Tuesday 23 October 2018

Brazo del Este: Day One

Friday 19 October

Given the early start tomorrow, I left home just after 9am to drive over to my booked hostal near Dos Hermanas on the south-western outskirts of Sevilla.  The forecast tomorrow is absolutely awful with heavy rain expected by 10 so all the more reason to check out some sites today.  A ninety minute stop at Fuente de Piedra followed by exiting the A92 motorway at Junction 80 near Osuna to take the country road that runs almost parallel with the abandoned high speed railtrack and then on to rejoin the A92 at Junction 65 just east of La Puebla de Cazalla.  Finally and afternoon visit to the rice fields at the southern end of the Brazo del Este Natural Park before heading off to my overnight stop.

Given the amount of rain we have received over the past week or so, Fuente de Piedra was still mainly dry with the smallest of a shallow puddle near the boardwalk.  The main laguna looked damp rather than wet and no sign of any water on the field to the left approaching the car park.  No surprise, therefore, re the lack of birds, especially waders.  The first birds seen were a score or more of Jackdaw and there was possible a flock of less than 200 Flamingo on the main water - but none on the full laguneta to the back of the Visitors Centre.  Stopping at the mirador next to the old tree where I disturbed yet more Jackdaws I picked up a number of House Sparrows along with Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Sardinia Warbler.  However, the most common small bird was the Blackcap and they seemed to be everywhere.  The laguna itself held a small number of Ringed Plover and a couple of Lapwing.

Roosting Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

On round to the laguneta which held very few birds.  A couple of Little Grebe and about a dozen Mallard, the only visible duck.  A small number of both Black-winged Stilt and Moorhen and the occasional Linnet and Cetti's Warbler in front of me.  In the distance I did manage to pick up a few Spotless Starlings and Rock Doves.  However, the main bird was the roosting Little Owl seen from the screen on the way back.

Walking towards the boardwalk I added both Serin and Chiffchaff and on reaching the far side the ploughed field in front produced a good number of both Meadow Pipit and Stone Curlew. A single Reed Bunting and a couple of Stonechat completed the list.

Two fo the score or more Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus

So on to Osuna and no sooner had I left the motorway than I had my first Buzzard and a pair of Hoopoe.  On the fence I saw three Iberian Grey Shrike and a couple of noisy Ravens flew over.  Surprise, surprise, from the top of the second bridge I picked up a distant trio of Great Bustard along with a number of Stonechat.  The area produced numerous flocks of sparrows, mainly House but certainly plenty of Spanish Sparrows.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

A single White Wagtail landed on top of the third bridge whilst I was scanning the neighbouring fields and a Common Kestrel above. Once back down on the country road I added the first Crested Lark and then, just beyond the turn off to La Lantejuela, I also saw my first Black Redstart for a while.  A Griffon Vulture wandered over.  No sign of any water below the viaduct but a little further on a most peculiar happening.  usually you only have to slow down, nevermind stop, and any resting Buzzard will quickly depart giving no time for a photograph.  Not on this occasion.  So very dark I initially thought it must be a Black Kite, especially given the bird's complete disinterest in e and the slowing then stopping car less then ten metres away.  A record shot taken through the windscreen then I turned the car to face the field so giving a clear view through my window and still he bird did not depart.  Looking at the bird and later checking the state of it when seen as a photographs this was one very bedraggled raptor and had obviously been feeding/resting on the damp soil judging by the state of its talons.

A rather dark Common Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo
Time to move on and once back on the motorway a kettle of White Storks on my right as I passed the local rubbish dump.  Quite a long journey to Los Palacios and then the entrance to the rice fields of Brazo del Este just beyond Pinzon where it was time to stop for my late picnic lunch.  Again, thousands of Spanish and House Sparrows feeding on the rice and another Kestrel above.  Now we had water birds with very good numbers of Little Egret, Grey Heron and even a handful of Great White Egrets.  Similarly, scores of White Storks to be seen and the regular quartering of the local Marsh Harriers.

Lapwings Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus a plenty at the Brazo del Este
Relatively few duck with Mallard being the only species observed and, surprisingly, only the occasional sighting of a Purple Swamphen which are usually abundant here.  The first ponds produced a number of Coots, but no Moorhens, and then the hundreds of both Lapwing and Glossy Ibis.  Similarly, no shortage of Black-winged Stilts.

But even more Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus
Moving on down the main track I noticed, apart for a few Lesser Black-backed, all the gulls were Black-headed.  A small number of Cormorant were moving about the site and then, on my left, a pair of Common Sandpiper.  At the final, largest, water I found a flock of fifty plus Spoonbill and even more Glossy Ibis along with a couple of Little Grebe.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia with Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

Beyond the pumping station the now earthen track became even worse and the lick to the exit was impassible.  A stop on the bridge produced another Great White Egret and lots of Black-headed Gulls and then it was the long return journey back on the same track but not before finding a Black Stork.  However, stopping to take a closer look at the sparrow flocks did produce a female Yellow-crowned Bishop so not all bad news.  Finally, Collared Doves on the lines as I made my way past Pinzon and on to Dos Hermanas.  Ready for a good night's sleep after the long day then kept awake by a noisy Tawny Owl!

Great White Egret Garceta Grande Egretta alba and three Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Back Redstart, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Yellow-crowned Bishop.

Would it help we swimmers if we had the extra eye-lid?

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