Saturday, 12 October 2019

Birding Seville & Huelva Province: Day One

Friday 11 October

Just back from four glorious birding days to the west on Seville and Huelva Province with friends Derek and Barbara Etherton, and we even met up with Gerry and Barbara Laycock for the middle two days, where we finally recorded over 100 species.  Glorious sunny weather with, mostly, clear blue skies and temperature never falling below the top twenties and usually around 31-33C.  Our visit took in some of the best sites of the area including the southern section of the Osuna Triangle, Braza del Este, Donana National Park and, just over the river into Portugal, the Castro Marim reserve and the Tavera salinas.  Wonderful birding based at Ayamonte on the Spanish/Portuguese border and excellent company.  The only down side cam on the last day as we made our way home and discovered that the lakes at both El Rocio and the Dehesa de Abajo were bone dry and deserted, not even a damp patch never mind a distant small puddle.  A full list of the species recorded will follow at the end of the last day, Thursday 10 October.

Day 1 Monday 7 October:  Osuna and Braza del Este

Away early to collect friends Derek and Barbara Etherton and then on via the A92 to Osuna for a deviation along the southern end of the "Osuna triangle" by which time we had already recorded Kestrel and Heron.  After a quick coffee we had hardly reached the country lane behind the Junction 80 venta when we found at lest a dozen Stone Curlew followed by a total of over 50 Red-legged Partridges before crossing the first of the high bridges.  Then quickly followed Crested Lark and a Buzzard followed y a small flock of Spanish Sparrows.  Both Jackdaw and Raven were seen near the second high bridge and then the first Iberian Grey Shrike.  Similarly, the first of very many Stonechat which were to be regular sightings for the coming four days.

Then followed a few more wonderful sightings including a most handsome Black-shouldered Kite and the first of a few Northern Wheatear.  Finally, to cap off our first site we had close views of a Red Kite as a Hoopoe flew across the road.

Mainly Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus but many more
The it was the long drive down via Los Palios to explore the Braza del Este on the eastern side of the River Guadalquivir.  Upon arrival it was immediately obvious that the rice harvest was well under way and, possibly, as much as 65% completed; certainly earlier than we had expected.  Cattle Egrets as we entered the main track through the rice fields followed by a flock of Spoonbill.  The first large area of water produced a small flock of departing Flamingo and closer study produced Little Grebe, Mallard and Heron and a good number of Glossy Ibis.  The odd Cormorant was moving about and, naturally, many Little Egrets were present.

Spoonbills Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia and a single Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio
At this point the real relevance of harvest time was experienced as a couple of large lorries approached us and a tractor and trailer were approaching from behind.  talk about a dust storm!  As the vehicles past us everything was obliterated and no windows opened for a few minutes till the air had cleared.  As one might imagine, all photographs taken here are going to have a "mistiness" about them.  And so this distraction continued for the whole of our time on site.  But in between lots of birds to be seen.

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

The various ponds in this area produced a good number of Purple Swamphen and lots of Black-winged Stilt.  Many Lapwing were seen along with individual Green and Wood Sandpipers and Snipe.  Ducks included mainly Mallard but also Red-crested Pochard and Shoveler.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios bastardo Tringa glareola

The next pool provided a selection of waders including both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits Ruff, Knot and Ringed Plover.  To Derek's great delight a male Black-headed Weaver flashed past him through the reeds whilst we other three watched a female Yellow-crowned Bishop.  The occasional Zitting Cisticola and even a couple of Willow Warblers were in the small bushes.  To the far side a regular appearance of a Marsh Harrier and on the bank a single Blue-headed Wagtail.  Also in the water both Moorhen and Coot along with a single Great Crested Grebe.  To be expected, many White Stork but also a couple of Black Storks which few directly over us.

Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinelius and company
Whilst we did also record Magpie, a small number of Barn Swallow and a Black Kite, the real bonus was a great view of a Black-shouldered Kite.  And to end our first day, upon arrival at the Costa Esuri, Ayamonte on the bank of the Rio Guadiana which marks the border between Spain and Portugal we were welcomed by a handful of Azure-winged Magpies.


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

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