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TRIP REPORTS. APRIL 2006

30th & 31st March and the 1st April. On these three days I was again guiding a group of 13 birders from Denmark. On the Thursday morning (30th March) we visited the Brazo del Este and had some excellent birding. There were dozens of Spoonbills, Little and Cattle Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis and Purple Herons present. Amongst the smaller waders there were Common and Green Sandpipers, Red and Greenshanks, Little Stints, Temminck's Stints, Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed, Little-ringed and Kentish Plovers, Collared Pratincoles, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Black-winged Stilts. Non-water birds included Marsh Harriers, Booted Eagles, Black and Red Kites, Ravens, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows.
In the afternoon we drove the 350 kilometres to Torrejon de Rubio, just to the south of Monfragüe natural park in the Extremadura region.

The next morning (31st March) we set out for a full day visit to the park. As there were so many site visited, I will just give a brief resume of each site.
Castillo de Monfragüe. Dozens of Griffon Vultures, several Red-billed Choughs, Blue Rock Thrushes, Spanish Sparrows and Common Swifts.
Peñafalcon. Hundreds of Griffon Vultures, 10+ Black Vultures, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 4 Black Kites, 2 Peregrines, 2 Bonelli's Eagles, Common Kestrels, Blue Rock Thrushes, Crag Martins and Rock Buntings.
Fuente del Francés and Puente del Cardenal. Black Kites, House Martins, Red-rumped Swallows and Alpine Swifts.
Mirador de la Tajadilla. Griffon, Monk and Egyptian Vultures, Sardinian Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Ravens and Crag Martins.
Mirador de la Bascula. 3 Short-toed Eagles, Bonelli's Eagle, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Egyptian Vulture and 15-20 Hawfinches.
Mirador de Acuaticas. Black Storks, Cormorants, Hoopoes and a Common Cuckoo.
Portilla de Tietar. The pair of Spanish Imprial Eagles that nested just to the right of the rock face last year are back on the same nest and one bird showed very well, both on the nest and in flight.
The Eagle Owls are also nesting on the rock face and have at least two owlets. Very hard to find, but good views were possible once the nest was located.

1st April. Today was dedicated to finding the various steppe species that exist in the region.
Belen plains. Crested, Thekla, Greater Short-toed and Calandra Larks, 7 Great Spotted Cuckoos, Red and Black Kites, Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vultures, dozens of Great Bustards, with many of the males performing the courtship display, about 35 Little Bustards, Northern Wheatears, Corn Bunting, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes. White Storks, Little and Cattle Egrets, Common and Lesser Kestrels, Little Owls, Jackdaws and Spanish Sparrows.
Llanos de Cáceres. Great Bustards, Red-legged Partridges, 20+ Montagu's Harriers, Short-toed Eagles, Black Vultures, 9 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, about 15 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Southern Grey Shrikes and Spanish Sparrows.

3rd April. My tour today was with John and Chris Gaches and Peter and Joyce Dowell, the same two couples that were with me on the 28th of March. Once again I collected them from the Hotel Barcelo at Punta Umbria, but this time our destination was the Doñana region. On the way, we stopped at the Laguna Ballestrera, near Niebla, where we saw Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Yellow Wagtails and White Storks.
At Nieble castle there were many Lesser Kestrels to be seen and we counted at least 18 in the air at one time. On the way from Nieble to Villamanrique we saw Iberian Magpies, Common Kestrels and 2 Montagues Harriers.
A drive through part of the Corredor Verde produced Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Ravens, Black Kites, Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes and Hoopoes.
At the Entremuros there were 5 Squacco Herons, Spoonbills, Buzzards and Marsh Harriers.
Picic lunch was taken at the Dehesa de Abajo, watching Gull-billed Terns, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Little Grebes, Avocets, Jackdaws and a Southern Grey Shrike.
The northern marshes were visited in the afternoon, where many of the previously mentioned birds were seen, but we also added Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers, Purple Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Whiskered Terns, White Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks, Willow Warblers, Common Redstarts, Whinchats, Little Owls and Short-toed Eagle to our list.

