Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel)

Saturday 16 February

Having had a super birding day on the way down to our hotel in Nueva Portil, now was the day to travel the short distance up the Information Centre at the top end of the nature reserve serving the Odiel Marshes for the monthly meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society.  Imagine our surprise, therefore, when we travelled over for the 9.30 stat in quite thick fog!  However, the day was and remained calm and as we had to wait about fifteen minutes for the remaining party of four the fog had lifted sufficiently not to spoil our start never mind the rest of a very full day.  A very successful day at that with over 80 species recorded by the group led by Manu.  Indeed, apart from all the returning White Storks we even had a Great Crested Grebe in the foggy waters as we joined the motorway.

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba

The fit our or so was spent checking out the river and waters around the centre as the tide slowly receded revealing the food-rich mud and all the various waders feeding there on.  Curlew and Whimbrel were seen together as were both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits.  Add on Avocet, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, a single Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank and Grey Plover and we were well and truly in amongst the birds.  Flying over the area we had Cormorants, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls along with a Sandwich Tern.  The neighbouring small pond contained a range of ducks including Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall and Teal plus, of course, both Moorhens and Coots.  Needless to say, there were also Little Grebes and Black-winged Stilts whilst both Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler flew across from the hide to this same small pond.

Moving off down towards the lighthouse there many regular stops to check out the waters on both sides of the road during which we added Great White Egret, Little and Cattle Egret, White Stork, Black-necked Grebe, Heron, Sanderling and Kentish Plover.  One particular stop revealed a small party of Spanish Sparrows. During this part of the drive we also recorded Chiffchaff, Corn Bunting, Goldfinch and Hoopoe whilst, at the back of the large pool to the left in addition to a score of Sponbills was a solitary Caspian Tern.

One of the beauties of this area is the likelihood to see some glorious raptors and we were not to be disappointed.  First a resting Osprey and then both a female Hen Harrier and at least a trio of Marsh Harriers including a magnificent adult male.

Distant Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus

Then it was back to the Information Centre for our picnic lunch before entering the private part of the site to reach the freshwater pool.  This necessitated the us of Manu's car only so whilst the first half of the party were driven over a handful of the thirteen visitors started to walk the track as we awaited Manu's return to collect us.  We may have had both a Dartford Warbler and a Bluethroat but the other group managed to record both Wood Lark and Meadow Pipit to add to the group's combined total.  On arrival at the final turning point we had an absolute mass of small waders including many of those already seen but there was also a pair of Little Stint and both Osprey and Marsh Harrier drifted over.  Indeed, whilst waiting for we in the second party, the others had a magnificent view of a fishing Osprey which then disappeared with its well-earned afternoon meal.  Finally, on to the last, fresh water, pool where, fling overhead we had both Barn Swallow and House Martin.  Another Osprey was spotted on the far side and a Green Sandpiper worked the edge of the water below us.

Our final stop of the day was at the lake in El Portil.  Here we had Black-necked Grebe, Pochard, Shelduck and Mallard with feeding Barn Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins above.  But the illusive Red-crested Pochards and Tufted Ducks could not elude us.  The nearby small pine wood also added Black Redstart, Robin and Serin to the day's total.

Spoonbill  Espatula Comun  Platalea leucorodia

Also recorded during the day were Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Reed Bunting, Azure-winged Magpie, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Spotless Starling with earlier sightings of Oystercatcher, Southern Grey Shrike, Sardinian Warbler and Snipe. However, perhaps pride of place should go to the dozen Stone Curlews seen on a bank between the lagoons just after crossing the bridge near the Information Centre at the start of our journey.

All in all a marvellous day with special thanks to local member Manu Mojarro who organised and led the day.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.  

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