Friday 30 October 2020


 Thursday 29 October

Distant record shot of the Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda 

A wonderful day's birding based on the "Osuna triangle" with my Swedish friend, Hans Berjesson. Just as well we went today as entry into Seville province is now forbidden.  To add to the birding misery, we now know that both Lagua Dunce in Campillos and Fuente de Piedra are also out of bounds. As if that were not enough, with entry to Granada province also curtailed from midnight that means no further trips to the Charca de Suarez, Motril for the next few weeks or so depending upon long the restrictions remain in place.  Just as well then I shall be back in the UK for three weeks -unless that, too, is cancelled at the last minute!

Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and Kestrel as we arrived in Osuna at the start of our circuit at 9.30 along with both Collared and Rock Doves. Strange to relate, on this occasion no Stone Curlews awaiting us as we approached the olive groves.  However, we did find our first Black Redstart and then, perhaps even "Bird of the Day" at such a beginning, a number of Song Thrushes along with the occasional Blackbird feeding in the open rows of olives.  Parking the car at the first gap on the road we spent some time walking back to check the trees more carefully and soon Goldfinch, Serin, Chaffinch, Robin and a White Wagtail were recorded.  Hans heard a Meadow Pipit as it flew over and on the opposite side of the road Chiffchaff, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler.  Next followed Crested Lark and Sky Larks were singing above us.

So off along the country lane parallel to the railway line.  We stopped to admire a couple of Zitting Cisticola before taking longer to study the tree alongside the railway holding a score or more Spanish Sparrows.  In the distance a passing marsh harrier before the nearer fist of many Red Kites seen during the visit.  Once having added Wood Pigeon and overflying Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with a Hoopoe we continued on to the first of the high bridges over the now abandoned high speed rail track.

Spanish Sparrows Gottion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis

Once on top of the bridge despite much scoping of the fields below we were unable to find any of the local Great Bustards.  White Wagtails and Blackcaps were drinking from a puddle on the entrance track below along with a "ticking" Robin and even a Booted Eagle made a close appearance.  Moving on to the second bridge we recorded more Stonechats along with an Iberian Grey Shrike and the first of many BuzzardsLinnets and Goldfinches were also seen.  From the bridge I was able to pick out a large flock of Calandra Larks and a number of Ravens were also recorded.

But still no Great Bustards so we continued over the bridge and through the trees to the fields beyond.  Stopping at the "T" junction at the end of the track we duly scope the fields in front.  A Northern Wheatear was resting on a large stone and then Hans was first to find our target bird for the day, the Great Bustard.  On this occasion we managed to count 18 resting birds along with a Buzzard resting on a large stone just beyond the flock.

Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda (Note Buzzard Buteo buteo at back)

With many a smile on our faces we continued to the end of the road, took a left to stop a little further along the road so that we could check out the "hidden laguna" in the trees to our left.  Here we found about fifty White Storks and half as many Flamingo.  Also present a pair of Avocet plus Black-winged Stilts, Mallard, Shoveler and Coot.  As if on cue a Little Grebe popped up from below the surface. Back the way we came to take the first turning on the left towards La Lantejuela and once over the high bridge we saw another pair of Kestrels along with a couple of Griffon Vultures.  Both Corn Bunting and Hoopoe were seen on the wires before also adding a Common Starling and stopping to check the Ravens in a nearby tree we also found a trio of Red-legged Partridge.

Following a coffee stop as we entered the village we made our way to the enclosed nature reserve and looking over thew all were able to find Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, mallard, ShovelerTeal and a single Shelduck.  A number of both Moorhen and Coot before finding both Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper on the far bank along with a large Fox.    A lonely Cattle Egret was standing in the water and on the rocks in front of us a pair of Snipe.

Time to head off and as we left the village a quick shout to Hans to stop as I had found the looked for Black-shouldered Kite on top of a roadside pole.  And hardly we moved away than we added more Buzzards and Kestrel before eventually seeing a low flying Sparrowhawk.

