Monday 24 December 2018

Donana with John and Jenny Wainwright

Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Monday 24 December

And now for the report of John and Jenny Wainwright's visit to the far west of Andalucia taking in both the Donana National Park and the the wonderful Odiel Marshes.

Donaña Trip Day One: 15 December

A very warm day for our trip down

Lots of Buzzards on the way as well as Ravens, Spotless Starlings and Woodpigeons.  As we drew nearer El Rocio, White Storks started to appear as did Black Kites and a few Common Kestrels.  In the fields Cattle Egrets and White Wagtails were logged and in the trees Azure-winged and Common Magpies were seen. 

After depositing our belongings in the Hotel Toruno, we took a walk along the marismas.  I lost count of how many Pintails there were it must have run into hundreds, along with Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Grey Herons and Black-winged Stilts.  A single Purple Swamphen flew into a reed bed to our front and scuttled away into the depths.  While atop we noted Cetti's Warbler, Stonechats and Chiffchaffs.  A party of 40 or so White Storks landed at the far end of the marismas while on an island of reeds three Marsh Harriers alighted.  On the small grassy islands, Shovelers, Mallard and Little Egrets along with a dozen or more Greylags grazed, then a small flock of Glossy Ibis landed.
At the visitors centre only Coot and Moorhen were seen along with a Serin.  Walking back to the hotel five Snipe were spotted in the end of a flattened reed bed and as we were about to enter the hotel a Black Stork flew over.
Time for a beer me tomorrow we head for the Valverde centre.

Donaña Trip Day Two: 16 December  -  Valverde Centre

A dull day, rain is expected this afternoon.

As we headed out on the Villamanrique road lots of Common Magpies and White Wagtails were noted and on the "bump road" we saw Buzzards, Ravens an Iberian Grey Shrike, Stonechats and Woodpigeon.  As we neared Villamanrique we saw Azure-winged Magpies, Chaffinches and Black Redstart.  After filling up with diesel we headed for the Valverde centre taking the old "plastic road".

Black Stork Ciconia nigra (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

A few Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings were seen before we reached the water catchments that line the road on the left.  Here we located White Stork, a single Black Stork, Great White Egrets, Cattle and Little Egrets.  In the fields to our right another four Black Storks were spotted.  In the bushes Greenfinches, Corn Buntings, House Sparrows, Blackbirds and Meadow Pipits were added to the list.  As we reached the end of the catchments more Great White Egrets were noted as well as Cormorants.  Several Marsh Harriers - male and female - were logged as well as a glorious male Hen Harrier, then a Red Kite came over. The count of Buzzards was steadily increasing as seemingly every fourth post held one.   As we stopped at a cut-in in the bank a group of six Purple Swamphens flew out as well as two Mallard and two Great White Egrets and a Little Grebe was spotted here as well.  In a large flooded field we spotted Ruff, Little Stints Lapwings and Golden Plovers, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, White and Yellow Wagtails, Common Cranes, Snipe, Redshank, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Moving along we spotted Spoonbills and then Jenny asked for me to stop, she had spotted a Great Bittern in the reed bed just prior to the Lesser Kestrel breeding site.  We called in at the centre and logged the sighting as requested.  Nothing much here except Coots and Greylags.  So after having a bite to eat here we turned left out of the gate.  Lots of Lesser Kestrels about while in a field we noted two more Marsh Harriers and a pair of Ravens along with a few Crested Larks and a Hoopoe.   On the barbed wire fences we logged Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Zitting Cisticola, Stonechats and Linnets.  And in the stream below a Green Sandpiper flew off.

We left the verde reserve to have a look at the "Abajo" lake here we found hundreds of Common Pochard, Mallard, Shoveler but by now the rain was hammering it down, so we turned back and on the left we saw three Purple Swamphens in a rice paddy along with several thousand Glossy Ibis, Grey Herons, White Storks, Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Barn Swallows and House Martins.

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We then took a detour down the "green lane track" where we located a Black-winged Kite having its lunch on a pylon, and as we headed home another of the former was noted on a power line.
It's getting very dark now so its back to the hotel.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Donaña Trip Day 3: 17 December

A very bright but chilly wind after the fog lifted.

As we left El Rocio for the Odiel Marshes we logged Buzzard, Azure-winged and Common Magpies, Hoopoe, Iberian Grey Shrike and Ravens.  

At the first hide the water was shrouded in mist although we did pick out Mallard.  So we moved along to the Visitors Centre, where the tide was in but still enough mud and reeds to glimpse Grey Plover, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Little Stints, Whimbrel and Black-headed Gull.   A nice surprise was the Red-breasted Merganser our first for Spain, but it was a short stay for this bird.  Jenny spotted a Kingfisher but I was a bit slow here, but I did get another one later on.  We then walked down to the pier, where we saw Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Redshank, a Common Sandpiper and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits.   A further walk along the boardwalk through the trees gave us Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Sardinian Warblers, Azure-winged and Common Magpies.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We then drove down to the point en route seeing Osprey on the river bank, Great White Egrets, Cattle and Little Egrets, Whimbrel, Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Redshanks, Greenshanks and Audouin´s Gulls.  Walking out to the beach we found Black Redstart, Meadow Pipits, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, House and Spanish Sparrows. Coming back to the centre we logged Ravens, Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Grey Herons.  The Osprey was at the nest area and in the same field Common Kestrels were hunting.

Back at the hide we picked up Gadwall, Little Egret and Black-winged Stilts.  Getting late so back to hotel.

Donaña Trip Day 4: 18 December

Another bright but chilly day.

We left the hotel and headed for Dehesa de Abajo, lots of Azure-winged and Common Magpies, White Storks, Collared Doves, Ravens and Stonechats en route.  As we passed the rice paddies, Black and White Storks were noted along with Grey Herons, Great White Egrets and Green Sandpipers.
At the Abajo lake, the whole lake was covered in ducks , mainly Shovelers, Mallard and Common Pochard, a few Red-crested Pochard were seen as well as Common Coots, Moorhens, Squacco Heron and Purple Swamphens.  The bushes and trees here held House and Spanish Sparrows, Cetti´s and Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Zitting Cisticolas and a couple of Robins.  While the power lines had Spotless and Common Starlings on them.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Further along the road we stopped at the Night Heron roost where we had the latter, a Little Grebe and a pair of Ferruginous Ducks.  At the next pond we found another pair of Ferruginous Ducks, Little Egret, White Storks and Jackdaws. 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca below the Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We then headed for the ferry at Coral del Rio taking the cross country route down to Osuna, on the way Buzzards, Common Kestrels, Black Kites and Cormorants.

At Osuna the fields had been flooded and even the train was on a go slow as the flood had washed over the line.  Here we picked up more Ravens, Red and Black Kites and taking one of the bridges over the railway line we spotted seventeen Great Bustards (only fifteen in photo couldn´t quite sqeeze the others in!!), two Common Cranes and a Marsh Harrier, while in the fields we saw White Wagtails, Crested and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Linnets, Stonechats and Hoopoes.  As we left the area and joined the A92 homeward an Iberian Grey Shrike and a few Goldfinches were noted. 

Great Bustards Otis tarda (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Another altogether successful trip.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia with Redshanks Tringa totanus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

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

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