Monday 12 October 2020

Donana Day Two

 Friday 9 October

Mick and I were out of the apartment by 8.30 recording Magpie, Spotless Starling, Robin and Sardinian Warbler before the end of the road.  However, nothing prepared us for coming across more then a score of Collared Doves gathered in one spot.  Driving towards Huelva we encountered Azure-winged Magpies, Stonechat, Corn Bunting and Greenfinch before arriving at our first stop, a hidden corner overlooking the shallow end of the large lake on the right hidden away from the road.  Great Crested Grebe had already been seen on the main lake and now we able to find not only Cormorants resting on posts in the water but also an Osprey enjoying its fishy breakfast.  In front of us both Coot and Moorhen whilst Waxbills flitted about and Cetti's Warblers were calling.  A lone male Blackbird dashed through the neighbouring bushes and then  a Little Grebe was seen diving out towards the main pool.

Mick in search of the elusive Squacco Heron

A Purple Swamphen was heard but not seen unlike the Kingfisher that flashed past and a small number of Black-headed Gulls at the far end of the main lake.  Having watched a Buzzard take a leisurely, low flight along the far side I walked up the bank behind to find a couple of Great Tit.  A Blackcap was feeding in the brambles below and back to the water in time to see the few seconds it took for the Little Bittern to fly in and disappear into the reeds.  Just when we were about to move on a Reed Warbler was disturbed and Mick took a closer look at what looked like a discarded piece of white plastic which then revealed itself as a well-camourflaged Squacco Heron; target bird recorded.

Distant record shot of the Squacco Heron Garcilla Cangrejera Ardeola ralloides

Next it was on to the brick hide overlooking a small pool near the strawberry fields having taken the entrance track at KM13.  Again, more Waxbills and another Blackbird.  On the water itself we found Mallard, Teal and Shoveler and the first Pied Flycatcher of the day.  A couple of Gadwall swam into view and as we were about to depart we had a sight of a Purple Swamphen in the reeds on the far bank and a trio of Snipe flew in as a Kingfisher departed in the opposite direction.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta but note the three Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis

And so on to the Odiel with a first stop at the small pool just before the Visitors Centre.  Lots of waders feeding including both Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and many Little Stint.  As we checked out the pool we added Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and both Green and Common Sandpiper, not to mention Redshank, Turnstone and Black-winged Stilt.  Both Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls were resting on the water.  Only a few Flamingos here but very many more out on the salinas on the other side of the road. Ere long we also recorded Sanderling and a couple of White Wagtails were found on the far bank.

Mainly Black-tailed Godwits Aguja Colinegra Limosa limosa

Next we made our way the Visitors Centre car park to take a look at the the small river feeding the Odiel itself and then  a visit to the later and quit walk back through the trees to the car park.  A couple of Sandwich Tern were resting and patrolling the main river and our first of very many Whimbrel and Grey Plovers was noted.  Next a Greenshank followed by the first of many Grey Herons to be seen at the overall site.  Goldfinches in the trees and more Ringed Plovers and Little Stints on the now exposed muddy edges.  Walking back through the trees we added both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers along with more Robins.  Finally, before returning to the car, we crossed the road to take a closer look at the nearest salina and found a resting pair of Caspian Terns.

Caspian Terns Pagaza Piquirroja Sterna caspia

Knowing that the car park would be closed by 2 o'clock, we moved the car out and across the bridge to park at at the entrance to the track leading down to the mirador overlooking the far pools.  In the main waters a small flock of Avocet and many Flamingos but looking carefully at the hundreds of Grey Plovers it was a delight to find not only a handful of Red Knot but an individual still in breeding plumage.  On the river side many more waders including another Bar-tailed Godwit and eclipse plumage Red Knot.  However, mainly Little Stints and Ringed Plovers plus more Dunlin.  We even managed to find a few Kentish Plover.

Lots of Grey Plovers Chorlito Gris Pluvialis squatarola to be seen

Time to continue on down the spit towards the Juan Carlos car park noting both White Stork, Yellow-legged Gull and the first of the Curlews on the way.  The tide had receded perhaps further than anticipated so no Spoonbills present but many more Curlew and Whimbrel.  Not just a Kestrel on a pylon but and overflying Osprey and a Dartford Warbler in addition to a few Sardinian Warblers.  And, as might be expected, lots of Little Egrets.  Almost at the far end we took a walk to the Atlantic beach and found a couple of fishing Sandwich Terns but on our way back a rather unexpected juvenile Woodchat Shrike before the first of a few Northern Wheatears.

Curlew Zarapito Real Numenius arquata

Leaving the Odiel we travelled down the Punta Umbria motorway towards the coastal resort of El Portil to check out the fresh water pool.  No ducks on site so no no Pochards of ether variety recorded.  Lots of Grey Herons and and even a single Black-necked Grebe before Mick spotted the visiting Black Tern.  

Black Tern Chlidonias niger at El Portil (PHOTO: Mick Richardson)

But then a little flurry of small birds visiting the nearby trees below us including a single Firecrest and handful of Long-tailed Tits, Pied Flycatcher, Greenfinch and Serin.  A Hoopoe flew over above us and as we were about to depart Mick noticed the single Glossy Ibis almost hidden from view against the bank below the reeds. 

Oystercatcher Ostrero Euroasiatico Haematopus ostralegus

Now well after 5pm and time to see if we could find the immature drake Eider Duck that had been reported as a long-staying visitor to the town since June.  No sign of the bird on the beach so we continued westwards along the coast with many stops to check out the sea without success.  In the process we did actually find more waders and even a trio of Spoonbill and a Crested Tit on one of our stops.  But, having decided that we were not to be rewarded, come 6.30 we started out on the return journey home but one last stop when back in El Portil was finally rewarded with a distant, but very clear, view of our target bird.  We had both seen a new Spanish "lifer" in the the shape of a lovely Eider Duck.  Then it was simply a question of driving back to Matalascanas for a well-deserved drink and meal before heading to the apartment of our final night.  Indeed, the drive back also produced a Red-rumped Swallow and Iberian Grey Shrike.

More about the Eider Duck can be found on the upcoming blog "In search of the Eider Duck" which will, hopefully, be completed by the end of today.

Just in time to catch the passing Osprey Pandion haliaetus at the Odiel Marshes (PHOTO: Mick Richardson)

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Eider Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

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