Monday 10 April 2017

Birding Huelva: Day 4

Friday 7 April

Day 4: El Rocio and the Donana National Park

Time to depart Punto Umbria and make our way to Tarifa via the Donana National Park.  An hour or so later, after taking breakfast on the way, we were parked up outside the SEO Vistors centre at El Rocio having already recorded Azure-winged Magpie, Corn Bunting, Woodchat Shrike and Stonechat.  What a lovely and amazing little town this is and, for the first time in many years, lots and lots of water; indeed, more I think than I have ever seen.

Recording House Martins, Collared Doves, Spotless Starings as we drove through the town we were soon wondering where the little islands in the main pool might have gone, the water being so deep.  No shortage of Black-winged Stilts and Red-crested Pochards and soon we also found Common Pochard, Shoveler and Mallard. A few Jackdaws were flying round and immediately next to the Centre a new heronry containing mainly Glossy Ibis along with Cattle Egret and a few Night Herons.  Further over on the water we found flocks of both Flamingo and Spoonbill along with the occasional Grey Heron and a few Gadwall.  Not as many as a winter visit but still a good number of Greylag Geese on the far water.  The White Storks were on their nests and we had both Red and Black Kites in the sky along with Common Kestrel.

Bee-eater Abejarucco Europea Merops apiaster
Both Cormorant and Griffon Vulture were seen in the sky and around us calling Cetti's Warblers.  There was also a small flock of Spanish Sparrows feeding alongside their House Sparrow cousins.  No sooner had we had another flypast of both swallows than both Pallid and Common Swift were recorded and whilst I missed the passing pair of Black Tern I did return in time to see the Whiskered Terns and a Raven.

Spanish Sparrow Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis
Next came the long drive over to the large water at the Dehesa de Abajo recording very many Woodchat Shrikes, a single Iberian Grey Shrike and Corn Buntings on the way and a short stop produced a whole raft of small birds including Nightingale, another Common Redstart, Great Tit, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.  A Hoopoe flew away as we departed.

Female ("Ring-tail) Montagu's Harrier Aguillucho Cenizo Circus pygargus
A short drive down the track towards the Valverde centre produced a Northern Wheatear, more Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins.  However, it was the numerous Bee-eaters and a good-sized flock of Sand Martins that really drew our attention plus the handful of feeding Lesser Kestrel.  Before deciding that we did not have sufficient time to spare if we were going to check out the Dehesa de Abajo before the long drive  over to Tarifa we had a rather lovely female Montagu's Harrier and a reasonably close Purple Heron.

Purple Heron Garza Imperial Ardea purpurea
Arriving at the large lake at the Dehesa de Abajo we appreciated how much the wind had suddenly picked up as we found choppy waters and relatively few birds.  A few Great Crested and Little Grebes and even a rather lovely Black-necked Grebe along with Mallard, Shoveler and Red-crested Pochard and a fair-sized flock of Flamingos at the back of the water.  No shortage of resident White Storks and a passing Marsh Harrier.  Meanwhile, the Reed and Cetti's Warblers were happily singing away

Even the local, resident Jackdaws Grajilla Corvus monedula were taking shelter in the Bald Ibis nest sites
Then it was the long drive to Tarifa with a very strong cross-wing making driving very tiring but a very short detour enabled us to see the Bald Ibis hunkered down on their nests accompanied by the local Jackdaws and a passing Yellow-legged Gull.  But, on the other hand, the four days had produced a total in excess of 120 species including 15 new species for the year.

Even in very dark conditions there is no disguising the fact that these Bald Ibis Ibis Eremita Geronticus eremita are ugly-looking birds!

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Bald Ibis, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Purple Heron, Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-legged Gull, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

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