Friday 31 October 2014

Rio Velez and Sierra Tejeda with John and Jenny

Thursday 30 October 

Just received a report from John and Jenny Wainwright and it would appear that all is happening both at the river and the lower picnic area where there is a very small waterfall.  Not content with Mistle Thrushes, John and Jenny managed to find a very obliging Dipper which hung around long enough to have its photo taken.  It must have been a very quiet morning with no bus loads of children or noisy hikers.  Well done, anyway.

Torre del Mar & the Tejedas: Thursday 30 October

A very pleasant day with a light breeze.  Just out of the village limits we saw two Hoopoes and a few House Sparrow, Spotless Starlings and some Collared Doves.

After our visit to the Torre del Mar market, we drove round to the Rio Velez. At the bridge a couple of Rove Doves and Chiffchaffs.  At the hide we found Stonechats, Mallard, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Goldfinches, Collared Doves and masses of Chiffchaffs and two Cormorants flew over.

Sanderlings Correlimos Tridactilo Calidris alba on the beach (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

On our way to the beach lots of butterflies including Small Whites, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods were seen in the dappled areas.  At the beach and looking out to sea a single adult Gannet, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls, whilst on the beach itself a group of five Sanderlings ran frantically searching for food. On the estuary a single Grey Heron, Mallard, Common Coots and a Crested Coot(collared) were noted and in the reed beds more Chiffchaffs, Cetti´s Warblers, Stonechats, House Sparrows and an Red Avadavit were logged. On the return to the car a Cattle Egret, a male Black Redstart, a Snipe, Mistle Thrush and Linnets were located.

Black redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ocruros (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
On the way home we decided to call into the Tejeda area.  Our first stop was the "El Rio" picnic site where we found Robins, Grey Wagtails, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Crossbills, Long-tailed Tits,
Firecrest, Nuthatches and, to our great surprise, a Dipper which stayed long enough for photos.

Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinlus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Moving on to Alcazar for a cuppa, the inimitable Crossbills and Nuthatches were there as were Coal, Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Crested Tits, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Chaffinches, Chiffchaff, Blackcaps, Crag Martins, a Sparrowhawk and last but not least a dark-phase Red Squirrel.

Retracing our steps an up to the old railway at Venta de Zafaraya we saw Crag Martins, a good number of Chough ( I lost count at forty), Black Wheatears, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Great Tits, Mistle Thrushes, Linnets, Goldfinches, Blackbird and a Southern Grey Shrike.

Mistle Thrush Zorzal Charlo Turdus viscivorus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the drive to Salar, Jackdaws, Calandra Larks, Corn Buntings and two Ravens were noted.

The introduced Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristala at the Rio Velez (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Fuente de Piedra

Thursday 30 October 

The Grebe Gathering at the Laguneta
A committee meeting in Antequera this mroning so able to spend a couple of sunny hours at Fuente de Piedra during the mid-afternoon under clear blue skies and warm weather with the temperature in the upper mid-twenties.  But where is the water?  No shortage at the laguneta at the back but the main lagoon seemed almost dry with only the odd damp patch here and there, which probably explained the very few Flamingos present.  Most of the bird life on the main "pool" was resting and included both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls along with the odd Grey Heron and a small number of Dunlin and Ringed Plover seeking out some food at the edges.  But no shortage of Black-winged Stilts.

Can you find and name the four species at the laguneta?
More birds on the laguneta but by no means could the water be described as "full" nevermind "crowded."  Just the few Mallards and Shovelers plus a few Little Grebes but quite a "flock" of Black-necked Grebes of varying ages.  Similarly, a few Coots and the odd Moorhen along with some Flamingos and an assortment of the above gulls.  A number of Jackdaws were working the fields next to the water along with a small party of Spotless Starlings and, of course, the resident House Sparrows were in attendance.  A single Snipe was feeding in the long grass at the water's edge below me and a couple of Stonechats continued to put in an appearance.  However, the dominant wader was the Lapwing with sightings on both the  laguneta and main pool.

Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus

Away to the left on a field adjacent to the main laguna, when viewed from the Visitors Centre, about 150 Crane formed a tight group and, on moving to the Mirador de Cantarranas, a further quartet were found in the company of a couple of Cattle Egrets and a Little Egret.  Very little water here but sufficient to support a dozen duck, equally divided by Mallard and Shoveler.  A Blackcap dashed into the Olive trees.  Continuing around the main lauguna in an anti-clockwise direction I came across a few Crested Larks, White Wagtails and a small charm of Goldfinches.

