Friday 23 February 2018

Donana National Park

Sunday 18 February

Having attended the ABS meet at Bonanza yesterday, along with my Australian birding neighbour, Bob Ashford we decided to extend our visit by a couple of nights so that we could visit both the Donana National Park and the Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel).  To make things even better, both Derek and Barbara Etherton and John and Jenny Wainwright also took the same option, well almost.  Indeed, with Jerry and Barbara Laycock also in the area with their caravan it looked very much as if there would be eight of us spending a day n the Donana.  Sunday morning saw four us taking a quick look at the coast between Chipiona and Sanlucar where we picked up passing Barn Swallows, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Turnstone and a distant Gannet before heading off to the Dehesa de Abajo on the northern edge of the National Park.

Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
Somehow or other, and almost certainly my fault, we managed to lose contact with each other which saw Derek and Jerry's cars take the direct route to the ferry across the Guadalquivir to Coria del Rio and onto their day in the Donana whilst John followed me from Los Palacios along the awful former road through farm and grazing land to the ferry, arriving almost ninety minutes later from when we made our way to the Dehesa de Abajo.  On the other hand, following the stream meant that we got some wonderful bird sightings including Black Stork as well as White Stork, Little and Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill and Heron along with a range of waders including Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandiper and Black-winged Stilt.  We also picked up Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Greenfinch and very many Chiffchaff.  Raptors seen during the morning included both Red and Black Kite, Marsh and Hen Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel.

Crossing the mighty Rio Guadalquivir to Coria del Rio
Many of these larger birds were also seen on arrival at the Dehesa de Abajo.  On the water itself were numerous Coots and Flamingos along with hundreds of ShovelerCormorants made regular visits to and from the water, which was very high compared with last October's visit, and further searching produced Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard and Pochard along with Little, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe.  The first pool had also produced a resting flock of over 150 Night Herons and we also managed to add Lapwing and Great White Egret.

A few of the 150+ roosting Night Herons Martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax
Smaller birds seen included Bluethroat, Grey Wagtail and many Stonechat.  Not only did we find another Willow Warbler in addition to the many Chiffchaffs, a few Blackcap and Cetti's Warbler but had the great pleasure of also finding a Penduline Tit.  With a passing Raven to add to the resident Jackdaws we then made our way over to El Rocio recording not only more Marsh Harriers but the pair of Black-winged Kites found by John and Jenny.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia defending their nest
A call at the El Rocio lake duly recorded many Flamingo, Coot, Shoveler and Teal but also Spoonbill, Greylag Goose and a number of Snipe.  Naturally, there was also a good stock of Black-winged Stilt.  The short journey across to the La Rocina reserve to visit the woods behind the palace produced a small flock of Waxbill, Stonechat and Black Redstart plus a few Tree Sparrows.

The feeding flock of Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astril
The walk round the wood trail produced sightings and calls of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit along with a Nuthatch, Robin and Siskin.  Then, near the end, we heard then saw a brief glimpse of the Green Woodpecker before finding a resting Kingfisher at the side of the pond along with a half-dozen Night Heron and a couple of Glossy Ibis.  Naturally, this area also provided us with Serin and Chaffinch.   The final bird of the day was an Iberian Grey Shrike on the wires as we made our way 
back to the hotel.

Can you find the resting Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis?

Birds seen:
Greyag Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet.

The Little Egrets Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta have come into roost but there is astranger in theior midst!

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

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