Monday, 23 June 2014

Day 2: The Donana National Park

Friday 20 June

Today it was take a quick, close look at the lagoon behind my hostal at El Rocio and then head off for the very long drive down the track through the National Park itself to visit the Juan Valverdes Visitors Centre.  The local waters still held all of yesterday's Flamingos and Black-tailed Godwits but I could also see the numerous Black-winged Stilts and Avocets along with feeding Barn Swallows and House Martins.  The resident House Sparrows, Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings were all up and about but I did have my first Wood Pigeon as I made my way back to the car from the SEO Cente.

Bee-eater  Abejaruco Europeo  Merops apiaster
The long drive to the start of the track produced both Azure-winged and common Magpies and there were to be numerous sightings of Black Kites along with a few BuzzardsCrested Larks were on the road side and Bee-eaters on the fences and in the air as I entered the track. A single Red Kite made a pass overhead and, naturally, there were Cattle Egrets amongst the horses and cattle and certainly no shortage of White Storks.  Driving on a handful of Spanish Sparrows were playing around a small bust by a water course and then the first of many Grey Herons along with the occasional Little EgretRed-rumped Swallows overhead near the bend across the first drainage channel  and a single Zitting Cisticola hove into sight.  Similarly, it was a rather strange site to suddenly come across a handful of Corn Buntings.

Green Sandpidper Tringa ochropus
Opposite the retaining pools a number of Linnets were feeding whilst on the pipes across the main stream on the other side of the track a family of Green Sandpipers were resting.  Not far on I stopped to look at a pair of Purple Herons and noticing the small number of Little Egrets further away put my scope up and found the single Great White Egret.  Then it was on to the main bridges where the track takes on an off-set crossroad near the reed bed.  Lots of Barn Swallows feeding overhead but no sign of the Marbled Duck see here at the beginning of May.  However, both Reed and Great Reed Warbler were singing/calling and a Montagu's Harrier drifted over with a few Black Kites for company.

All the Lesser Kestrels were away from their traditional nesting site whilst the local birders completed their studies of the nest and, presumably, ringed the youngsters.  Even the Common Kestrels seemed to keep their distance.  The, approaching the end of the track and once again near the water, I could see the Spoonbills, a number of Glossy Ibis and, of course, more Little Egrets.  On the other hand, it was whilst taking a short detour down the "no exit" track to the right that I came across my only Northern Wheaters of the day.

Magpie  Urraca  Pica pica
At the Visitors centre there was still plenty of water and the local colony of breeding Little and Cattle Egrets along with some Glossy Ibis were still in residence.  A pair of young Common Kestrels from the bird box above the panoramic window had fledged and seemed quite happy to sit on the path on the outside of the glass giving lovely views, especially of their large shining eyes. Also on the water were a number of Mallards, Flamingos and Coots along with a pair of Little Grebe.  Eventually, the Purple Swamphens put in an appearance and there was also a pair of Great White Egrets to be seen.

Purple Heron  Garza Imperial  Ardea purpurea
Eventually, having arrived back at the main road near Isla Mayor, I drove across to the pool below the Dehesa de Abajo to see if anything different was on that water.  A good number of Mallards, Pochards and Great Crested Grebes but, at last, I also found two pairs of Marbled Duck.  Could these be the same two pairs that had been seen in the Donana on my last visit?  There were White Storks and Jackdaws at the back of the water and Barn Swallows and both Common and Pallid Swifts feeding over the same.  Even a couple of Collared Pratincoles put in an appearance.  Nearer the road, both Cetti's and Great Reed Warblers were calling and then my return drive to El Rocio picked up both Woodchat Shrike and a Raven.  Finally, a late evening call to the SEO Centre did not locate the Spanish Imperial Eagle (it had turned quite windy and cloudy so I suspect the adults were hunkered down in the foliage of their favoured tree) but a single light morph Booted Eagle drifted overhead.

A lone Squacco Heron Garcilla Cangrejera Ardeola ralloides in the Egret colony

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Marbled Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Red Kite, Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot,  Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Northern Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Linnet, Corn Bunting.



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

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