4th April. Today's tour included Andrew and Diane Stracey from Hertfordshire, Trevor and Frances Smith from Buckinghamshire, Anthony Pritchard from Warwickshire and Jens Bruneel from Belgium.
Travelling between El Rocío and Villamanrique, we found White Storks, Little Egrets, a Greenshank, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches and a Common Whitethroat.
In the Corredor Verde we saw 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Kestrels, Buzzards, a male Montagu's Harrier, Ravens, Woodchat Shrikes, a Male Redstart, Serins, Bee-eaters, Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows and Zitting Cisticolas.
Along the Río Guadiamar we stopped at the mixed nesting colony of Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.
At the Entremuros there were Spoonbills, Grey Herons, Squacco Herons, Common Sandpipers and Yellow Wagtails.
We stopped at the "heron ponds" to see a pair of Red-knobbed Coots.
On the Cañada de Rianzuela we found Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns, Avocets, Shovelers, 3 male Garganeys, Red-crested and Common Pochards, 2 Marbled Ducks and Little Grebes.
The northern marshes produced Little Owls, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Calandra Larks,4 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Green Sandpipers, Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilts, more Garganeys and both Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes.

5th April. On today's tour were Philip and Enid Doran and Helen Jackson from the UK, Tim and Allison Shepherd from London and Anthony Pritchard from Coventry. Early in the morning we visited the Dehesa de Pilas/Partido de Resina area and saw Spanish Sparrows, Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, White Storks, a Black Stork and 3 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.
We then drove out to the northern marshes and the JAV by way of the Hato Raton route. Here we saw Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-necked, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Little, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Redshanks, Shovelers, Red-crested Pochards, 6 Marbled Ducks, Gadwalls, Black-crowned Night Herons, Griffon Vultures, Red Kites, Kestrels, Calandra Larks, Greater Short-toed Larks and Woodchat Shrikes.
After lunch we visited the Cañada de Rianzuela, the Entremuros and the Corredor Verde, where Greenshanks, Squacco Herons, Spoonbills, Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles were seen.

Today was the first of two days that I am guiding Raymond and Carol Jeffers from Guildford and their three daughters.
In the morning we visited the Corredor Verde, where there were Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, a Common Cuckoo, a Nightingale, Serins, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes, Cattle Egrets, Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes and Grey Herons.
At the "turf farm" there were over 100 Collared Praticoles, White Storks and Little Egrets.
We found Marsh Harriers, Purple Swamp-hens, a Red-knobbed Coot, Spoonbills, Squacco Herons, Red-crested Pochards and a Little owl at the Entremuros and Cañada Rianzuela.
7th April. This was my second day with Raymond and Carol Jeffers and their three daughters. Our tour today was to the sites to the west of the region and the first site on the list was an open plain near Niebla where White Storks, 4 Montagu's Harriers, Buzzards, Ravens, Red-rumped Swallows, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Goldfinches, Great Tits and Common Kestrels were recorded.
At Niebla castle we saw over 40 Lesser Kestrels, Common and Pallid swifts, Jackdaws and Spotless Starlings.
Just outside Niebla we visited the Laguna Balestrera and found Hoopoes, Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Reed Warblers, Bee-eaters and Iberian Magpies.
Laguna El Portil was next on the list, where Common and Red-crested Pochards, Little and Great Crested Grebes and 2 Subalpine Warblers were seen.
Our next stop was at the Marismas del Río Piedras. As we drove along the track towards the river we saw Red-legged Partridges, Little and Cattle Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Black-billed Magpies. Along and on the river there were Cormorants, Sandwich and Caspian Terns, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Peregrine Falcon, a Southern Grey Shrike and 3 Great Spotted Cuckoos.
We then visited the Marismas del Odiel, finding Audouin's Gulls,
Common and Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Whimbrels, Little Terns, Purple Swamp-hens, a male Garganey, Woodchat Shrikes and 7 Montagu's Harriers.
The last site visited was Laguna Primera de Palos. Here there were Glossy Ibis, 7 more Garganeys, Pintails, Shovelers, Teal, Gadwalls and 2 Red-knobbed Coots.