Around forty minutes later we arrived in Campillos and drove on to the Laguna Ducle which was now showing much less water than on my previous visit . At least an hundred White-headed Ducks on the water with more than twice that number of Coots.  To the right a dozen or so Flamingo and to the left small numbers of Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Very few Mallards but good numbers of Shoveler and even a quartet of Red-crested Pochard before we found a few Gadwall.  On the far bank a large flock of Lapwing which were regularly put up by the adult female and juvenile Marsh Harriers that quartered the far side of the water.   Lots of Little Grebe and then we found a single Black-necked Grebe.  Whilst there a couple of Herons hiding in the reeds on the far side behind the Flamingos behind us we had both singing Great Tit and Cetti's Warbler.

Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus with Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus in tree

And so time to head for hoe taking the Malaga road via Ardales.  A quick stop at the cliff face of  Penarrubia produced a dozen Griffon Vultures plus Short-toed Eagle, Chough and Crag Martins and as we approached Ardales Hans pointed out the large number of vultures circling above the distant feeding station.  A thoroughly good day's birding in great company that produced a final total of 68.

High and distant Griffon Vulture Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus 

Bird seen:

Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Chough, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Our chirpy Spanish Sparrows Gottion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis

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

Monday 26 October 2020

Charca de Suarez, Motril

Snipe Agachasiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

 Sunday 25 October

Meeting up with my Swedish friend Hans Borjesson, who has just arrived in Nerja for a week's break, at the entrance to "Turtle Dove Alley" so that we could enjoy a morning at the Charca de Suarez reserve, Motril, Hans had already recorded Crested Lark, a Northern Starling and dashing Kingfisher which crossed the road immediately in front of him.  Leaving Hans's car safely parked we took my car for a slow return drive to the far end of the road before continuing on, in both cars, the reserve itself.  No sooner had we set off than a Blackbird quickly followed by the a couple of Red Avadavats then the first of very many Common Waxbill.  A couple of Stonechats at the far end and more Waxbills on the return journey.  A Collared Dove was sat watching us on the wires and then we made our departure the the Charca proper.

The very friendly Blackbird Mirlo Comun Turdus merula

Entering the reserve a couple of Collared Doves flew out of the large tree immediately in front of us and with a Robin on the anti-clockwise track we made our way to the Laguna del Taraje.  mainly Mallards and a family of Moorhen plus two Common Coots.  A Heron flew over and we even recorded passing Crag Martins, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler and the first of the Goldfinches. A Water Rail was heard by Hans and then we made our way to the underused hide at the other end of the water recording Linnet and Serin on the way. Once arrived a few more Moorhen plus a couple of Shoveler before the two Red-knobbed Coots paddles into view and a Purple Swamphen flew across the water. A Grey Wagtail came to forage on the shingle in front of the hide.

Purple Swamphen  Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

Making our way to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco we had a lovely view of the circling Booted Eagle which remained in the area for almost five minutes.  A distant Kestrel was recorded and on the water we found the resident White Stork along with a few Mallards and another Purple Swamphen.  More Goldfinches and even a Chaffinch in the tall trees to the side of the main hide.

A very patient Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis
Even a coloured shadow on the water below

Before moving on the the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we walked the full path to the back gate and managed to find more Goldfinches and Linnets along with both Greenfinch and Chaffinch and a solitary House Sparrow.  A couple of Spotless Starling few past and then a few Chiffchaffs feeding in the tall tamarisks.  Another Kestrel and then back to the main circuit through the reserve.

All the big boys: Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, Heron Ardea cinerea and Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Yellow-legged Gulls overhead and another Robin on the fence.  A pair of Meadow Pipits flying past overhead was somewhat unexpected, moreso that the singing Sky Larks earlier on.  Once at the hide lots of Common Coots but so many as my last visit.  Red-knobbed Coots to be seen along with very many Mallard, a few Shoveler and a handful of Gadwall.  Eventually Hans managed to track down the lone female Common Pochard resting amongst  a number of Common Coot.  At least five Herons along with a similar number of Cormorants and three juvenile Flamingo.  The resting Kingfisher was great but the Hans used his scope to enable a digi-scope shot of a lovely male Little Bittern.  In addition to Moorhens we also had Little Grebes, Black-headed Gulls and a family of Rats (Rattus norvegicus) feeding below the hide.