Finally, approaching the level crossing, I took the unpaved road to the left to cut through the olive groves and arable land to the entrance to the Reserve just below the railway overbridge and came across a rather lovely Southern Grey Shrike and a single male Kestrel.  The final birds were a pair of Collared Doves as I started back to the railway bridge to make may way home.

Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackcap, Southern Grey Shrike,  Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

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

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day Four

Sunday 26 October

The final day; time to pack up my kit and gradually make my way back to Casa Collado in the Axarquia but not without much birding on the way including crossing the mighty Guadalquivir by the small car ferry from Coria del Rio.  With an extra hour of daylight in the morning and breakfast not served before 9 am, I had time to visit the lake at El Rocio where I was immediately rewarded with a sight of the perched Spanish Imperial Eagle on the top of his favourite dead tree before concentrating on the water in front of me.  The House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings were busy around me along with a single Black Redstart that was obviously very keen to find some food after the long night.

Lots of Flamingos and Greylag Geese on the water and a very large flock of Black-tailed Godwits. I had a couple of Snipe feeding below me and a little further away many Lapwings and Black-winged Stilts.  Avocets were in good numbers towards the back of the water along with Shovelers, Mallards and Teal.  White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs foraged in the reeds and there was a continuous barrage from the Cetti's Warblers.  A couple of Common Sandpipers worked the water's edge and the Cattle Egrets concentrated on the mud displaced by the wild horses.  Whilst watching the Snipe and searching for more I even managed to find a single Meadow Pipit along with another Zitting Cisticola.  As I drive back towards the hostal for breakfast the village Rock Doves arrived.

My first stop was back at the Dehesa de Abajo where the number of Flamingos appeared less than seen on Thursday but, on the other hand, some had taken to the flooded rice fields now that the crop had been harvested.  A few Little Grebes seen but mostly Shoveler along with some Mallards, many Red-crested Pochards, Coots and at least four Marbled Duck.  However, before this the journey across the water had produced a Robin, both Azure-winged and (Common) Magpie, lots of Stonechats and a few Black Redstarts along with a number of Wood Pigeons.  As soon as I neared the water and passed the rice fields there were scores of White Storks in just about every field accompanied by very many Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets.  With one group of White Storks on a flooded field behind the road I also found a flock of about an hundred or more Glossy Ibis.  Naturally, there were marsh harriers quartering the field plus a single Booted Eagle above me.

Glossy Ibis Morito Europeo Plegadis falcinelus
A single Barn Swallow followed by a single House Martin flew over the the three birders checking out the water and then, returning to the water, we found both Gadwall and a number of Jackdaws on the far bank along with numerous Avocets and Black-winged Stilts.  The occasional Cormorant drifted across and, as before, both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls were recorded.

A very small part of the numerous Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
Next followed the long drive to the Brazo del Este which, I hoped, would be just as fruitful as the rice field of the Donana.  I was determined to find the ferry crossing at Coria del Rio and, having found it and crossed the river, I mad my way eastwards to the chosen area around Pinzon.  It seemed so easy but, driving along one of the worst roads I have come across (not a track but a badly broken road) I followed the signpost which took me in the wrong direction and, almost an hour later, I arrived once again to where I had made my original turn to the Brazo!  back again and this time ignored the sign and followed the red arrow pained underneath showing the opposite direction.  Result, a straight-forward, albeit still an awful road, journey to the desired area.  However, all was not without profit on the original detour as I had a lovely view of a Red Kite and a pair of Buzzards plus many more Northern Wheatears, Crested Larks and Stonechats.

Buzzard  Busardo Ratonea Buteo buteo overhead again

A mixture of harvested, flooded, ploughed and remaining crops in the fields as I drove down the main track.  This is not a good time to come across other vehicles as the dust clouds made even the headlights superfluous.  The first pool on the left produced numerous Black-winged Stilts and then two flocks of Glossy Ibis with at least a hundred birds in each.  A Green Sandpiper flew away from me and thee were also plenty of Coots and Mallards to be seen as well as the hundreds of White Storks.  Grey Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets here, there and everywhere but also a couple of Great White Egrets and a trio of Black Storks.

Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra and with (larger) Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea below
A pool to the right contained mainly Black-headed Gulls and a few Coots and Black-winged Stilts but also a number of Purple Swamphens.  To the back on the river itself a score or more Spoonbills were resting and feeding.  Checking the Glossy Ibis at another pool on the left I managed to find a trio of Ruff and a couple of Little Grebes whilst, overhead, the Marsh Harriers continued quartering the area.  Finally, no sign of any weavers but a tree full of Corn Buntings and, in with the swarms of House Sparrows feeding on the spilt rice a good number of their cousins, the Spanish Sparrow.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinelus with Ruff  Combatiente Philomachus pugnax

And so it was time to return home and passing a Sardina Warbler and a couple of Thekla Larks as I climbed the mountain so recording a total of 100 species, somewhat less than I had hoped, and the task of completing the write up and processing the photographs, an on-going job!

yet more Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day Three

Saturday 25 October  

Azure-winged Magpie Rabilargo Cyanopica cyanus
Up early and checked out of the apartments before 8 so that I could be at the Odiel Visitors Centre at daybreak, the idea being to have a last minute check on what was about before setting off for the Donana.  In the event I was too early as their was insufficient light so also made a wasted return ride to the Juan Carlos pool but, upon returning to the small pool next to the salt works I could at least make out Black-winged Stilts, Shovelers, Mallards, Coots and Gadwall before continuing on to the Donana National Park.

A brief stop at about km post 14 enabled me to walk through the tress to the main lake and check the "hidden" corner where, as expected, I found Coot, Mallard, a couple of Squacco Herons, Grey Herons and over-flying Cormorants.  Also present were a couple of Moorhens and I finally located two Purple Swamphens.  In the trees around me the Azure-winged Magpies were active as I mad my way back to the main road and the car.

The next stop was at the El Acebuche Visitors Centre.  Here there was no water at all but, nevertheless, I was welcomed by the resident Azure-winged and (Common) Magpies.  No sooner through the entrance building and I picked up both a Hoopoe and a single Northern Wheatear.  Also flying around the "home" area were Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  A Robin flew up into the tree in front of me as I made my way right to the first hide.  No birds but I did find a grazing Red Deer.  Nothing to be seen at the second hide and as I made my way back a male Blackbird dashed across the boardwalk in front of me whist Chiffchaffs fed in the trees and Chaffinches moved about the larger trees.  As usual, there were Stonechats, Black Redstarts and Crested Larks to be seen but the best sighting was that of a winter plumage Reed Bunting posing very nicely in a tree above the reed bed.

Red Deer Shikar safaris at la Rocina

On towards the La Rocinas Centre where, at least, there was a little water, passing more Stonechats, both magpies and at least two Southern Grey Shrikes on the roadside fences and wires.  The shallow water held five Little Egrets and a single Spoonbill along with a couple of foraging White Wagtails.  A Raven flew over and a Great Tit was seen in the pine trees.

Spoonbill Espatular Comun Platalea leucorodia

Now it was the long journey towards the track leading down to the main Juan Valverde Visitors Centre.  Regular appearance of Magpies and more Stonechats and a Black Redstart and the occasional Buzzard.  But, coincidence or not, in the same area where I regularly come across Black-shouldered Kites here they were again.  A pair "dancing" in the sky just above a pylon and obviously so bust engaged in their activity that I had time to stop the car and jump out with the camera before the birds moved away out of sight.  Wonderful!

The beautiful Black-shouldered Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus dances away

Continuing on I had regular sightings of Cattle Egrets among the cattle and horses plus the first of many White Storks.  Lots of House Sparrows as I drove down the track on the long journey to Valverdes and the occasional Northern Wheatear.  Half-way down near the water beds on my left I found both Corn Buntings and a small flock of Linnets not to mention the any Goldfinches.  The "dog-leg" over the canal bridge produced a pair of Black-winged Stilts and the first Cetti's Warblers whilst Marsh Harriers quartered the wider area.  More Northern Wheatears and Common Kestrels but a little further on where the rice had been harvested a very small flock of Lesser Kestrels.  In the fields to my right were numerous Grey Herons, Little Egrets and White Storks but then, at last, a pair of Black Storks.  Not content with this find I was suddenly looking at a pair of Common Cranes, my first sighting of the winter.

Juvenile Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra (above) with Crane Grulla Comun Grus grus below

Just before reaching the Juan Valverdes Centre I came across a family of Fallow Deer grazing in the long grass to my right.  At the centre itself I found that there was a good-sized pool behind the building but only a limited number of birds.  Coots and Mallards predominated but also a few Greylag Geese. Not a long stop and as I continued on the anti-clockwise circuit I was joined by a trio of Griffon Vultures and yet more Common Kestrels.  A single Red Kite made an added bonus and even here there were Buzzards to be seen along with the many Crested Larks and Stonechats.

Pair of Fallow Deer Dama dama hinds  - but the buck's hiding in the long grass
A stop at the large pumping station produced at least a dozen Great White Egrets in the company of the smaller Little Egrets plus a quartet of Black Storks, one adult and three juveniles.  Also in the area I picked up yet another Zitting Cisticola and whilst trying to follow the moving Corn Bunting along a dry bank I was suddenly focused on yet another Northern Wheatear.  However, in returning to the bunting I then found a female Cirl Bunting to ad to the species list for the day.