9th April. With me today were Colin and Ruth Tudge from Oxford and Peter Swinden from Madrid. We began near Niebla, where 3 Montagu's Harriers were displaying over an open plain. A Black-shouldered Kite was also seen there. We then drove into the town and spent a pleasant half-hour watching the Lesser Kestrels, Spotless Starlings and Common and Pallid Swifts.
We then visited the Laguna Balestrera, finding Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, White Storks, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallows, Red-legged Partridges, Common and Green Sandpipers and 3 Little-ringed Plovers.
Our next stop was at the Laguna El Portil, but there was very little to be seen except for a few Red-crested and Common Pochards, Gadwalls and Great Crested and Little Grebes, so we moved on to the Marismas del Rio Piedras. Here we saw a Southern Grey Shrike, a Caspian Tern, Sandwich Terns, a Sardinian Warbler, Black-billed Magpies, 2 Great Spotted Cuckoos, Cattle Egrets, Cormorants and 7 more Montagu's Harriers.
After a picnic lunch in a pine forest, we drove to the Marismas del Odiel, where we spent most of the afternoon. At La Calatilla we saw 2 Purple Swamp-hens, Redshanks, Ruddy Turnstones, LBB Gulls, Yellow Wagtails and even more Montagu's Harriers.
On the Islas Enmedio and Saltes there were Spoonbills, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Greenshanks, Marsh Harriers, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Little Terns, Audouin's Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull.
We ended the day at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we found a Red-knobbed Coot, 3 male Garganeys, Shovelers, a Purple Heron, Whiskered Terns, a Booted Eagle, Zitting Cisticolas, Kestrels, a Booted Eagle and Glossy Ibis.

10th April. Today's tour included Colin and Ruth Tudge from Oxford, John and Katy White from Suffolk and John Jones and his wife from North Wales.
Our first stop was at the Corredor Verde and on the way we saw White Storks, Kestrels, Hoopoes and Black Kites. At the CV we saw all six birds from the three breeding pairs of Black-shouldered Kites. This probably means that the chicks have now hatched and I will be keeping an eye out for the first signs of them. Also in the CV we saw Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Greenfinches, Bee-eaters, Serins, Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons.
At the turf farm there were over 100 Collared Pratincoles and a male Montagu's Harrier.
The Dehesa de Pilas produced Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilts and Spanish Sparrows.
As we crossed the Entremuros we had good views of about 15 Spoonbills and 4 Squacco Herons.
There were Common and Red-crested Pochards, Avocets, Whiskered Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Jackdaws, Booted Eagles and Black Kites at the Dehesa de Abajo.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marsh area. Here we found a Great White Egret, Greater Flamingos, Black-crowned Night Herons, Purple Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-necked Grebes, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Glossy Ibis, Yellow Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks, Great Reed Warblers, Willow Warblers, 30+ Griffon Vultures, a Black Vulture, a Red Kite, Marsh Harriers and a Short-toed Eagle.
There were also 3 flocks (totalling about 50 birds) of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

11th April. This was my third day with Colin and Ruth Tudge and today they were joined by Mattias and Sara Dahlgren from Sweden. We began the birding in the Corredor Verde and were treated to some excellent views of 5 Black-shouldered Kites. There were also Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Nightingales, a Cetti's Warbler, Serins, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes and a Little Owl.
Along the Río Guadiamar we discovered a nesting Black Kite and stopped at the mixed breeding colony of Little and Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons. I estimate the number of nests at about 200, in a 100 metres stretch of Tamarisk trees.
We drove around the Isla Mayor, finding Spoonbills, Squacco Herons, White Storks, Grey Herons, Avocets, Gull-billed Terns, Red-crested Pochards, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Red Kites, a Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harriers, Zitting Cisticolas and a Melodious Warbler.
At one of the gravel pits that I collectively refer to as "the heron ponds" there were at least 6 Red-knobbed Coots.
In the northerm marshes we saw Purple Herons, Great Crested Grebes, Glossy Ibis Greater Flamingos, Purple Swamp-hens, Green and Common Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Yellow Wagtails, Great Reed Warblers, Greater Short-toed Larks, Griffon Vultures, Ravens, a male montagu's Harrier and a Great White Egret.