Male Little Bittern Avetotillo comun Ixobrychus minutus (Digiscoped: Hans Borjesson)

Whilst at the northern end of the Laguna del Trebol we had more Red-knobbed Coots, Little Grebe and a Grey Wagtail.  Nothing to add at the southern end other than another Robin and Grey Wagtail and we just too late to see the departing Bluethroat.  However, nearby we had very close views of both a number of Leaf Frogs and a Chameleon.  And just to put the icing on the cake, we looked up to watch four Alpine Swifts flying westwards.

Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea

So to the final hide overlooking the Laguna del Lirio where we found a couple of Moorhen, Mallard and Little Grebe but, on this occasion, no Red-knobbed Coots.  However, we did have a visiting Blackbird feeding below us which as joined the now awake Snipe that had been resting on the far side and a long-resting Kingfisher to our right.  Our last bird of site, and what a surprise, was a Spotted Flycatcher.  Finally, as we made our way back to the motorway, a dozen or more Cattle Egrets on the bank of the Rio Guadalfeo and yet another Kestrel resting on the wires opposite.  A great morning in great company and almost 50 species recorded.

Common Snipe Agachasiza Comun Gallinago gallinago below the hide

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Other wildlife on show at the Charca

Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Digiscoped: Hans Borjesson)

Tree Frog Hyla molleri (Digiscoped: Hans Borjesson)

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator (Digiscoped: Hans Borjesson)

Speckled Wood Butterfly Pararge aegeria (Digiscoped: Hans Borjesson)

Resting Terrapin Mauremys leprosa

Mother Rat Rattus norvegicus with two of her four kittens (pups)

A final look at our resting Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis

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

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Sierra Loja

 Tuesday 20 October

Invited to join Steve and Elena Powell for a trip over to the Sierra Loja in the hope that we might find both the wintering Ring Ouzels and a possible Golden Eagle, given that both were very visible when seen last week by friends Derek and Barbara Etherton and company.  But we wanted to be on site by 9 which meant leaving Algarrobo Costa at 7.30.  (No problem with an alarm call for 6.30 till I realised, come the morning, that my finger had also caught the time setting so woken up at 4.20 and only when eating breakfast discovered the big mistake!)  But all's well that ends well.

A quick stop for coffee and re-fueling at the start to the track and immediately added Collared Dove and House Sparrows as we set off along the track to the summit.  A Jay flashed away to our right and then the first of very many Stonechats during the morning.  A White Wagtail was seen at the white farm buildings and as soon as we reached the trees a small group of Chaffinches along with a Great Tit.  Lovely to see a Mistle Thrush after what seems like ages.

Working our way up and past the tree line we were soon seeing regular Black Redstarts and then a resting Kestrel.  More Sonechats before a number of Jackdaws took off from the cliffs on our left and, having stopped, we located a lone Peregrine Falcon on the summit appearing to be enjoying its morning meal.. Even better when it took off and moved about five metres, still carrying its "take away," to give a better view.  Suddenly in front of us were a number of Barn Swallows along with many more Crag Martins.  No sooner had we located a handful of Greenfinches on the opposite side of the track and we were on our way again and starting to find regular sightings of Red-legged Partridge.

Distant record shot of Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus (PHOTO: Steve Powell)

Well out in the open now and the first Thekla Larks quickly followed by Crested Larks.  Looking above the summit we were able to identify the Golden Eagle slowly drifting away from us.  But still a wonderful sight.  And as the eagle disappeared I picked out the trio of Chough moving along the edge of the escarpment.

Once up and taking the right turn past the Charca del Negra we started to not only see more larks but the first of many Black Wheatear.  Even better, at least three Northern Wheatear in this area.  A stop to check out a large flock of small birds confirmed not just a few House Sparrows but many more Rock Sparrows.  Then we reached the first group of berries and immediately noted the many feeding Blackbirds.  Even a Robin was flitting around in the bottom of the bushes and, again, more Black Redstarts.  It took much searching and a move to the second patch of berry-laden trees to find, in addition to more Blackbirds, the recently-arrived Ring Ouzels.  Usually well out of sight in the dense trees so reliant on their movement for identification, although a trio did break cover to come to rest on the grassy slope to our left.  Difficult to be exact but at least seven Ring Ouzels recorded.

