Sunday, 19 May 2019

Donana National Park


 Sunday 19 May 2019

Up and away from the hotel early and arrived at the Dehesa de Abajo before 9 o’clock having driven through the trees down the country lane from my overnight stop in Aznalcazar and the first bird seen was a Bee-eater followed by Azure-winged Magpie and Blackbird.  Before reaching the roundabout to turn left to my destination I had also added both Serin and Sardinian Warbler. Then immediately the first of scores of White Storks with many on nests feeding youngsters.  This is also the special place where these birds nest in trees as well as making use of pylons, old buildings, chimneys and anything else that comes to hand.  A single Raven was seen and then a stop at the first water point where I had both Spoonbill and Little Egret.  Also a the water was a pair of Back-winged Stilts and at the next pond I not only added Little Ringed Plover but the constant accompaniment of a very vocal Cuckoo.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Cattle Egrets were feeding next to a small herd of horses and a constant flurry of Barn Swallows.  By the time I reached the Dehesa de Abajo itself I was also in the company of a good number of Black Kites and Glossy Ibis.   

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Lots of Common Swifts overhead as well as the Barn Swallows and I was aware of the local Jackdaws.  In the reeds calling Reed Warblers and Nightingales along with the powerful voice of a few Great Reed Warblers not to mention the ever-present Cetti’s Warblers.
On the water itself a good number of Coot and Flamingo at the back and a good mix of both Common and Red-crested Pochards along with a few Mallard.  Numerous Great Crested Grebe, fewer Little Grebe and the very occasional Black-necked Grebe.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Single sightings of both Great Tit and Purple Swamphen and in a large mixed heron roost of both Grey and Night Heron I also found a large number of Little Egret and a couple of Great White Egret.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Leaving the lake and crossing over a small stream I looked down to find more Night Herons and single Purple Heron whilst Goldfinches were foraging in the neighbouring trees. 

Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Picked up both a Greenfinch and a large flock of Spanish Sparrows as I tuned off the main road to take the very long track down to the Valverde Centre in the heat of the Donana.  Bee-eaters everywhere along with Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola.  Just the one Moorhen on one of the large open water deposits half-way down the track.  And where I crossed the river at the dog-leg, a pair of Red-rumped Swallows feeding with their Barn Swallow cousins.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Now we were really into heron country with numerous Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, at least a dozen Great White Egret and a good number of Grey Heron and a couple of Purple Heron.  Also time to find a half-dozen Squacco Heron.  As for Purple Swamphen, I gave up counting when I passed the fifty mark; never seen so many in such a small area.  No sooner had a lone Cormorant passed me travelling in the opposite direction than I started seeing Magpies and by the time I left this site I must have counted at least twenty.  But just the one Wood Pigeon.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Very little to be seen at the Centre itself other than a small flock of Flamingo and more Glossy Ibis so I continued on my anti-clockwise circuit.  Up ahead a cold see a resting Griffon Vulture the more in the air along with maybe a score or more Black Kite.  Somewhere nearby must have been a dead animal that the birds were feasting on.  Having seen many Lesser Kestrel now a couple of Common Kestrels by way of a change followed by a Short-toed Eagle and Marsh Harrier as I moved into new territory.  Nearing the end of my circuit both Iberian Grey and Woodchat Shrikes were recorded and so to El Rocio to book into my hostal for a couple of nights.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Once my room was sorted and then a change of room as the original seemed unable to connect to the Internet, I took the short drive through the town to the SEO Visitors Centre (closed) to see what was on the main lake.  From the side and using my scope I soon added Flamingo and Spoonbill and, of course, the town was full of House Martins.  A couple of Black Kite quartering the water edges and more Barn Swallows.   On the far side both Little Egret and Heron and then a drive to the road end of town where I picked up a small flock of Greylag Geese, many with recently-fledged young.  However, I did also manage to add a Blue-headed Wagtail found feeding on the grass.

Still time for a little more exploration so I made a short visit to the Las Rocinas Reserve which was very full of water on this occasion.  Great Tit and Serin as I made my way to the hide from where I saw both Spoonbill and White Stork.  Look further afield I was also able to add more Little Egrets. And, again, the constant calling of a very close Cuckoo.

At the back of the pool was a resting group of duck including Mallard and Common Pochard.  Both Reed Warbler and Nightingale were singing as a Marsh Harrier passed overhead and, out of the blue, I suddenly found myself looking at an Azure-winged Magpie at the top of a tree.  A final day’s tally well I excess of 60 species.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite,Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.


Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
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