13th April. With me today were Jim and Fiona Husband from Broadbottom, near Manchester, Stefano and Valeria Antonelli from Milan, Italy and Bill Burrows from Wotton-under-Edge near Bristol.
Our first stop was at the Corredor Verde, looking for the Black-shouldered Kites and we were rewarded with good views of two of the birds. We also saw Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Serins, a Little Owl, White Storks, Black Kites, Booted Eagles and a Montagu's Harrier.
At the turf farm we found over 100 Collared Pratincoles, Cattle Egrets and Crested Larks.
We stopped at the Night Heron breeding colony, were over 100 pairs are nesting.
At the Entremuros there were Spoonbills, 4 Squacco Herons and Little Egrets.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela there were Shovelers, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, a pair of Garganeys, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Greater Flamingos and Gull-billed Terns.
Three Red-knobbed Coots and a few Little-ringed Plovers were seen at one of the "heron ponds".
We spent the afternoon in the northern marshes, finding Avocets, 2 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Great Crested Grebes, Purple Swamp-hens, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Griffon Vultures, Short-toed Eagles, Red Kites, Yellow Wagtails and Great Reed Warblers.

14th April. With me today were Dennis Kirkwood from Maryland, USA and four members of his family. I collected the group from Sevilla and headed straight for Villamanrique, where we saw White Storks, Iberian Magpies, Great and Blue Tits, Black Kites, Sardinian Warblers, Pallid Swifts, House Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Kestrels.
In the Corredor Verde there were Black-shouldered Kites, Montagu's Harriers, Booted Eagles, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Nightingales, Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, Serins, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and Woodchat Shrikes.
15th April. My tour today included 9 people from 2 families, led by Simon Walkley from Birmingham. The group were also with me on the 12th, but I did not have time to post a report that day, We visited the Corredor Verde and saw 6 Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Sardinian, Melodious and Reed Warblers, Spanish Sparrows, Serins, Crested Larks and Corn Buntings.
At the Entremuros there were Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills, White Storks and Yellow Wagtails.
There were a good number of birds at the Cañada de Rianzuela and we managed to find Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, 7 Garganeys, Gadwals, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Avocets, Common Sandpipers, Whiskered, Black and Gull-billed Terns and a Squacco Heron.
Four Red-knobbed Coots showed well at one of the "heron ponds", along with a pair of Great Crested Grebes and a Little Owl.
The northern marshes produced 3 Short-toed Eagles, Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, Griffon Vultures, Kestrels, Buzzards, 2 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Ruff, Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Whinchats, Great Reed Warblers, Greater Short-toed Larks and a male Golden Oriole.
Other birds seen on the 12th included Cetti's Warblers, Lesser Short-toed Larks, Stonechats and Nightingales.

17th April. Today's tour was with Pauline and Rob Richmond from Wiltshire, Ken Schwartz from Warsaw, Poland and Mick Farmer from the UK.
We drove straight to the Corredor Verde, where there were White Storks, Grey Herons, Red-crested Pochards, Little Grebes, Cattle Egrets, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Buzzards, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Nightingales, Common Cuckoos, a Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Spanish Sparrows, Red-rumped Swallows, Melodious Warblers, Great Tits, Serins and Little Owls.
We visited several sites in the Isla Mayor and found Great Crested Grebes, Spoonbills, Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, Bee-eaters, 2 Kingfishers and 4 Red-knobbed Coots.
In the northern marshes there were Greater Flamingos, a Black Stork, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Snipe, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Collared Pratincoles, Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Garganeys, Red Kites, Griffon Vultures, Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, Ravens, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Great Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler.