A few of the dozen Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba
Time eventually to return to El Rocio and find my hostal for the night and then a quick visit to the lake and the SEO Visitors Centre.  A very bright, low sun made everything in silhouette but I was able to pick out the many Flamingos, Coots, Lapwings, Black-winged Stilts, AvocetsBlack-tailed Godwits, Mallards and Shovelers.  In addition, the resident breeding Spanish Imperial Eagle left its regular roosting tree and drifted over accompanied by its mate giving good views.  We even had three Griffon Vultures over the Centre.  Also seen during the day were the three regular Gulls, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged.
The majestic Spanish Imperial Eagle Aguila Imperial Iberica Aquila adalberti high above El Rocio
White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia and with a pair of Black Storks (below)

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel,  Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, White wagtail, Robin, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Magpie, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Monday 27 October 2014

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day Two

Friday 24 October 

Black-tailed Godwit Aguja Colinegro Limosa limosa
A day to concentrate of the Marismas del Odiel  with a final cal in at the fresh water lake at El Portil. A little late getting away as I had a meeting with the apartment complex manager which promises good for future visits to the area but, nevertheless, the day's total was only a little short of the sixty mark but with some noticeable absentees including Little Ringed Plover and marsh Harrier.  But, at least, I did get an early sighting of one of the local Ospreys flying overhead within an hour of arriving on site.  I even had a Magpie foraging outside the front door of the complex whilst meeting with the manager!

Greenshank Archibebe Claro Tringa nebularia
Passing both Rock Dove and Azure-winged Magpies followed by Cattle Egret on the short journey I arrived at the Visitors Centre about and hour before low tide to find the banks awash with waders.  The short stretch leading up to the Visitors Centre had already produced a Southern Grey Shrike on the wires and Cormorants were busy flying to and from the waters.  Where to look first?  Lots of Black-tailed Godwits and smaller waders included Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone and Little Stint. No shortage of Curlews, Black-winged Stilts and Common Sandpipers along with numerous Little Egrets and Herons.  The usual three gulls present as I walked round tot he small pool adjacent to the salt works, passing both Robin and Chiffchaff on the way.
Curlew  Zarapito Real  Numenius arquata
The water here held a number of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal and Pochard.  More Dunlins and Black-winged Stilts along with Ringed Plovers and White Wagtails.  Chiffchaffs feeding in the neighbouring reeds and Cetti's Warbler calling.   A good number of Coots but no Moorhen to be seen. On the other side of the road at the back of the salinas I could hear, then see, the resident Flamingos.

One of very many Little Egrets Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Checking out the neighbouring salinas on either side of the road I soon added Greenshank and Grey Plover whilst a single Osprey passes overhead.  One pool held a single Great White Egret and three of the small pools also held more Flamingos.  The roadside vegetation held Stonechats, Chiffchaffs and Zitting Cisticolas.

Just two Great White Egrets Garceta Grande Egretta alba to be seen
Driving down to and beyond the Juan Carlos pool I also found a couple of Oystercatchers and five Sandwich Terns.  More Cormorants, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks but also great to see so many Curlews and Whimbrels.  Finally, near the water's edge on the town side  a small flock of Audouin's Gulls were taking their rest.  The return journey produced a coupe of Kestrels and a Crested Lark and arriving back at the salinas I was surprised and delighted to meet up with Manu Mojarro who was leading a handful of Dutch birders.  Whilst here Manu pointed out the score or more of Stone Curlews that had been resting on the side of the pool, which took off southwards even as we watched, I also watched the dozen Spoonbills resting on the far bank having just found a single Kentish Plover.

Five resting Sandwich Terns Charran Patinegro Sterna sandvicensis with two Little Terns Sterna albifrons at rear?
After a short interlude to drive into Huelva itself to buy a replacement lens cap for the camera, I finally ended up at the fresh water lake in El Portil.  Again, good numbers of Shoveler and Mallards along with scores of Black-winged Stilts and Coots but also Teal and about a dozen Pintail.  No Red-crested but a good number of Common Pochards were also present.  Both Little and Black-necked Grebes were recorded and a Moorhen paddled across the water towards us. The Chameleons Chamaeleo chamaeleon seem to love this area and before long Manu had found a small green specimen for us all to get a close look.

Female Pintail Anade rabudo Anas acuta with record shot of male below
Then it was back to my apartment to recover and take advantage of the very warm weather by taking a swim in the very inviting pool.  Forget the House Sparrows that arrived a little later, it was a female Black Redstart that hopped down to see what was going on as I dried and dressed myself!

