerine Hide for more Black redstarts, Blue rock thrush and Sardinian warbler.

Day 5 was a full day at the El Caseto Hides. There are two hides here, one for the morning light and another in the afternoon covering the same small drinking pool. This should have been the most successful of the drinking pool hides, but it was spoilt by an invasion of honey bees gathering around the edge of the pool. They were a thick swarm and birds were reluctant to approach. Most species hung back in the trees and those that came to drink did so quickly and nervously.

Day 6 was another difficult day due to storm Clara that hit the east coast of Spain. Houses were flooded and lives lost. It was very wild.  I opted to sit in the Quarry Hide all day rather than my hotel room and concentrated on video work in the awful light.

The following day Yani took me to the airport. Alicante Airport was closed due to the storm, but Valencia still open. As I stepped off the stairs into the aircraft it was rocking. I have never experienced that before. Take off was a bit scary. I grabbed hold of the seat in front of me to help stay upright and expected to hear people screaming. Nobody did. Must have all been British displaying the stiff upper lip and just put the kettle on attitude.

A very good trip. Yani is an excellent guide, birder, photographer and communicator. Well recommended.

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