Time to make our way back down the mountain and having insisted on a stop at the main pool at the Charca del Negra we got out to explore the dry hole to discover, as I had expected, that there was indeed a deep pool but hidden from sight up against the retaining wall.  We had already seen a mixed flock of mainly Goldfinches and Serins on the neighbouring fence and now we knew why.   Parking as close as possible, but remaining within the car, we spent considerable time watching these small birds come down to drink and bathe at the water's edge.  Not just Goldfinches and Serins but also very many Rock Sparrows, ChaffinchLinnets, Corn Bunting and at least four Rock Buntings.  

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra with Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs and Linnet Carduela cannabina

Finally, back down to the bottom of the track for some refreshment before driving home and it was whilst at the bottom that we saw our final bird for the morning when a split flock of Spotless Starlings flew over.

Record shot of Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia

Birds seen:

Red-legged Partridge, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, White wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

More shots of the Yellowhammer in mixed company:

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

Monday 19 October 2020

Guadalhorce, Malaga

 Monday 19 October

Arriving at 9.45 with a clear blue sky, sun shining brightly and no wind I was all set for 3 1/2 hours birding taking in the complete site.  Crossing the footbridge I had both a Grey Heron and Little Egret on a log just below the upstream motorway bridge and a couple of Rock Doves resting on the bridge support.  Carrying on towards the Laguna Casillas both Stonechat and Serins before watching a single Jay fly across the track and off the the distant hedgerow.

Once ensconced at Laguna Casillas just a handful of Coot and a couple of Little Grebe before adding a pair of recently arrived Mallard.  A Moorhen paddle across the water  before I picked up a lone Snipe needing at the water's edge to my right.  Still Barn Swallows feeding over the water and these have now been joined by the first of the wintering Crag Martins.  A couple of Blackcap were foraging in the tamarisks below the hide and as I departed a Kestrel flew over.

Common Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Arriving at the Wader Pool having just recorded both Greenfinch and a Pied Flycatcher, I found a total of five Black-winged Stilts and nothing else until a Kingfingsher flashed past and away to my right.  So, onwards towards the beach but first checking out the Rio Viejo (Old River) and finding a single juvenile Flamingo apparently trying to sieve the wet mud!  A few Ringed Plovers working the far bank and a Spotted Flycatcher in the dead tree on the island.  In the distance I could see resting Monk Parakeets, Cormorants and Spotless Starlings in the dead trees towards Laguna Grande plus a pair of Kestrel.  Nothing other than a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the sea so back toward the Wader Pool finding many more Stonechats, a trio of Sardinian Warblers, a Zitting Cisticola and a the first of two Blackbirds seen during the morning.

A small number of House Sparrows was found at the back of Laguna Casillas and approaching the  Laguna Escsondida a couple of Chiffchaff.  The water itself held a score or more Shoveler along with a trio of Little Grebe and a few Coot and Moorhen.  Whilst it was lovely to see another Kingfisher dash across the back of the water and a handful of Blackcap feeding close by to my left, the real treat came when a Kingfisher arrived to rest and study the potential food below right in front of the hide.

Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis

Observing the Laguna Grande from the main hide proved most productive.  The water levels may have been lower than usual but, nevertheless, at least a dozen Black-winged Stilt and a score or more resting Cormorants.  Next to the Cormorants a trio of Flamingo and a lone Spoonbill.  Mainly resting at the back right near the island as well as in many a hidden corners at least thirty Shelduck were noted.

