Sunday, 4 May 2014

Five days in the Donana National Park: Day 5

Sunday 4 May

Summer plumage Curlew Sandpiper

The final day and yet another clear blue sky, very little breeze and warm sunshine; perfect.  For my last Donana outing I chose to visit a little know route near Hinojos.  What an absolute joy even without birds.  It was just like taking a trip down a mythical English country lane, birds seen a bonus.

Starting with the local Collared Doves and White Storks to be followed by plenty of Blackbirds.  The Barn Swallows were bust feeding overhead and then a Buzzard on the lookout for the odd rabbit or two.  Next up a couple of Crested Larks, a Sardinian Warbler and those beautifully-coloured Bee-eaters.  However, the whole of the first part of the drive through the woods was delivering a non-stop supply of Azure-winged Magpies.

Crossing the tiny stream I could hear the Cetti's Warblers calling and soon after my first Stonechat since arriving in the National Park.  Goldfinches were out and about and overhead yet another Black Kite.

Then it was time to start the long journey home but not before a slight detour to take in the steppe area to the west of Osuna.  No sooner had I arrived than a Hoopoe crossed the road to join another on the adjacent grassland whilst, overhead, I had a pair of Red Kites.  Moving onto my favourite stretch of road I was encountering numerous Red-legged Partridges and both Raven and Common Kestrel passed overhead.  A trip down the rutty track to the farm ruin produced at least three pairs of Rollers and, at the farm, a number of Lesser Kestrels.  Not just Rock Doves but a pair of Spanish Sparrows as I made my way back to "Roller Nesting Tower".

Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis
Driving back to the high bridge over the now abandoned high speed rail track I had a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes and a Turtle Dove.  From the top of the bridge I was able to pick out a couple of large, moving, white "blobs" and the scope confirmed they were Great Bustards.  Indeed, whilst studying another bird flew through the view.

Little Stint Correlimos Menudo Calidris minuta
My final stop was at Fuente de Piedra to hand over a new supply of the ABS quarterly magazine Birds of Andalucia and, whilst there, to check on the bird situation late on a Sunday afternoon.  The flooded field on the right of the approach road is now almost dry so just a score of Coots, a dozen Ringed Plover, a couple of Black-winged Stilts and single Common Sandpiper and Redshank.   It looked very much as if Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints had departed for points further north.

Curlew Sandpiper Correlimos Zarapitin Calidris ferruginea with Dunlin Correlimos Comun Calidris alpina in background
A quick look at the laguneta at the back produced all the usuals such as Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Moorhen and AvocetJackdaws were flying around the site and even a couple of Gull-billed Terns graced me with their presence.  Just the one immature Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Ruff Combatiente Philomachus pugnax

Returning via the lower path I noticed that there was still some water on the main road side of the causeway so stopped to have a look.  This is where the small waders had made a necessary retreat so, without further ado, back to the car to exchange scope for camera.  Returning I was able to confirm at least forty Dunlin and about a score of Curlew Sandpipers along with two Little Stint.  Imagine my surprise when, moving another five metres along the causeway in the hope that the other birds I could just make out might be nearer to the camera, I discovered not just a single Ruff but a wonderfully black Spotted Redshank.  Even a couple of House Martins flew over to complete the picture.

Spotted Redshank Archibebe Oscuro Tringa erythropus
Spotted Redshank  and a left leg that looks even longer!
Then it was straight back to Casa Collado, being welcomed home by the resident Thekla Larks and singing Bee-eaters, to complete this last write-up and make a start on trying to sort the photographs for the past five days.  Also, to tally up the sightings and come to a final definitive list of species; perhaps by tomorrow.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Little Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Red Kite, Black Kite, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch

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

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