Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Paddies I visited Santa Cruz with Ads and Len with Abhi who dropped us off on the road approaching the tidal channel from the west (shown on the map in Harris). We therefore, initially viewed the open wetlands marked on the map in Harris, proceeded to the bridge over the tidal channel and then walked the path alongside the paddy fields.
A white-rumped juvenile Harrier was spotted quartering the wetlands with several Marsh Harriers. The identity of this bird brought on a lengthy debate between the four of us. I am convinced the bird was a juvenile Montague's Harrier as all its primaries on the underwing were tipped in black, the underwing pattern fitted that of Montague's Harrier and the facial pattern was too subdued for Pallid Harrier and lacked any real neck collar.
At the bridge a Terek Sandpiper was picked up by Ads along with a Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit along the tidal channel towards the wetlands. On the other side of the bridge a flock of Pacific Golden Plover were resting on the mud. A second flock were seen circling the area.
Several Snipe were flushed by the Harriers, mainly identified as Common Snipe although a few Pintail Snipe were noted.
Opposite the path marked by a dotted line in Harris was another track with a tree near its start. Three Spotted Owlets were found roosting in the tree.
House Crows We walked the track specified in Harris but continued straight on rather than turning right. At the start of the path we found a young House Crow, which appeared to have fallen out of its nest. Len moved the bird into the shade much to the annoyance of the local House Crow community.
The paddies were excellent for waders including good numbers of Little Stint and a few Temminck's Stint. A few Yellow Wagtails were seen but in general they were few and far between over the three-week period.
From the path several Eagles were noted two of which were identified as Lesser Spotted and another two Greater Spotted. The latter landed in a palm tree giving good views. At the end of the second paddyfield a Clamorous Reed Warbler was seen and a flock of Small Pratincole wheeled over the paddies with a single bird alighting and giving excellent views.
On a previous visit Slatey-breasted Rail had been seen by Ads on the opposite side of the raised track to the paddies in the wet grass.
Of interest other than birds were large numbers of Dragonflies around the edge of the rice paddies.

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