Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day Four

Sunday 26 October

The final day; time to pack up my kit and gradually make my way back to Casa Collado in the Axarquia but not without much birding on the way including crossing the mighty Guadalquivir by the small car ferry from Coria del Rio.  With an extra hour of daylight in the morning and breakfast not served before 9 am, I had time to visit the lake at El Rocio where I was immediately rewarded with a sight of the perched Spanish Imperial Eagle on the top of his favourite dead tree before concentrating on the water in front of me.  The House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings were busy around me along with a single Black Redstart that was obviously very keen to find some food after the long night.

Lots of Flamingos and Greylag Geese on the water and a very large flock of Black-tailed Godwits. I had a couple of Snipe feeding below me and a little further away many Lapwings and Black-winged Stilts.  Avocets were in good numbers towards the back of the water along with Shovelers, Mallards and Teal.  White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs foraged in the reeds and there was a continuous barrage from the Cetti's Warblers.  A couple of Common Sandpipers worked the water's edge and the Cattle Egrets concentrated on the mud displaced by the wild horses.  Whilst watching the Snipe and searching for more I even managed to find a single Meadow Pipit along with another Zitting Cisticola.  As I drive back towards the hostal for breakfast the village Rock Doves arrived.

My first stop was back at the Dehesa de Abajo where the number of Flamingos appeared less than seen on Thursday but, on the other hand, some had taken to the flooded rice fields now that the crop had been harvested.  A few Little Grebes seen but mostly Shoveler along with some Mallards, many Red-crested Pochards, Coots and at least four Marbled Duck.  However, before this the journey across the water had produced a Robin, both Azure-winged and (Common) Magpie, lots of Stonechats and a few Black Redstarts along with a number of Wood Pigeons.  As soon as I neared the water and passed the rice fields there were scores of White Storks in just about every field accompanied by very many Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets.  With one group of White Storks on a flooded field behind the road I also found a flock of about an hundred or more Glossy Ibis.  Naturally, there were marsh harriers quartering the field plus a single Booted Eagle above me.

Glossy Ibis Morito Europeo Plegadis falcinelus
A single Barn Swallow followed by a single House Martin flew over the the three birders checking out the water and then, returning to the water, we found both Gadwall and a number of Jackdaws on the far bank along with numerous Avocets and Black-winged Stilts.  The occasional Cormorant drifted across and, as before, both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls were recorded.

A very small part of the numerous Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Next followed the long drive to the Brazo del Este which, I hoped, would be just as fruitful as the rice field of the Donana.  I was determined to find the ferry crossing at Coria del Rio and, having found it and crossed the river, I mad my way eastwards to the chosen area around Pinzon.  It seemed so easy but, driving along one of the worst roads I have come across (not a track but a badly broken road) I followed the signpost which took me in the wrong direction and, almost an hour later, I arrived once again to where I had made my original turn to the Brazo!  back again and this time ignored the sign and followed the red arrow pained underneath showing the opposite direction.  Result, a straight-forward, albeit still an awful road, journey to the desired area.  However, all was not without profit on the original detour as I had a lovely view of a Red Kite and a pair of Buzzards plus many more Northern Wheatears, Crested Larks and Stonechats.

Buzzard  Busardo Ratonea Buteo buteo overhead again

A mixture of harvested, flooded, ploughed and remaining crops in the fields as I drove down the main track.  This is not a good time to come across other vehicles as the dust clouds made even the headlights superfluous.  The first pool on the left produced numerous Black-winged Stilts and then two flocks of Glossy Ibis with at least a hundred birds in each.  A Green Sandpiper flew away from me and thee were also plenty of Coots and Mallards to be seen as well as the hundreds of White Storks.  Grey Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets here, there and everywhere but also a couple of Great White Egrets and a trio of Black Storks.

Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra and with (larger) Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea below
A pool to the right contained mainly Black-headed Gulls and a few Coots and Black-winged Stilts but also a number of Purple Swamphens.  To the back on the river itself a score or more Spoonbills were resting and feeding.  Checking the Glossy Ibis at another pool on the left I managed to find a trio of Ruff and a couple of Little Grebes whilst, overhead, the Marsh Harriers continued quartering the area.  Finally, no sign of any weavers but a tree full of Corn Buntings and, in with the swarms of House Sparrows feeding on the spilt rice a good number of their cousins, the Spanish Sparrow.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinelus with Ruff  Combatiente Philomachus pugnax

And so it was time to return home and passing a Sardina Warbler and a couple of Thekla Larks as I climbed the mountain so recording a total of 100 species, somewhat less than I had hoped, and the task of completing the write up and processing the photographs, an on-going job!

yet more Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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