Sunday 26 May 2019

Rutland Water (2)

Sunday 26 May

The one thing about living on the Stamford/Lincolnshire boundary is that you can op down to the local patch at Rutland Water when out buying you morning paper and still be back before your coffee is too cold to drink.  This morning was a case in point.  The forecast suggested rain and it was certainly cloudy but then appeared to brighten up so off I went.  Red Kite overhead as I headed off, purchased my Sunday paper and then  spent little more than half an hour checking out the Burley Fishponds on the North Arm of Rutland Water the a quick nip round to see what was happening at the Visitors Centre feeding station.

Strange how you get used to a mass of wildfowl at the former during the winter months whereas this morning it was plenty of Greylag Geese, many with goslings now swimming out on the water, a good number of Mute Swans and still no shortage of resting Cormorant.  Yes, there was also the occasional Great Crested Grebe and resident Coot plus even a handful of Mallard but very little else other than a small number of Black-headed Gulls and a couple of fishing Common Terns.

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Driving round to the Visitors Centre I picked up a couple of Carrion Crow and regular Wood Pigeon sightings followed by the resident Jackdaw population once on site.  As yesterday, the feeding station was relatively quiet albeit a male Chaffinch was feeding on the ground when I arrived and no sign of a Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis.  But there was an individual at the far end and then a Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus at my end.  Regular visits from Blue and Great Tits along with House Sparrows and a couple of Robins.  A par of male Blackbirds were foraging for dropped food when a couple of Dunnock put in an appearance.  Also at the far end the occasional sound and sight of a Rook from the nearby small rookery.

Dunnock Prunella modularis
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Red Kite, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Robin Erithacus rubecula
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Saturday 25 May 2019

Rutland Water

Saturday 25 May

No sooner complete my six-day birding adventure from the Guadalhorce to the Odiel via Fuente de Piedra, Osuna and the Donana National Park, than I had to rush back to the UK for a friend's funeral next Tuesday.  But it does give me a little time to visit my local patch at Rutland Water.  Here the weather has been very "Malaga-like" with day-time temperatures up to 24C in Lincolnshire and clear, sunny skies.  So, back on my own again, I was able to get over to Rutland Water by 7.15 and spend a total of two hours on site travelling home by completing the anti-clockwise circuit of the water to take in the Lyndon Visitors Centre.  As you might expect, all very green here with full leaf cover on the trees and not the general mass of birds that I find from October through March.

Approaching Egleton I observed Common Starling, Blackbird, Crow and Wood Pigeon and as soon in the car park added Jackdaw.  Much work seems to have been undertaken at the feeding station but the overgrown floor left it difficult to spot the "ground crawlers" and if the new arrangement was to deter visiting squirrels to the feeders then the work has been been a waste as both (there used to be at least five) were occupied by the grey tree rats and one holding a sleeping animal!  Nevertheless, both House Sparrow and Great Tit seemed happy to visit and feed and even the occasional appearance on both Blue Tit and Robin. As I left to walk towards Lagoon 4 a Chaffinch arrived and then a male Bullfinch once I was on the footpath to the west of the Lagoon 2 hides.

Sleeping Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Once ensconced in the Sandpiper Hide I could see a number of Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns along with a pair of sleeping Shelduck and a couple of lapwing (I did not take a scope with me today).  Nearer to the hide a single Redshank and a couple of Coot with Mute Swans on the far side of the water.  A family of Greylag Geese were resting on the grassy island to my centre right but then the whole family decided it was time to take centre stage and suddenly  adults and ten youngsters arrived.  Before moving on I also found two pairs of Gadwall towards the back along with a handful of Mallard and, nearer the hide, the first Great Crested Grebe of the morning.

Mr & Mrs Greylag Goose Anser anser along with 11 youngsters
By winter standards very little to be seen from the Buzzard Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 in terms of numbers but as well as a pair of moulted Shoveler I did find a pair of Avocet.  Also present were more Black-headed Gull, Coot and Mallard plus a number of Tufted Duck and a handful of Canada Geese.

To the right and not looking into the sun on visiting the Crake Hide I picked up both Barn Swallow an Sand Martin as well as better views of the Tufted Duck.

Male Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

The same was true on visiting the Smew Hide overlooking the top end of Lagoon2.  Very close views of a trio of Tufted Duck plus Heron and Little Grebe.  On the island to my right a couple of resting (breeding?) Common Tern with the larger Black-headed Gulls.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo (front right) with Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Just a quick stop at the Redshank Hide where I saw both Moorhen and House Martin as I made my way back to the Visitors Centre.  A second check on the feeding station produced more of the same but also a lovely cock Pheasant, adult Robin and female Blackcap.  And both feeders were still occupied by Grey Squirrels.