18th April. With me today were Alan and Janet Zinn from New York, Rhonda Schwartz from Poland and Mo Sibbons from Cambridge, who is here on one of my 4-day/3-night Midweek-break holidays.
We began the tour at the White Stork nesting colony in the Palace gardens at Villamanrique, where all of the storks (22 nests) are sitting on eggs. We also saw Spotless Starlings, Corn Buntings, Barn Swallows, Kestrels and Iberian Magpies.
We spent a large part of the morning in the Corredor Verde and found Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Black-shouldered Kites, Ravens, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Sardinian, Reed and Melodious Warblers, Red-rumped Swallows, Common and Pallid Swifts, Serins, Greenfinches, Spanish Sparrows, Bee-eaters, Great Tits, Common Sandpipers and Grey Herons.
At the Entremuros I was able to stop the vehicle within 5 metres of a full breeding-plumaged Squacco Heron, allowing Janet and Mo to get some stunning photos. We also spent a few minutes at the mixed nesting colony alongside the Río Guadiamar, were Little and Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons were seen.
We then visited one of the "heron ponds" and saw 3 of the Red-knobbed Coots that appear to be resident there, with at least one pair nesting. Little Grebes and a Kingfisher were also seen there.
A 40 minute stop atr the Cañada de Rianzuela proved to be very productive. After finding Common and Red-crested Pochards, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Avocets and Gull-billed Terns, I spotted a pair of White-headed Ducks (M & F), just emerging from behind a small island. A little while later, a further male was found by Rhonda. Suddenly, I saw 3 Marbled Ducks (1M & 2F) emerging from behind the same small island and these gave us excellent views for about 10 minutes.
In the afternoon we visited several sites in the northern marshes, with special emphasis on the JAV centre, where large numbers of Little and Cattle Egrets, Purple, Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons and Glossy Ibis have formed a mixed breeding colony of about 500 nests.
At the Lucio del Lobo there were thousands (possibly 5,000) of Greater Flamingos, Ruff, Black-winged Stilts, Wood Sandpipers and a single Common Crane, probably left behind when the main body of wintering cranes left in mid-March.
Elsewhere, we saw Red Kites, Marsh Harriers, Griffon Vultures, a Little Owl, 2 Great White Egrets, a Black Stork, Spoonbills, Collared Pratincoles, Sand Martins and 4 Garganeys (3M & 1F).

19th April. My tour today was with Mick Farmer from Lewisham, who was also with me on Monday, Mo Sibbons, who was on the second day of her inclusive mid-week birding break holiday and Rex and Dilys Cranstone from near Nottingham.
We began the birding along a stretch of the Raya Real where there were Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, a Common Cuckoo, a Golden Oriole, Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Black-winged Stilts, Common Sandpipers and a Black Stork.
Our next stop was at the "turf farm", where we saw White Storks, Cattle Egrets, Collared Pratincoles, Black Kites, Common Buzzards and a flock of about 70 Spanish Sparrows.
We then drove along the Entremuros and found Spoonbills, Squacco Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas and Yellow Wagtails.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela we saw 5 White-headed Ducks (3M & 2F), Red-crested and Common Pochards, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Avocets, Greater Flamingos, Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns and Marbled Ducks.
At the "reedbeds" there were marsh Harriers and I also found my first two Savi's Warblers of the year.
In the regular "heron pond" there were 3 Red-knobbed Coots.
A male Montagus Harrier, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins and a Griffon Vulture were recorded at the Dehesa de Pilas.

