Sunday, 11 October 2020

Donana Day 1

 Thursday 8 October

Of at 8.30 with dear friend Mick Richardson for two nights at Matalascanas on the Atlantic coast at the southern extremity of the Donana National Park.  Naturally, birding on the way down and also on the return journey to Mezquitilla.  Fist and last bird seen on the three days was, obviously, the local Monk Parakeets!   Lots of usual birds, plus a Booted Eagle, on the way to or first stop to take in the perimeter road alongside the railway track from Osuna that forms part of the well-known "triangle."

Once at the start of the Osuna stretch we immediately picked up a handful of Stone Curlew and the first of the Red-legged Partridge before adding Iberian Grey Shrike, Crested Lark, many Common Redstarts, Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow

The most obliging Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus seen at the usual site (PHOTO: Mick Richardson)

Once we had also come across our first Spotted Flycatcher and Sardinian Warbler we made our way to the top of the first railway bridge where we managed to locate 19 Great Bustards.  A few Ravens flew over and then more small birds including Blackbird, Greenfinch, Blackcap and Spanish Sparrow,  A late Willow Warbler was a lovely find. 

Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda

Working our way to the end of our route parallel to the unfinished high speed rail track we turned left towards the A92 motorway and stopped to check out the hidden lake down to our left.  Lots of White Storks and Flamingos along with Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot.  The only gulls were of the Lesser Black-backed variety but we did also find a second Willow Warbler feeding in a low shrub at the side of the road immediately in front of us.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

And so on to the Dehesa de Abajo at the northern end of the Donana.  Approaching the area it was obvious that the rice harvest had only just started so most of the immediate acres of paddy were still showing green to golden rice crops.  Still a good number of both White Stork and Little Egret foraging in the fields and a stop at the two small ponds along the road produced Green Sandpiper, Night Heron and Waxbill.  Both Great White Egret and Grey Heron were noted before finding a trio of Black Storks.  Only a handful of Barn Swallows to be seen.

Reaching the large lake below the Dehesa de Abajo we were a little surprised to see a barren, overgrown weed paradise where there should gave been water; not a single bird to be seen on the evaporated lake.  The nearby hedgerow produced a few Penduline Tit and a Zitting Cisticola.  Time for a return to the roundabout and stop for a coffee at the local venta followed by a trip through the rice fields around Isla Mayor where we managed to also find Yellow-legged Gull, Kingfisher, Spoonbill, Northern Wheatear and a resting Short-toed Eagle.  Also a few overflying Cormorant.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

Next the onward journey to El Rocio where we picked up both (Common) and Azure-winged Magpies, the latter now referred to as "Iberian Magpie."  Upon arrival just a small, almost damp, patch of water at the far end which held a few Flamingos and Lapwing.    A nearby Pied Flycatcher before we drove on so as to take the circular walk at the "Palacio de Acebron" at the very far end of the paved road leading into the La Rocina Visitors Centre.  However, before driving to the end a quick walk round the pine trees just inside the reserve produced Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper and the main walk around the palacio revealed very many Pied Flycatchers along with more Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher along with Chiffchaff, Robin and Wren.

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Such a long day so pleased to eventually find our apartment in Matalascanas with the temperature having eventually topped out at 34C.  Standing on the balcony watching a beautiful sunset we even had many Barn and Red-rumped Swallows along with House Martins flying around in front of us taking a final feed for the day, not to mention Spotless Starlings, Sardinian Warbler, House Sparrow and Robin.

Sunset over Matalascanas

Birds seen:

Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Night Heron, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Penduline Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting. 

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

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