Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day Three

Saturday 25 October  

Azure-winged Magpie Rabilargo Cyanopica cyanus
Up early and checked out of the apartments before 8 so that I could be at the Odiel Visitors Centre at daybreak, the idea being to have a last minute check on what was about before setting off for the Donana.  In the event I was too early as their was insufficient light so also made a wasted return ride to the Juan Carlos pool but, upon returning to the small pool next to the salt works I could at least make out Black-winged Stilts, Shovelers, Mallards, Coots and Gadwall before continuing on to the Donana National Park.

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

Just before reaching the Juan Valverdes Centre I came across a family of Fallow Deer grazing in the long grass to my right.  At the centre itself I found that there was a good-sized pool behind the building but only a limited number of birds.  Coots and Mallards predominated but also a few Greylag Geese. Not a long stop and as I continued on the anti-clockwise circuit I was joined by a trio of Griffon Vultures and yet more Common Kestrels.  A single Red Kite made an added bonus and even here there were Buzzards to be seen along with the many Crested Larks and Stonechats.

Pair of Fallow Deer Dama dama hinds  - but the buck's hiding in the long grass
A stop at the large pumping station produced at least a dozen Great White Egrets in the company of the smaller Little Egrets plus a quartet of Black Storks, one adult and three juveniles.  Also in the area I picked up yet another Zitting Cisticola and whilst trying to follow the moving Corn Bunting along a dry bank I was suddenly focused on yet another Northern Wheatear.  However, in returning to the bunting I then found a female Cirl Bunting to ad to the species list for the day.

A few of the dozen Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba
Time eventually to return to El Rocio and find my hostal for the night and then a quick visit to the lake and the SEO Visitors Centre.  A very bright, low sun made everything in silhouette but I was able to pick out the many Flamingos, Coots, Lapwings, Black-winged Stilts, AvocetsBlack-tailed Godwits, Mallards and Shovelers.  In addition, the resident breeding Spanish Imperial Eagle left its regular roosting tree and drifted over accompanied by its mate giving good views.  We even had three Griffon Vultures over the Centre.  Also seen during the day were the three regular Gulls, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged.
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)

Birds seen:
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.

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