20th April. My tour today was with Mick Farmer from Lewisham, Mo Sibbons from Cambridge, Dave Dillon from Dublin and Kate and Alan Wallace. As with yesterday's tour, we began at the Raya Real, where we saw Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Tree Sparrows.
We then visited the Villamanrique White Stork colony and also found Pallid Swifts, Barn swallows and Common Kestrels.
In the northern marshes there were Short-toed Eagles, Red Kites, Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagles, Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, a Black Stork, Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Ruff, Collared Pratincoles, Greenshanks, Ringed Plovers, Wood Sandpipers, Purple Swamp-hens, Gadwalls, Garganeys, White-headed Ducks, Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Yellow Wagtails and Greater Short-toed Larks.
At the Entremuros there were Squacco, Grey and Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets, Black Kites and Buzzards.
Three Red-knobbed Coots were seen at the usual pond and we found Avocets, Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers and a Marbled Duck at the Cañada de Rianzuela.
We ended the tour with a drive through the Corredor Verde, finding Cetti's and Melodious Warblers, Spanish Sparrows, Ravens and Several Black-shouldered Kites.

21st April. Today, Rebecca and I were guiding a group of 16 birders from Leeds, led by Gerry Thrussell. We collected the group from the Hotel Barcelo in Punta Umbria and headed straight for the Laguna El Portil. Here we saw Great Crested and Little Grebes, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Common Sandpipers, Reed Warblers, Hoopoes and Iberian Magpies.
We then visited the Marismas de Río Piedras and although it was high tide, we still managed to find a few waders, ie. Ringed and Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Whimbrels. Two Caspian Terns were hunting along the river and a number of Montagu's Harriers were seen. Sardinian and Melodious Warblers were also recorded, as were Woodchat Shrikes, Red-legged Partridges and a Great Spotted Cuckoo.
At La Ribera we found Redshanks, Greenshanks, Kentish Plovers, Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers, White Storks, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes and a Southern Grey Shrike.

© Caspian Tern. John H Johns



We ended the day at the Marismas del Odiel, where there were Purple Swamp-hens, 2 Red-knobbed Coots, Spoonbills, Bar-tailed godwits, Sanderlings, Greater Flamingos, Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, Yellow and White Wagtails and Crested Larks.

23rd April. My tour today was with a group of 8 birders from Leicester, led by Oscar Orridge. I collected the group from the Casa Doñana and as it was raining, we made our way out towards the José Antonio Valverde centre in the northern marshes, where we could look for birds from inside the centre.
In between the rain showers we were able to get out of the vehicle and we saw White Storks, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebes, Wood Sandpipers, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Greenshanks, a Great White Egret, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers, Crested, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Corn Buntings and a Little Owl.
At the JAV there were Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Herons, Avocets, Lapwings, Green Sandpipers, Purple Swamp-hens, Shovelers, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls and Great Reed Warblers.
A short stop at the Caño de Guadiamar produced a male White-headed Duck, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Collared Pratincoles, Yellow Wagtails, a Savi's Warbler and a Red Kite. Two Marbled Ducks flew overhead and landed deep in a reedbed, which was not a satisfactory view.
The weather was improving and after leaving the marshes we headed for the "heron ponds" and found 3 Red-knobbed Coots, Little-ringed Plovers, a Kingfisher, a Cuckoo, Woodchat Shrikes, Sardinian Warblers, Iberian Magpies and a Hoopoe.
At the Dehesa de Abajo and the Cañada de Rianzuela there were more White-headed Ducks, 2 Garganeys, Black Terns, Short-toed and Booted Eagles and a Southern Grey Shrike.
We ended the day with a drive through the Corredor Verde. One of the Black-shouldered Kites' nests has three almost fledged youngsters and I estimate that they will be leaving the nest within a few days. In this area we also added Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts, Spanish Sparrows and Melodious Warblers.

