Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Five days in Huelva Province (5)

Friday 16 October 

Day 5:  Donana National Park

After saying our goodbyes to those who were actually up and about, Derek and Barbara followed our car as we headed back towards Isla Mayor in the hope that there would still be plenty of activity in the harvesting rice field and, just possibly, the chance to see a Purple Heron.  However, despite all the birds seen, it was not to be.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra (PHOTO: Steve Powell)

No sooner on the country road and we were seeing numerous Azure-winged and (Common) Magpies along with Blackbirds, Spotless Starlings and Goldfinches.  No sooner had we recorded both Crested Lark and Corn Bunting than we had our "first real sighting" with a lovely Hen Harrier.  On down the road of a "thousand sleeping policemen" and a pair of Ravens on the pylon and a couple of Serins.  The next surprise, earlier then hoped, was to see a Black-shouldered Kite drifting by the car to be met by a second individual.  Lovely to watch these handsome raptors as they elegantly move through the air.  More sightings of the pair plus both male and female Hen Harriers along with Common Kestrel as we moved on towards the rice fields passing Greenfinch, Blackbird and quite a collection of Common Buzzards on the way.  Just for a change, we even manged to see a Peregrine Falcon, spotted by Barbara and Derek, moving away across the adjoining field.

As we approached the first paddies more marsh harriers and even another hen harrier and then we were amongst the White Storks, Little Egret and Herons with numerous Cattle Egrets following the tractors.  Even a couple of Great White Egrets and at the edges small waders including Black-winged Stilts, Ringed Plover, Green and Common Sandpipers and Lapwings.  A solitary Marsh Sandpiper was an added bonus as were the couple of Black Storks at the back of the field.  Cett's Warblers were singing behind us and there seemed to be a regular movement of other small birds including both Goldfinches and Linnets.  Add on both Reshank and Greenshank along with a handful of Mallards and the variety of species was almost complete.

Adult and juvenile Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (PHOTO: David Hackett)
Stopping by the bridge before the last stretch of road into Isla Mayor we had a feast of small warblers.  There were Stonechats and Crested Larks on the edges and even another Rufous Bushchat but in a Tamerisk at the side of the river, and very near ti the bridge, we manage to find five warblers within five metres of each other and often all in the same view of the bins. 
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Not just both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff but also a pair of Melodious Warblers, Bonelli's Warbler and Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola).  Once the Southern Grey Shrike and a Collared Dove had put in an appearance we moved on recording many more egrets and herons as we drove towards the Cruce venta and the end of our week's birding.  We passed another Black Stork and then, in the distant sky, thousands of silhouetted bird flying in extremely long strings.  They looked like Glossy Ibis from our position but Steve and Elena were about five miles ahead of us and later confirmed that they were Flamingos by the many thousand passing directly overhead.  But we did find a couple of Glossy Ibis in a roadside field.

And then there were thousands of Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus in the air (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
A coffee and tapa and then our respective ways back to Malaga and a Red Kite picked up on the way.  Yet another good morning with a total of 54 species.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Whinchat, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Rufous Bushchat, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Black Stork with Little Egrets and Flamingos

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

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