Friday, 2 May 2014

Donana Day 2 with the Wainwrights

Friday 2 May

No sooner do I gt my posting u to date that John's report reached me.  Too late for the day as I had been working on the above and it was well past my bed time so here I ma at just after 6 on the morning after getting all completed before setting out on my next venture via, once more, the SEO Bird Fair at  the Dehesa de Abajo.  Now to John's report:

Doñana Day Two 2nd April 2014

A much cooler day today due to a very nice breeze.

We started off quite early for the Valverde centre and that was the first mistake, the sun was in our eyes up to the point of gaining one of the access roads leading to the centre.

Bee-eater  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Our first sightings were of huge number of Bee-eaters, they were on the power lines, the fence posts and any small twig that could bear their weight.  Then Black Kites appeared then followed two Red Kites, and a pair of Mallard took off as we drew up to take photos of the Spanish Sparrows that were littered over the track and in the tamarisk bushes.  Naturally the pylon tops had its ubiquitous owner in the shape of a White Stork -most of these nests had youngsters in too.  A few House Sparrows and lots of Corn Buntings were about, as well as Cattle Egrets and Spotless Starlings.  Down the track we found Ravens and Buzzards interspersed with the odd Montagu´s Harrier (male and female were seen), Short-toed Eagle, a Booted Eagle and a huge number of Griffon Vultures were noted in the distance.  Melodious and Cetti´s Warblers called from the bushes and two Woodchat Shrikes were heard then seen.

Spanish Sparrow  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Over and above the fields four Collared Pratincoles were harassing a Black Kite, which had probably ventured into their nesting areas, and two Stone Curlew poked their heads out to see what the noise was about – otherwise we would not have seen them.

Having a dust bath were a few more Spanish Sparrows in company with two Short-toed Larks and a Calandra Lark, whilst two Zitting Cisticolas, “zitted” overhead.  Also above we saw Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins and five Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flashed past.

Passing another rather dilapidated field of sunflowers, another two Stone Curlews flew away on our arrival.

The irrigation canals were either very full or had little or no water in, but we did find Blue-headed Yellow (iberiae) and Grey Wagtails, Black-winged Stilts, Grey Herons, as well as a female Marsh Harrier.

We stopped at one of the bridges to try to get pictures of the Great Reed Warblers and was told of a breeding pair of Marbled Teal in that area, which we subsequently picked up.  Also around here we saw an Osprey, another Booted Eagle, a Common Kestrel and a Whinchat.

Whinchat   (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we passed a quite long length of water meadow we disturbed at least seventeen Purple Herons, Spoonbills and a Squacco Heron, while further across the meadows we found Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, more Spoonbills and two Purple Swamphens.  As we approached the Valverde centre a Quail called from the meadow to our left.

Purple Heron   (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the centre the trees were alive with nesting Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons and a pair of Night Herons.  More Purple Swamphens were seen here, as well as Common Coots, Moorhens, Greater Flamingos, Little Grebes, a Pochard, Mallard, more Purple Herons, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons and Cetti´s Warblers.

Night Heron   (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the return leg of the trip only six Lesser Kestrels were seen - which is a very low count - also three Greenshanks were spotted on a small flooded area as well as a good number of Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails (iberiae) and a pair of Gadwalls.

Greenshank   (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
After a rest we ventured down to the marismas in El Rocio, here Bob Wright found us and while we talked he pointed out a Pintail, also about were Greylag Geese, Spoonbills, Common Magpies, Black-winged Stilts, House Martins, Barn Swallows and the Great Reed Warbler was heard from a reed bed. Apparently the Spanish Imperial Eagle has changed nest site and therefore we had no info of where he / they roosted overnight.

I shan´t be sorry to get my boots off tonight after a very long day (but very enjoyable) birding session.

Looking forward to seeing John and jenny later this morning so that we can track down the Black-headed weavers at the far end of the Deheas de Abajo lake and the, for me, it looks my turn to follow the above journey.

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

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