|Azure-winged Magpie Rabilargo Cyanopica cyanus|
A brief stop at about km post 14 enabled me to walk through the tress to the main lake and check the "hidden" corner where, as expected, I found Coot, Mallard, a couple of Squacco Herons, Grey Herons and over-flying Cormorants. Also present were a couple of Moorhens and I finally located two Purple Swamphens. In the trees around me the Azure-winged Magpies were active as I mad my way back to the main road and the car.
The next stop was at the El Acebuche Visitors Centre. Here there was no water at all but, nevertheless, I was welcomed by the resident Azure-winged and (Common) Magpies. No sooner through the entrance building and I picked up both a Hoopoe and a single Northern Wheatear. Also flying around the "home" area were Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows. A Robin flew up into the tree in front of me as I made my way right to the first hide. No birds but I did find a grazing Red Deer. Nothing to be seen at the second hide and as I made my way back a male Blackbird dashed across the boardwalk in front of me whist Chiffchaffs fed in the trees and Chaffinches moved about the larger trees. As usual, there were Stonechats, Black Redstarts and Crested Larks to be seen but the best sighting was that of a winter plumage Reed Bunting posing very nicely in a tree above the reed bed.
|Red Deer Shikar safaris at la Rocina|
On towards the La Rocinas Centre where, at least, there was a little water, passing more Stonechats, both magpies and at least two Southern Grey Shrikes on the roadside fences and wires. The shallow water held five Little Egrets and a single Spoonbill along with a couple of foraging White Wagtails. A Raven flew over and a Great Tit was seen in the pine trees.
|Spoonbill Espatular Comun Platalea leucorodia|
Now it was the long journey towards the track leading down to the main Juan Valverde Visitors Centre. Regular appearance of Magpies and more Stonechats and a Black Redstart and the occasional Buzzard. But, coincidence or not, in the same area where I regularly come across Black-shouldered Kites here they were again. A pair "dancing" in the sky just above a pylon and obviously so bust engaged in their activity that I had time to stop the car and jump out with the camera before the birds moved away out of sight. Wonderful!
|The beautiful Black-shouldered Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus dances away|
Continuing on I had regular sightings of Cattle Egrets among the cattle and horses plus the first of many White Storks. Lots of House Sparrows as I drove down the track on the long journey to Valverdes and the occasional Northern Wheatear. Half-way down near the water beds on my left I found both Corn Buntings and a small flock of Linnets not to mention the any Goldfinches. The "dog-leg" over the canal bridge produced a pair of Black-winged Stilts and the first Cetti's Warblers whilst Marsh Harriers quartered the wider area. More Northern Wheatears and Common Kestrels but a little further on where the rice had been harvested a very small flock of Lesser Kestrels. In the fields to my right were numerous Grey Herons, Little Egrets and White Storks but then, at last, a pair of Black Storks. Not content with this find I was suddenly looking at a pair of Common Cranes, my first sighting of the winter.
|Juvenile Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra (above) with Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus below|
|Pair of Fallow Deer Dama dama hinds - but the buck's hiding in the long grass|
|A few of the dozen Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba|
|The majestic Spanish Imperial Eagle Aguila Imperial Iberica Aquila adalberti high above El Rocio|
|White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia and with a pair of Black Storks (below)|
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, White wagtail, Robin, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.