Spoonbills and more waders seen on the marismas

Part of a resting flock of Spoonbills Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia

Oystercatcher Ostrero Euroasiatico Haematopus ostralegus
Whimbrel Zarapito trinador Numenius phaeopus
Grey Plover Chorlito Grid Pluvialis squatarola

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint,  Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie,  Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Four Days Birding towards and In the Donana - Day One

23 October 2014  

Donana Trip – Day 1

Greater Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus at the Dehesa de Abajo
Later away than I had hoped but made good progress with very little traffic and the sun was shining in an almost perfectly clear blue sky so onward and upward as I made to Punta Umbria, just the other side of the Odiel in Huelva Province.   But no one is going to contemplate a direct drive, there had to be some birding on the way. In my case it was to leave the motorway to follow the “Osuna Route” in the hope that I might find a Great Bustard;  I did not.  The next diversion was to take the Coria del Rio route rather than the motorway from Sevilla so that I could stop at the Dehesa de Abajo and then wind my way on via El Rocio, but no stopping, down to Matalascnas and then on through the dock area of Huelva to once again pick up the short motorway extension to my eventual destination.  For two nights I will have the privilege of staying at the Apatamentos Aldetur and very smart it is too.  Top floor apartment with a balcony overlooking the Odiel itself so, once the sun is in the right direction, I should have some great views.

Distant view of a Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo 
What of the forty plus birds seen during the journey?  The usual Collared Doves, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings as I started off along the back road to pick up the new high speed railtrack and then, at the first high bridge, over a dozen Ravens hanging around.   However, a better sighting near the small patch of reeds on either side of the road where it crosses a small gully was a Sedge Warbler, no doubt fattening up for the coming flight over to Africa, along with a couple of Zitting Cisticolas. But the main bird, indeed for the following four days, was the Stonechat.  It might not have produced the highest total but it certainly was the most seen species; they were here, there and everywhere.

Red Kite Milano Real Milvus milvus
The occasional Buzzard and Common Kestrel but a general lack of raptors until three Griffon Vultures drifted across the shy above and, quartering the fields, two or three Marsh Harriers.  Next up were numerous Crested Larks, the odd Corn Bunting and a very stationary Southern Grey Shrike on the wires after crossing the third bridge towards Lantejuera.  The two shooters were having a rest whilst the dogs sniffed around and not three hundred metres further on I came across two small coveys of Red-legged Partridge.  Perhaps I should have scared them off but with chicken brains they would just as likely have flown straight towards the waiting guns.  At least I heard no shots as I retraced my steps so that I could complete the loop back to the motorway and by way of compensation actually saw a very late Black Kite.  Far better, though, was the lovely Red Kite as I turned left at the crossroads and watched over thirty White Storks soaring above.

Greater Flamingos Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus 
Then the drive via Sevilla down to the Donana and making my only stop at the Dehesa de Abajo where there was plenty of water.  The rice harvest was underway so lots of activity on the fields cutting, transporting and even burning stubble.  How very strange, though, not to find a single Squacco or Night Heron.  Loads of White StorksLittle Egrets and Grey Herons on the harvested rice fields along with good numbers of Cattle Egrets.  On the water itself I soon discovered where all the Flamingos had gone!  There were well over three thousand present along with hundreds of ducks. Mainly Shoveler but also good numbers of Red-crested Pochard and slightly less mallards.  Lots of Coots and at the back of the water hundreds of Black-winged Stilts and scores of Avocets.  The odd Jackdaw was seen on the far bank whilst, back on the water, both Little and Black-necked Grebes were recorded.  Gulls, in relatively small numbers, were represented by Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls along with the occasional Lesser Black-backed.

Stonechats Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus of all ages and gender here, there and everywhere
Also of interest were a small number of hirundines feeding over the water near the road in front of me.  Mainly Barn Swallows and House Martins but also a very small number of Sand Martins.  A Cetti's Warbler always seemed to be calling and Chiffchaffs were very active in the surrounding trees and bushes along with a mall number of Goldfinches.  A single Green Sandpiper took flight from the muddy field behind me and on closer inspection I also found a small number of Ringed Plovers and a good-sized flock of Lapwing.  Similarly, a number of White wagtails were recorded as I made my way on towards El Rocio I had Black Redstart and numerous Azure-winged and (Common) Magpies.  A long tiring journey and then I was at my destination in Punta Umbria ready for Day 2 which would be spent in the Marismas del Odiel.

No shortage of Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum to be seen

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Red-leegged Partridge, Little Grebe, Back-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticoal, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.