Friday 10 July 2020


Bee-eater Abejaruco Europea Merops apiaster
Sunday 5 July

The Big Trip.  Leaving the house at 8.20 am to make the long drive back to the UK via the Dieppe - Newhaven ferry next Thursday, I immediately many scores of Pallid Swifts around and over the tops of the nearby apartment blocks along with Rock Dove, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings before taking the motorway towards Nerja and then on via Granada and Jaen to Daimiel in Castilla La Mancha, shades of Don Quixote and his pal Pancho and all that!  Once on the first stage of the journey there were regular sightings of Magpie, Collared Dove and, especially, Wood Pigeons.  The, approaching Jaen, about a dozen Bee-eaters happily sitting on a wire followed a lone Buzzard atop an electricity pylon.  However, pride of place, and surely "Bird of the Day," must have been the Golden Eagle circling just above the car as I approached the high mountains after my coffee stop at Santa Elena, just a few kilometres past La Carolina and still within the Andalucia border. Wow!

It may have been "only" 24 C when I left but reaching Daimiel to check in at the Hotel Daymiel at around 1 o'clock the temperature had reached the mid-thirties and continued to soar in that afternoon reaching 41C - and still 39 when I finished birding at 7pm!  However, perhaps because I’m not English but still probably a mad dog, I did not go out birding in the midday sun.  Rather, I stayed in the cool to watch the GP from Austria and then ventured out again at 6 with a first stop at the Navaseca lakes.  An hour here followed by 45 minutes at The Tablas de Daimiel there followed.

Female White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala
Still plenty of water, albeit with lower levels at Navaseca but also many dry areas such as the pool to the left of the road form where one would normally find the Purple Swamphens. With a few Crested Larks as I approached viewing from the top hide overlooking the main water confirmed that, indeed, there would be bird to be seen.  My eyes were immediately dawn to the large number of Flamingos and then the very many White-headed Ducks.  Immediately in front of me both many Coots and the occasional Little Grebe.  The white at the back drew my attention to the many Little Egrets and that also produced a t least a couple of Heron.  The only other ducks picked out were Mallard whilst above and all around me numerous Common Swift and Barn Swallows were feeding over the water and reeds.  As might be expected, no shortage of calling Reed Warblers and the occasional sighting.

Greylag Goose Ansar Comun Anser anser
Once down at the far end opposite the road hide, no water to my right, I was able to stand at the edge of the lake and confirm plenty of Mallard plus a number of Black-headed Gulls including well-advanced juveniles.  There were also Whiskered Terns flying around and these were now joined by Common Swifts and House Martins.   Apart from the Greylag Geese and lots of Moorhen, the shallower water held a number of waders including Black-winged Stilt, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin and Little Ringed Plover.

Great Crested Grebe Somormujo Lavanco Podiceps cristatus with single chick
Next along the narrow track behind the lower end and a stop at the first hide produced more Greylag Geese and White-headed Duck along with a Great Crested Grebe and single, well-grown “humbug” chick.  In the trees behind me plenty of resting Barn Swallows and also a couple of Red-rumped Swallows.  A handful of White Wagtails were working the edges and then a single Common Sandpiper put in an appearance.  A number of Wood Pigeon were resting on the trees and wires as was a single Bee-eater.  But, possibly, best of all was the pair of Collared Pratincoles resting on the shore line.

Distant Collared Pratincole Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola
Finally, at the end of the track where I found more House Sparrows and Collared Doves I turned into the fields and followed the track alongside the water finding more Crested Larks and Reed Warblers.  A stop at the close water side produced a number of Whiskered Terns and also three Avocet.  To my left a handful of Cattle Egret seemed to have returned early in preparation for the night’s roost and so I followed the farm track to the far end, passing Spotless Starlings near the treatment plane and a lone Woodchat Shrike on a fence on the opposite side.

Whiskered Tern Fumerel Cariblanco Childonias hybrida
Still very warm as I turned right and headed off to the Tablas de Daimiel not knowing what to expect.  A few Wood Pigeon as I neared the site and then dropping down the final slope there was till water to my right and that was holding a score or more Greylag Geese.  Once again the White Stork had nested on its traditional site to my left and there would appear to be just the single chick.  Also nearby House Sparrows and Collared Doves with a couple of Magpie at the Visitors Centre entry point.

More of the Greylag Geese Anser anser

Whilst there was water, levels were very much down and some areas were damp at best.  However, everywhere seemed to be hindered by restrictions with paths either roped off or declaring “No Entry.”  The VC was closed so no idea where the one-way system started so I made a relatively quick anti-clockwise circuit of the main boardwalks.  What also became apparent was that all hides were closed to the public with the barriers at the beginning of the relative boardwalk entry before the hide itself.  But I was very much encouraged when a Hobby flew past at a low altitude, no doubt catching insects on the wing.

Resting Barn Swallows Golondrina Comun Hirundo rustica
I had a small family of Goldfinches early on and regular passing Barn Swallows.  Once in the reed bed I soon had plenty of Reed Warblers to keep me occupied along with a male Sardinian Warbler and entering the small spinney at the end of the first, large reed bed an adult Great Reed Warbler busy feeding its youngster.  A couple of Nightingale, now going into moult, as I turned inland towards the far water and looking out at the almost empty lagoon I did manage to record Little Egret, Flamingo and Heron.

Nightingale Ruisenor Comun Luscinia megarhynchos in moult
Nearer to me I finally managed to find a Savi’s Warbler that was prepared to show itself on top of the reeds and then a smattering of other sightings as I made my way back to the car park including Stonechat, Blackbird and Serin.  By now a few Common Swifts had arrived on site to feed low over the reeds and as I made my departure just after 7 it was still registering39C!!!!  Would it be too hot to sleep knowing I had a length journey in the morning and, potentially, lots of birding in the Navarra region?

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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