24th April. This was my second day guiding the group of 8 birders from Leicester. We began at some agricultural land near Niebla that is usually productive for Montagu's Harriers and we were not disappointed, with at least 7 different birds being seen. At the same spot we also recorded Ravens, Kestrels, White Storks, Stonechats, Crested Larks, Hoopoes, Barn Swallows and Zitting Cisticolas.
We moved on to the castle at Niebla and spent over half an hour watching the Lesser Kestrels, Spotless Starlings, Jackdaws and Common and Pallid Swifts.
Our next stop was at the Marismas de la Río Piedras. Here we saw Oystercatchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Sandwich, Little and Gull-billed Terns, Black-winged Stilts Yellow-legged Gulls, Cattle Egrets, Black-billed Magpies, Sardinian Warblers and 3 more Montagu's Harriers.
We then drove to La Ribera, where Dunlins, Whimbrels, Little Egrets, a Caspian Tern, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Bee-eaters, Iberian Magpies, Yellow Wagtails and Serins were seen.
A short stop at the Laguna El Portil produced Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, House Martins and Reed Warblers.
We spent a few hours at the Marismas del Odiel and immediately found at least 5 more Montagu's Harriers flying over some open marsah land. Our next stop at La Calatilla produced Red-knobbed Coots, Purple Swamp-hens, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Common Shelducks, Redshanks and Little Bitterns.
Elsewhere at the marshes we found Marsh Harriers, Audouin's, Black-headed and LBB Gulls, Kentish Plovers, Collared Pratincoles, Red-rumped Swallows and Bar-tailed Godwits.
Our last stop of the day was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we added Shovelers, Pintails, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered Terns and 3 more Red-knobbed Coots to our lists.

26th April. Today was the first day with a group of 8 birders from the local RSPB group from Oxford, organized by Reg Cox and including David Roberts, Ian Kilshaw, John Collens, Ray Edwards, Peter Wilkinson, Anne Clark and Anita Evans, who are on one of my 8-day, 7 night inclusive package birding holidays. During the next week we will be spending time in Doñana and the Extremadura regions.
After collecting the group from the Hostal Pino Doñana, we made for the first site, which was the El Rocío marshes. From the old SEO observatory we had good views of Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Ruff, Greenshanks, Great Crested Grebes, White Storks, Black, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows, Spotless Starlings, Reed Warblers and a very bold Cetti's Warbler, that sat openly in a tree no more than 4 metres from us.
We then moved on to the La Rocina reserve and from the first hide we saw Little Grebes, Woodchat Shrikes, Nightingales, Great Reed Warblers and Purple Swamp-hens. In the forest there were Long-tailed Tits, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches, Serins and 2 Short-toed Treecreepers. At the marshy area of the Charco de la Boca I picked out a Little Bittern, sitting openly in a reedbed. This was followed by a Purple Heron and then a Black-crowned Night Heron.
In other areas we found both Savi's, Sardinian and Melodious Warblers.
We had our picnic lunch at the El Acebuche centre, amongst Black-billed and Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies and Great Tits. We then entered the park and found Red-crested Pochards, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Little-ringed Plovers, an Olivaceous Warbler, an Icterine Warbler and a pair of Crested Tits that were nesting in a hole in a tree. We were able to set up the scopes from about 30 metres and had excellent views of the birds entering and leaving their nest site.
We then visited the Las Guayules area in search of raptors and scrub birds. We quickly connected with 3 Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Common Kestrels and 2 Griffon Vultures. We also found Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Stonechats.
Our last bird of the day was heard calling nearby and took a bit of patience before we were finally rewarded with cracking views of a male Golden Oriole.

27th April. This was the second day with the group of 8 birders from the local Oxford RSPB group who are on a Doñana Bird Tours week-long birding package holiday. After collecting the group from their hostal in Hinojos we drove straight to the Corredor Verde. As we approached the Laguna Mancho Zurillo we immediately spotted a Common Cuckoo, perched no more than 60 metres away, and it remained for over 10 minutes, despite the activity of 9 people moving around looking for other birds. Around the lagoon we saw Common Sandpipers, White Storks, Cattle Egrets, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Crested Larks, Black Kites and Booted Eagles.
In the Corredor Verde we saw numerous Black-shouldered Kites, including two recently fledged youngsters that had only recently left the nest. We also saw Little Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Spanish Sparrows, an Olivaceous Warbler, a Little Owl, Turtle Doves and Red-rumped Swallows.
At the "reedbeds" there were Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, a Savi's Warbler (unsatisfactory views), Gull-billed Terns and Marsh Harriers.
A visit to the "heron ponds" produced 4 Red-knobbed Coots, Little-ringed Plovers and a Kingfisher.
At the Cañada de Rianzuella we found Great Crested and Little Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Avocets, Greater Flamingos, Black-headed Gulls, Whiskered Terns, White and Yellow Wagtails and Jackdaws.
We spent the afternoon in the northern marshes and saw 2 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Squacco Herons, Greenshanks, a male White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebes, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows, Glossy Ibis, a Savi's Warbler (good views this time), Ravens, Spotless Starlings, Common Kestrels and a Short-toed Eagle.