Shelduck Tarro Blanco Tadorna tadorna

In addition to a few Lesser Black-backed there was also a handful of Black-headed Gulls.  Nearer to the hide  plenty of Ringed Plovers and both singles of Kentish Plover and White Wagtail along with a quartet of Dunlin.  In the trees no shortage of Spotless Starlings and a couple of Collared Doves which was how I came to find the roosting Osprey at the back of the water.  More searching of the far shore to my top right found three Jackdaw on the island, a trio of Sanderling and then the single Black-tailed Godwit.  Even a second Snipe feeding on the island in front of the hide.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia (front) with Flamingo Flamneco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus

So, a most enjoyable morning in perfect birding weather which finally produced a total of 43 species.

The very distant resting Osprey Aguila Pescadora Pandion haliaetus

Bird seen:

Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kinfisher, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Jay, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch.

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

Friday 16 October 2020

Charca de Suarez

 Thursday 15 October

Velez de Benaudalla in the late afternoon so able to follow on down to the Charca de Suarez to the west of Motril for ninety minutes on the way home.  But first a short stop at the Rio Guadalfeo flow control as I left the village to see what might be taking advantage of the two main pools.  The outlet pool held a pair of Mallards and a lone Grey Wagtail whereas the control pool held a trio of both Coot and Moorhen along with a single White Wagtail.  Entering "Turtle Dove Alley" I was immediately greeted by a couple of Rock Doves then a small flock of feeding House Sparrows on the seeding Pampas Grass.  A Blackbird flew over and almost immediately I was in amongst a large number of waxbill, mainly Common but also a good number of Black-rumped Waxbills.  A handful of Goldfinch as I continued on down the lane followed by more Common Waxbill, a few Red Avadavat and a score or more Serin.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata with Shoveler Chuchara Comun Anas clypeata to rear

Once the gate to the Charca reserve had been unlocked I headed straight for the Laguna del Taraje where I found sixteen Mallard along with a few Moorhen and a single Little Egret.  A Cormorant was resting on a pile of reeds to my right and then the appearance of a trio of Gadwall.  Moving to the hide at the far end of this water I passed a Pied Flycatcher and once at the hide had a couple of Red-knobbed Coot and a pair of Shoveler.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

On to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco sighting another couple of Blackbird where another Little Egret and more Mallards plus a couple of Gadwall and a handful of Teal.  A few more Shoveler here plus a couple of juvenile Flamingo with the lone White Stork hidden at the back.  

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

The main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas was well occupied with bird life. Scores on Common Coot but only a handful of Red-knobbed Coot.  Many more Mallard along with a pair of Gadwall and maybe a dozen Shoveler plus an adult and two juvenile Flamingo.  Just the one Little Grebe but I also found a single Purple Swamphen away to my right feeding at the water's edge.  On this occasion as many as thirty roosting Black-headed Gulls plus a few Grey Herons and a number of Moorhen.  But only two Cormorant.

Adult and juvenile Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

The Laguna del Trebol had been recently managed to remove much of the floating weed and, in addition to more Red-knobbed Coots at least four Little Grebe.  At the back of the water a Mallard rested at the edge of a pile of dead reeds with a sleeping Snipe atop.  

The awakend Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Continuing on round the reserve to the hide at the opposite end of the water, not only had the reed still to be thinned out but another Little Grebe along with a couple of White WagtailMoorhens and Red-knobbed Coots.  And as I watched a pair of Pintail dropped in to remain until after I had departed.  Meanwhile, a Collared Dove came to rest on a branch right outside the hide.

Male and female Pintail Anade Rabudo Anas acuta in eclipse plumage

My final visit to the Laguna del Lirio not only produced more Red-knobbed Coot but a Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata with Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio in reeds

And so time to wander back home taking, once again, the concrete Turtle Dove Alley direction.  Here, at the top (coast) end a large group of feeding Red Avadavats and as I progressed along the road more Common Waxbills and Serin plus a couple of Greenfinch.  So ended a very pleasant hour or so in lovely birding weather and a final total of 32 species for my relatively short experience.

Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

The minute Tree Frog Hyla meridionalis

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

Monday 12 October 2020

In search of the Eider Duck

 Friday 9 October

In search of the Eider Duck Eider Comun Somateria  mollissima

An Eider Duck I hear you say; what 's an Eider Duck doing down in the most southernmost part of Spain?  The duck, an immature drake, was first seen in June this year and it evidently decided to spend he whole summer with us.  Most unusual.  This is a sea duck that I would expect/hope to find when back in the UK as it visits Norfolk or even the Solent near Southampton for the winter months but never would have expected it here.  But here it is and was to become a Spanish "lifer" for both myself and co-birder friend, Mick Richardson.

Distant record shot of the Eider Duck

Mick had informed me as we drove the two hundred plus kilometres from Algarrobo Costa down to Matalascanas on the Atlantic coast south of El Rocio in the Donana National Park that the duck had been seen about a fortnight ago and even had a "pin" and photograph of its last sighting.  Indeed, it would appear that the duck as been so long with us that many birders no longer reported its sightings.  Well, we were heading for the Marismas del Odiel (Odiel Marshes) on the Friday with a follow-on to the fresh-water pool at El Portil so it seemed only natural that we spend some time trying to locate the Eider.

Come about 5.30pm we had left the pool at El Portil and were on the beach jut west of the town with telescopes and binoculars at the ready.  Even our cameras were on stand-by!  But no sign of the duck no matter how hard we tried to find the  bird.   So a short drive up the coast, park the car and back to the beach to try again.  A similar outcome so Mick took the opportunity to put a message on the dedicated site to see if anyone might respond to a latest sighting.

Yes, within fifteen minutes we had a reply from a lady birder that she had seen the Eider opposite a certain landmark less than a fortnight ago.  With that we set off the find said land mark but no luck so drove on to the next similar landmark.,  Again no joy but we did stop for a refreshing drink and took the opportunity to show the photograph to the waiter in the hope that he might recognise the tiny island on which the Eider had been photographed.  Much discussion resulting in him pointing to a large aerial photograph on the wall behind the only other guest in the establishment and stating that we could drive no further along the coast.  At that point the gentleman below the photograph offered to hire his boat to take us but with time running out, as it was now well after 6 o'clock, we kindly declined the offer.  However, we did walk to the other side of the outcrop to check the roosting gulls and managed to find a trio of Spoonbills, a species which seemed to have evaded us all day.

It looked very much as if we were to be disappointed but, nevertheless, we had had a most enjoyable day's birding.  So making our way back towards El Portil we made one more short stop then carried on (but not before we had added Crested Tit to our day's list).  That's it, for us the hour plus drive back to Matalascanas.  Approaching El Portil I happened to point out to Mick that there was another landmark sign and immediately followed by an almost empty car park. "Let's pull in and have a quick look at the beach," says Mick.  So we did.

This time we just took bins and scope.  Always works, leave the camera behind and find the birds!

Mick finished scanning water and far beach when he called me over to take a look in his scope and there it was, happy as a sandboy, resting on the beach less than a metre from the water.  A couple of gulls were keeping him company within a few metres and we were able to get very good, but distant, sightings of the Eider.

The resting Eider Duck, with his back to us, at the water's edge

At that point we noticed the small boat approaching the shore with a couple of passengers and it looked very much as if a pair of birders had hired a boat to get close shots of the Eider.  As we watched it became obvious that the occupants were not birders, they just happened to be on board and about to be delivered to the island.  Seeing the small boat approach the Eider stood up and moved about five metres away giving excellent views and rested on the water's edge.  Mick took a couple of photographs with his telephone and scope as I returned to car to collect my camera.

What could possibly go wrong?  I met Mick approaching me as I returned to the beach to give me the bad news.  Whilst the Eider was happy to move along a few metres there was no way it was going to remain in situ as a speed boat roared down the water close to the shore.  With that the Eider was up and away over the grass to the Atlantic proper and never to be seen again - by us.  

But we had seen our Eider Dick and you never saw such a happy pair of birders as we departed, now gone 6.30, towards our overnight accommodation in Matalascanas.

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

Donana Day Three

 Saturday 10 October

Time to head off back home and the idea was to check out the beach before we departed.  However, looking out of the window we noted that the day was starting with considerable, if not dense, fog.  Obviously not going to be much to see but we drove via the beach in any case.  Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Sanderling on the beach itself and an early Spotted Flycatcher in the tree to our left.