So off back home at 9.30, taking in the pair of nesting Osprey with their young chick on the traditional nest in Manton Bay, with a short stop at the Lyndon Centre where I found a small charm of Goldfinch, a juvenile Pied Wagtail with an adult and a couple of Greenfinch. On the far side of the water, apart from the Mute swans I could pick out a number of Cormorant and at least two Little Egrets.  And as I sat in the car putting everything away and fastening my seat belt a lone Dunnock came out to explore the undergrowth immediately in front of me.  Rather a lovely way to end my short visit and with a final tally of 44 species.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch.

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

Thursday 23 May 2019

Donana National Park

Tuesday 21 May

The unique town of El Rocio in the centre of the Donana National Park
A very early light breakfast and up at the Palace de Acebron at the far end of the entrance to the La Rocina Visitors Centre for a walk round the woodland trail.  Beautiful and not a single sole in sight so a joy to appreciate the deafening early morning bird song including both Hoopoe and Cuckoo as I wandered along at pace somewhat slower than the proverbial snail.

Great Tit early on and I could hear the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and eventually saw the bird as I neared the end of the walk. The lower levels contained noisy Cetti's Warblers and Nightingales but also many Chaffinches and Blackbirds.  The lake area reed produced Reed Warbler and a rather lovely Woodchat Shrike was looking for his breakfast from a rusty fence viewpoint.  Also noted were Wood Pigeon, Crested Lark, Serin and Goldfinch.

Returning down the long drive I stopped at the car park to pay a short visit to the La Rocina reserve site itself.  My first bird was silhouetted in the top of a pine tree but then flew down to a fixed nestbox so able to get a better view and identify the Tree Sparrow.  Reaching the hide overlooking the nearest water I was able to see both Black Kite and White Stork in the air whilst on the banks I had a number of Grey Heron and a couple of Spoonbill.  The Mallards and Pochards were rather more difficult to locate but in so doing I also managed to find the first of two Purple Heron.  As yesterday, a good handful of Purple Swamphen.  Then a Marsh Harrier quartering the rear of the site.

Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia at La Rocina
A Little Grebe put in an appearance and a couple do Azure-winged Magpies were seen below the hide.  Then, at the far side of the reedy area in a small revealed water another Spoonbill accompanied by four Glossy Ibis.  Leaving the site not just Barn Swallows and House martins but a pair of Red-rumped Swallows.

Back to the hostal to collect the rest of my belongings and a final goodbye to El Rocio by checking out the main water from the SEO Visitors Centre.  All relatively quiet but I did add, obviously the resident Flamingo along with more Glossy Ibis and a a number of Greylag Geese.  A few Black-winged Stilts and a Little Ringed Plover plus a few Cattle Egrets made up the numbers along with the single Cormorant that flew across the lake.

Distant Greylag Geese Anser anser with goslings
So, on my way home by 11,30 and as I passed the water at the Dehesa de Abajo with its large Coot and Flamingo colonies, I also noted both Common and Red-crested Pochard along with Little and Great Crested Grebe.  Certainly no shortage of White Storks, they seemed to be everywhere.  A Kestrel was hovering above and both Jackdaw and Bee-eater were found in exactly the same site as on Sunday morning as were the Spoonbill pair and, of course, a number of Corn Buntings on the wires as I made my way through the Park.

Goodbye to the Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier,  Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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

Monday 20 May 2019

Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel)

Monday 20 May

Away before 8,30 after taking a local breakfast and at the Odiel Vistors Centre by 9.45.  However, I did make a thirty minutes at the Laguna Primera de Palos (entrance track start at KM13 on the Matalascanas to Huelva coast road) which. judging by the growth over the track, has probably not been visited for very many months.  Arriving at the brisk observation hide a Red-rumped Swallow dashed out and I discovered that it had made its fabulous nest on the ceiling. Looking out through the window a Kingfisher flashed past to the other side of the water and I also recorded Purple Swamphen, Heron, Cetti's Warbler, Moorhen and Coot.  A Great Tit was calling from the vegetation behind me and a Blackbird flew across the water,  I, perhaps, should point out that as soon as I entered and immediately saw the Kingfisher I left the hide and did my birding the other side of the trees some thirty or more metres away.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

However, these were not my first birds of the day.  El Rocio seems to be full of House Martins and I even had a Black Kite resting on top of a pylon not fifty meres away from my fabulous hostal.  More Black Kites on the journey down to Matalascanas along with White Stork, Woodchat Shrike and Corn Bunting.  A Magpie on the roundabout at the bottom and then an Azure-wined Magpie over the A494 before reaching the nearby first roundabout.