28th April. Today, myself and 8 members of the Oxford RSPB group drove up to Extremadura as a part of their 2-centered packaged birding tour, but before we left this region we stopped at Las Doblas, a site that doesn't feature too often in my tours. We were the only people in the park and we had fantastic views of Nightingales, Cetti's Warblers, Great Reed Warblers, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Bee-eaters, Corn Buntings, Purple Herons, Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Purple Swamp-hens and at least 5 Little Bitterns.
We arrived at Cáceres (Extremadura) at about 4pm and drove onto the plains in search of steppe birds. Almost immediately we were finding some good birds, such as Red and Black Kites, Griffon and Black Vultures, Montagu's Harriers, Kestrels, several Short-toed Eagles, Booted Eagles, 2 Golden Eagles, numerous Rollers, Little Owls, Calandra Larks, Woodchat Shrikes, Northern Wheatears and an Ortolan. It had been a long day so we drove to our hotel in Torrejon el Rubio and had a good meal and an early night.

29th April. Today's part of the tour involved an all-day visit to Monfragüe national park. Our first stop was at the Arroyo de la Vid, where we saw Griffon and Black Vultures, Black Kites, a Merlin, Iberian Magpies, Serins, Blackcaps, Spanish Sparrows and Long-tailed Tits.
We then climbed up to the Castillo de Monfragüe and found Blue Rock Thrushes, Common Swifts, Crag Martins, Red-legged Partridges, Rock Buntings, Linnets, Blue Tits, Chaffinches and 2 Red-billed Choughs.
At the Peña Falcon there were numerous vultures, Ravens and at least 4 Black Storks.
At the Puente de Cardenal we saw Barn Swallows, a Nightingale and numerous Alpine Swifts.
We stopped near Villareal de San Carlos and saw Sardinian, Subalpine and Orpean Warblers. From a lay-by we found a Bonelli's Eagles nest and saw both adults and 2 eaglets in the nest.
At the Tajadilla view point there were Iberian Magpies and 2 Egyptian Vultures.
At the Portillo de Tietar we had excellent views of both of the nesting Spanish Imperial Eagles and also of one of the eaglets. Nearby we found the nest site of a pair of Eagle Owls, but only saw 2 fairly mature owlets.
As we were returning to the hotel we saw 3 Black-eared Wheatears, Greenfinches and a Woodlark.

30th April. This morning, myself and the group of 8 RSPB members from Oxford visited the Belen plains. As we drove from Torrejon el Rubio we saw Black and Red Kites, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, White Storks and Cattle Egrets.
As soon as we entered the plains we found a pair of Stone Curlews, which were spotted by Ian, and lots of Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and Stonechats. Further along the road , Reg found a solitary male Great Bustard, the only one seen during the whole day. Elsewhere we saw Northern Wheatears, Black and Griffon Vultures, Buzzards, Kestrels, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Spotless Starlings, Jackdaws, Ravens and Little Egrets.
We had lunch near Trujillo and made our way to the Cáceres plains, where we watched a group of at least 12 Montagu's Harriers feeding and performing aerobatics in a field. As we were driving, I spotted a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, about 30 metres from the road and pulled over to put the rest of the group onto it. I then realized there were four birds and most of the group were able to get good views.
Also on the plains we saw Little Owls, Black-winged Stilts and an Ortolan.