Day 4: Odiel Marshes and Donana
Up, up and away by 8 o'clock so that I could find a bar for breakfast before spending the morning exploring the Marismas del Odiel (Odiel marshes) with Derek and Barbara Etherton. Once more we seemed to have lost the sun and clear skies as the day remained calm and dry but very overcast. I had intended to make an early start back to Lake Vinuela but when told that Derek and Barbara had found a few Long-tailed Ducks and Squacco herons in the Donana yesterday, visiting the main Juan Valverdes Centre which I had decided to give a miss, I decided to make the extra stop with a repeat visit just to try and locate these wonderful birds. Again, I was to be sadly disappointed for no matter what else I found, the Long-tailed Ducks and Squacco Herons eluded me. On the other hand, I did finally manage to record 70 species for the day giving me a final count of 102 for my stay down in Cadiz/Sevilla. Indeed, the four days produced 18 new species for the year to take my running total up to 156.
Approaching the Visitors Centre at the Odiel we had already recorded White Stork, Spotless Starling, Magpie and Cormorant and were soon adding both Yellow-legged Gull and Cormorant. Passing the small adjacent pool we could not but notice all the Shovelers and then the Flamingos over on the salinas so it was time to park up and check out the river. Whilst the tide was on its way out there was still very little exposed mud so we mad our way round the back to look at the Odiel itself where, thankfully, small waders were in abundance. Strange to relate, rather than Black-tailed it was Bar-tailed Godwit that we the predominant large wader. Also running around and feeding on the receding tide were numerous Ringed Plovers, Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Redshanks. A couple of Whimbrel put in an appearance and even a Sandwich Tern graced us with its presence. Black-headed Gulls were moving up and downstream and, eventually, we had a single Black-tailed Godwit - but many more were to follow during the course of the morning. We even found a couple of Black-necked Grebes feeding in the main river.
Continuing our search of both the main river and neighbouring pools near the road bridge we soon added Little Stint, Greenshank and Snipe. Meanwhile, near the small adjacent fresh water pool, both Robin and White Wagtail were noted along with feeding Barn Swallows. In addition to the many Shoveler, the pool also held mallard, Gadwall, Coot and Little Grebes. The same could be said for the Black-winged Stilts and Shelduck that were seen on the neighbouring salina and a small flock of Avocet flew past overhead..
|Whimbrel Zarapito Trinador Numenius phaeopus with Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Grande Charadrius hiaticula in front|
|A hard-working Curlew Zarapito Real Numenius arquata|
|Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus - raptor to savour|
A stop further on down the spit near a small corner filled with shrubs and small trees then managed to provide a range of small birds including Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Serin, Greenfinch and Zitting Cisticola but, maybe best of all, a number of Spanish Sparrows mixed in with their close relative, the common House Sparrow. On the other side of the road we had a lovely view of a Slender-billed Gull and, very nearby, a pair of Hoopoes that seemed to have decided on a drainage hole on an overflow as their prospective nesting hole for the coming breeding season. We hardly seemed to notice the Common Kestrel that drifted over.
|The beautiful Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops at their prospective nesting site|
|Distant Grey Plover Chorlito Gris Pluvialis squatarola|
Azure-winged Magpies as I approached and no sooner had I entered the track than I was recording many Crested Larks, Stonechats and a pair of Magpies. A good number of White Storks about and certainly many, many charms of Goldfinches some in quite large flocks. The Barn Swallow numbers were building up as were the House Sparrows and, again, a few Spanish Sparrows in their company. Never a shortage of Marsh Harriers including some most handsome adult males and even small groups of Cormorants resting on the arid fields.
Every now and again I would find Chiffchaffs, in almost every group of small trees and/or bushes, and Cattle Egrets away form the water with Little Egrets in the flooded ditches. By now I had reached the large water reservoirs on the left of the track which were followed just beyond by some seriously flooded fields. Lots of Shoveler and Mallard, Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts and even the odd Avocet but no, as far as I could see, Long-tailed Ducks. I was sure that I had a lovely, almost white head in my scope but then moved nearer the bird in question but could find nothing but Shoveler. Did I see an individual? I thought so but will not record a sighting until I am absolutely positive.
|No shortage of Black-winged stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus|
|The magnificent Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba|
|Still more Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus|
|Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra|
A long day but very productive and enjoyable followed by the three hours plus journey back to Lake Vinuela. Good job that Jenny was away in the UK!
|Six Griffon Vultures Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus seen|
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.