Lots of White Storks on nests as I made my way through Huelva and then arriving at the Odiel all seemed very quiet.  The salinas were full of water starting the process of evaporation to collect the salt and, as usual, there was a huge stockpile of salt plus scores of completed bags probably containing a cubic metre each. The small pool has limited water but still held a Spoonbill, a few Mallards and Pochard and I even found some moulting Red-crested Pochard. Just the odd Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe but many House Martins taking advantage of the mud supply so that they could get on with their building programme.  Common Swifts and Yellow-legged Gulls above and a Reed Warbler below the hide.  A pair of Blackbirds in the nearby gardens and strange to suddenly come across a Wood Pigeon.  Walking back to the car I found a pair of Yellow Wagtails in the bushes between road and salinas and whereas the one was a blue-headed member of the Iberian sub-species, the second was grey-headed sub-species.

What a disappointment at the Visitors Centre.  Looking at the the tributary below just one Little Egret and two Ringed Plovers.  A walk across the disused car park to look at the Odiel produced a small mixed flock of Dunlin and Sanderling. Taking a walk down to the circular hide past all the feeding Flamingo I was able to look out across the mud flats for some sign of bird life.  One Spoonbill and a solitary Shelduck flew over the hide to join the Flamingos. Quite a number of Grey Plover, some showing very black and others looking like females.  Then the fishing display by a half-dozen Little Tern; very spectacular.

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

And so the drive down the spit with now "No stopping" signs, presumably aimed at the fishermen rather than birders who, at least move on once birds have been seen and identified.  Lots and lots of Little Terns and I was sure that I saw a Black Tern over the Odiel.  Small flocks of waders on the exposed sand bars including Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank and then a quartet of Whimbrel as I came to the end of the narrow drive.    All very quiet on the sea side of the road with just the occasional Crested Lark.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

At the far end I saw more Little Terns both fishing and resting on the sand below me.  Then I saw my Black Tern again but much as I searched the water it remained out of sight.  Then looking at the nearby Little Terns there it was.  With my scope out to see if there might also be a Sandwich Tern I discovered the two Common Terns but none of the former.

Black Tern Chlidonias niger (back right) with Common Tern Sterna hirundo (right) and Little Tern Sterna albifrons (left)
Happy me as I started to set off back up the spit and towards Huelva when I stopped almost immediately to check out the large "Whimbrel" in the group of same.  Yes, a Curlew.  Again, just another ten metres or so along an another group of waders with a single larger member.  Turned out to be about a score of Dunlin with a visiting Bar-tailed Godwit.  And the last bird before leaving the marismas was a Sardinian Warbler that flew across the road in front of me,

Curlew  Numenius arquata (right) with Little Tern (left)
2.30 saw me back in Matalascanas so I dropped in to the Acebuche Reserve for a couple of very productive hours.  White Stork on its regular nest above the Visitor Centre and loads of Azure-winged Magpies feeding on the scraps left in the picnic area next to the car park.  An occasional Magpie and even a Collared Dove put in an appearance.

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus

The hides to the right (sounds like the House of Commons Speaker with a lisp!) produced good numbers of Purple Swamphen plus Common Pochard, Mallard, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Coot.  The adult Stonechats were busy feeding and supervising their newly-fledged young and both Barn Swallow and Common Swift were seen overhead.

Male Stonechat Saxicola torquata with juvenile below
Lovely to see some more Spoonbill and then back to check out a couple of the hides to the left. A Goldfinch in the trees to my right and then the head of deer walking behind the reeds,  Rushed to get the camera fired up but the animal came out into the open to dink at the water's edge.  A rather large and magnificent Red Deer doe.

Red Deer doe Cervus elaphus hispanicus
Whilst here I also watched the Hoopoe fly over and a Reed Warbler came o rest on a branch below me.  Through the left window I watched a couple of Greenfinches land in the tree and finally decided it was time to start the walk back to the Visitors Centre.  No sooner had I started than I had both Corn Bunting and Chaffinch on the bare tree in front of me followed by that well-know song of a Bee-eater.  There it was, at the top of the same bare tree and its friends calling from all around.

