While driving all the way from Stuttgart to Calais, we listened to a radio documentary about 2pac, the hip hop artist that was gunned down a long time ago. He introduced the ridiculous phrase thug-life, and then later on Mallorca, we bumped into a group of thug-lifers, thus the phrase became a bit of a meme inside our trio.
The Elegant Tern was the sole reason for us going to Valencia. We had earlier given the Tern 2 days, driving all the way to Calais and dipping was hard. Furthermore, when we were in souther Spain, in the Gibraltar area an Elegant Tern was reported in the harbour of Cadiz. That was just a single report, so we decided to not go for the Cadiz bird.
When we arrived at Valencia thing started to go sour, first the car rental agency under performed, then we got news from Ricard Gutierrez from Rare Birds Spain that the reserve where the Elegant Tern roosts during day was closed during weekends. Very strange. Secondly on our way to the booked hotel, we call them and they say that they have no rooms. Later we get an SMS from that same hotel, where they say that they have another house for the same price. Fine we drive there only to be told that the house is not available. Booked another hotel, arrive there and there is no booking, nor any available beds. Bad start on the Valencia twitch.
Saturday morning, we park ourselves on the beach, between the litle lake with a Sandwitch tern Colony and the sea with the idea of catching the terns when they move between the nesting colony and the sea. Lots of Sandwitch Terns pass by between morning and noon, no terns with orange beaks though. Lots of Common Tern though. Mediterranean Gulls and Audouin’s Gull are patrolling the beach. Different age classes.
After lunch we decide to break into the nature reserve by jumping the 2.5 meter high wall.
We walk silently and slowly through the thorny forest – then Marten whispers – people, I see people. We hunch down waiting, I see them and they’re just tourists. What!! We decide to act as tourists too. We speak to some folks and this part of the Nature Reserve is open on Saturdays until 2 pm, it’s the wrong lake though. The lake in this part hosts a colony of Common Terns. We’re back on square one again.
We drove by the entrance and there are guards with batons there, so we decide to wait until after 2 pm when the guards are no longer there. We took position on a nearby road where we can sometimes get a glimpse of a Sandwitch Tern. A couple of Little Bitterns are calling from the reeds.
Suddenly Erik calls out – I have the bird. Crappy UTV (Untickable View) Not good enough, so we decide to drive around and jump another wall, this time to the right part of the reserve.
At the inside, we climb a small sandy hill and – the Elegant Terns are down there, roosting. What a twitch.