Spotless Starlings Estornino Negro Sturnus unicolor

First stop the Visitors Centre at Acebuche on the road towards El Rocio and passing both Azure-winged and Common Magpies on the way we were soon in the car park.  Not an Azure-winged Magpie individual to be seen but plenty of (Common) MagpiesGreat Tits a plenty feeding on the fallen pine cones and joined by a couple of Thekla Larks.  Also present were Tree Sparrows and both Chaffinch and a Wood Lark were also noted.  Walking round the immediate area beyond the Visitors Centre we found plenty of both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers along with Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting and Goldfinch.  A stop on the way back to the car also produced both Short-toed Treecreeper and Robin

Pied Flycatcher Papamoscas Cerrojillo Ficedula hypoleuca

It was whilst hre that we found a couple of female Red Deer but, unfortunately unable to get a complete sighting to make a decent photographic record.  Making our way back to the road and onwards to El Rocio there were many sightings of both Collared Dove, and the still present Common Redstarts.

(Most of a grazing female) Red Deer Cervus elaphus hispanicus

The drive towards the Donana National Park entrance to the second track leading to the Cervantes Centre produced Buzzard, Raven, Kestrel and many more Common Redstarts.  However, the stop to listen to the calling Cirl Bunting was most worthwhile.  In addition, both Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola were also added to our sightings.  Once at the entrance track we watched a flock of about thirty Lapwing fly over and on the fences recorded Northern Wheatear and Stonechats.  Next up a pair of Linnet.

White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

We already knew that the Dehesa de Abajo would be dry but we stopped as passing and noted the Herons and White Storks along with many Little Egrets.  A large number of Cattle Egret were following the tractor ploughing a nearby field and even a distant Black Stork. A Marsh Harrier flew across as we stopped at a, presumably, new irrigation pool on the right and counted eight Black-winged Stilts along with a trio of Redshanks and a single Little Egret.  It was whilst Mick was checking out the dragonflies that he noted our target bird, a Black-shouldered Kite, resting atop a pylon and close to the centre and so well hidden.  Just when we thought that we would not see an individual on this occasion.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus

A stop near the big tree to check the small pool produced a close Black Stork alongside both Little and Great White Egret and, a little later, a second Black Stork appeared in the sky above us.  On the water itself a single Green Sandpiper plus calling Cetti's Warblers and the Jackdaws were still to be found on the old ruins.

Black Stork Ciconia negra (left) with Great White Egret Egretta alba and Little Egret Egretta garzetta in front

A quick coffee and then back on the road again with our next stop at the rubbish dump just before La Puebla de Cazzala  on the A92 motorway.  All very quiet being a Saturday but we did note the large number of White Storks enjoying a rest at the top of the hill before both a Buzzard and single Black Kite flew our way.  Taking our leave we immediately came off at the nearby village to head across to the straight road leading alongside the "Osuna Triangle."  Stopping at the same hidden lake that we visited on the outward journey our sightings were much restricted by both heat and the heat haze.  However, we did note the the large number of White Storks and a dozen or so Flamingos plus a few Mallard, Avocet and Black-winged Stilts.  

Continuing along the road we added both Willow Warbler and a single Calandra Lark before watching a Red Kite overhead.  It was at this point that I found a Whinchat on the fence away to our right before more Blackcaps, Red-legged Partridges and Wood Pigeons.  And so back home but not before a call at Fuente de Piedra where we hoped that both Pochards and a White-headed Duck might be recorded.  Nevermind the main salina, the back pool behind the Visitors Centre was also dry save for a damp patch at the far end that held less than a dozen Flamingo.  Indeed, at less than five minutes, it must have been our shortest ever visit to this site!

But what a wonderful three days in great company and a final total of 119 species including that Eider Duck at El Portil, both Caspian and Black Terns but not forgetting either the Red Knot nor the gorgeous Black-shouldered Kite.

Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra

Birds seen: 

Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Black Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Sanderling, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Robin, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

A kettle of White Storks Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia

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