Making the long trek back I also watched both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and nearing the Centre some of the nesting House Martins.  Even a couple of Black Kites resting atop adjacent pylons as I drove out if the reserve to mark the end of a fabulous day,

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Greebe, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Black Tern, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey-headed Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Staling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

Glosy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

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

Sunday 19 May 2019

Donana National Park

 Sunday 19 May 2019

Up and away from the hotel early and arrived at the Dehesa de Abajo before 9 o’clock having driven through the trees down the country lane from my overnight stop in Aznalcazar and the first bird seen was a Bee-eater followed by Azure-winged Magpie and Blackbird.  Before reaching the roundabout to turn left to my destination I had also added both Serin and Sardinian Warbler. Then immediately the first of scores of White Storks with many on nests feeding youngsters.  This is also the special place where these birds nest in trees as well as making use of pylons, old buildings, chimneys and anything else that comes to hand.  A single Raven was seen and then a stop at the first water point where I had both Spoonbill and Little Egret.  Also a the water was a pair of Back-winged Stilts and at the next pond I not only added Little Ringed Plover but the constant accompaniment of a very vocal Cuckoo.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Cattle Egrets were feeding next to a small herd of horses and a constant flurry of Barn Swallows.  By the time I reached the Dehesa de Abajo itself I was also in the company of a good number of Black Kites and Glossy Ibis.   

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Lots of Common Swifts overhead as well as the Barn Swallows and I was aware of the local Jackdaws.  In the reeds calling Reed Warblers and Nightingales along with the powerful voice of a few Great Reed Warblers not to mention the ever-present Cetti’s Warblers.
On the water itself a good number of Coot and Flamingo at the back and a good mix of both Common and Red-crested Pochards along with a few Mallard.  Numerous Great Crested Grebe, fewer Little Grebe and the very occasional Black-necked Grebe.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Single sightings of both Great Tit and Purple Swamphen and in a large mixed heron roost of both Grey and Night Heron I also found a large number of Little Egret and a couple of Great White Egret.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Leaving the lake and crossing over a small stream I looked down to find more Night Herons and single Purple Heron whilst Goldfinches were foraging in the neighbouring trees. 

Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Picked up both a Greenfinch and a large flock of Spanish Sparrows as I tuned off the main road to take the very long track down to the Valverde Centre in the heat of the Donana.  Bee-eaters everywhere along with Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola.  Just the one Moorhen on one of the large open water deposits half-way down the track.  And where I crossed the river at the dog-leg, a pair of Red-rumped Swallows feeding with their Barn Swallow cousins.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Now we were really into heron country with numerous Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, at least a dozen Great White Egret and a good number of Grey Heron and a couple of Purple Heron.  Also time to find a half-dozen Squacco Heron.  As for Purple Swamphen, I gave up counting when I passed the fifty mark; never seen so many in such a small area.  No sooner had a lone Cormorant passed me travelling in the opposite direction than I started seeing Magpies and by the time I left this site I must have counted at least twenty.  But just the one Wood Pigeon.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Very little to be seen at the Centre itself other than a small flock of Flamingo and more Glossy Ibis so I continued on my anti-clockwise circuit.  Up ahead a cold see a resting Griffon Vulture the more in the air along with maybe a score or more Black Kite.  Somewhere nearby must have been a dead animal that the birds were feasting on.  Having seen many Lesser Kestrel now a couple of Common Kestrels by way of a change followed by a Short-toed Eagle and Marsh Harrier as I moved into new territory.  Nearing the end of my circuit both Iberian Grey and Woodchat Shrikes were recorded and so to El Rocio to book into my hostal for a couple of nights.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Once my room was sorted and then a change of room as the original seemed unable to connect to the Internet, I took the short drive through the town to the SEO Visitors Centre (closed) to see what was on the main lake.  From the side and using my scope I soon added Flamingo and Spoonbill and, of course, the town was full of House Martins.  A couple of Black Kite quartering the water edges and more Barn Swallows.   On the far side both Little Egret and Heron and then a drive to the road end of town where I picked up a small flock of Greylag Geese, many with recently-fledged young.  However, I did also manage to add a Blue-headed Wagtail found feeding on the grass.

Still time for a little more exploration so I made a short visit to the Las Rocinas Reserve which was very full of water on this occasion.  Great Tit and Serin as I made my way to the hide from where I saw both Spoonbill and White Stork.  Look further afield I was also able to add more Little Egrets. And, again, the constant calling of a very close Cuckoo.

At the back of the pool was a resting group of duck including Mallard and Common Pochard.  Both Reed Warbler and Nightingale were singing as a Marsh Harrier passed overhead and, out of the blue, I suddenly found myself looking at an Azure-winged Magpie at the top of a tree.  A final day’s tally well I excess of 60 species.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Kite,Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
 Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information