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Trip Reports. February 2007.

LATEST REPORT. 28th February. With me today were Dave and Anita Martyn from Guildford and Keith Seville and Sherill Green from the Finca Limoneros in Alora www.fincalimoneros.com. Keith and Sherill are old friends of ours, so Rebecca also came along for a day out. As well as owning and operating the guest apartments at the Finca Limoneros, Keith is also a bird guide in his area of Spain, operating Scenic Bird Tours www.scenicbirdtours.com.
Keith and sherill are staying with Bec and I and we all drove down to El Rocío to collect Dave and Anita. We then set off for Niebla, where we were treated to some cracking views of about 20 Lesser Kestrels. White Storks, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, Serins, Barn Swallows and a few Pallid Swifts were also seen..
Our next stop was at the Marismas de Río Piedras and we immediately Spotted 4 Caspian Terns, resting on a mudbank. Nearby, there were Whimbrels, Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Stone Curlews, Sandwich Terns, Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers. An Osprey was seen perched out in the marshes.
We then moved to a small lagoon, where Black-billed Magpies, Zitting Cisticolas, White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, a Sardinian Warbler, Stonechats, Red-legged Partridges, Little Grebes and a Purple Swamp-hen were seen.
After a picnic lunch, we moved to the Laguna El Portil. This was very disappointing for birds, with only Great Crested Grebes, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Buzzards and a fleeting view of a Cetti´s Warbler being seen. However, finding three Chameleons was a great bonus.
Our next stop was at the two small lagoons at La Caletilla, at the Marismas del Odiel. Two Red-knobbed Coots showed very well, from just a few metres and we observed nest-building taking place. In the nearby salinas there were Greater Flamingos and Sanderlings. Nearby, there were two Southern Grey Shrikes.
As we drove along the marshes, we recorded 100´s of Black-tailed Godwits, Kentish Plovers, Audouin´s Gulls, Lesser Black-backs, Marsh Harriers, Chiffchaffs and 2 Slender-billed Gulls.
Our last stop was at Laguna Primera de Palos, where we saw Teal, Red-crested Pochards, more Purple Swamp-hens and 2 Squacco Herons.



27th February. My tour today was with Laura Chapman from Marbella and her parents from Chester. We began at the Correor Verde, finding Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian Warblers, a Cetti´s Warbler, Stonechats, Black Redstarts, Red-legged Partridges, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, White Storks, 200+ Common Cranes, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Cormorants, Ravens, Kestrels, Buzzards and 11 Short-toed Eagles. The big surprise was to find one of the breeding pairs of Black-shouldered Kites with two juveniles that had obviously only just left the nest.
We crossed the Entremuros and visited the Dehesa de Abajo and the Cañada de Rianzuela. Here there were Greater Flamingos, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Cattle Egrets, Lapwings, White Wagtails, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers, 20+ Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and a Black Stork.
As we drove out toward the northern marshes, I noticed a strange shape in a reedbed near the Casa de Bombas. I quickly reversed and we were treated to reasonable views of aGreat Bittern. Nearby, there were 30+ Spoonbills, more Black Storks and many Glossy Ibis.
Once out in the northern marshes, we found Pintails, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Great White Egrets., Little and Black-necked Grebes, Barn Swallows and Calandra Larks


26th February. My tour today included Gilbert Bolton and his friend Tony, from Wigan, Alan and Christine Munro from America and Eric Winders, also from America. I collected the group from El Rocío and drove out through the Boca del Lobo. In this area we found Little and Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Little-ringed Plovers, White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Corn Buntings, Kestrels, Serins and Goldfinches.
We then moved on to the Puente de Ajolí, looking out from near the bridge over the La Dehesilla and Matagordas areas of the national park. Here we saw a Black-shouldered Kite, Buzzards, White Storks, Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, Chaffinches, Black Redstarts, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Spotless Starlings, Great Tits, Jackdaws and a very oliging Great Spotted Cuckoo.
As we drove along the road to Villamanrique there were several groups of Iberian Magpies.
A drive through the Corredor Verde produced a Hoopoe, 6 more Black-shouldered Kites, Marsh Harriers, 120+ Common Cranes, Red-legged Parridges, Stonechats, Zitting Cisticolas and 100´s of Black-crowned Night Herons.
We parked beside the Cañada de Rianzuela and found Greater Flamingos, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Little Grebes, Black Kites, a Red Kite, a Booted Eagle and a Kingfisher. A rather distant Black Stork circled overhead.
In the afternoon, we visited the northern marsh area, finding 11 Great White Egrets, Pintails, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Squacco Herons, Griffon Vultues, a Peregrine Falcon, a male Marsh Harrier and dozens of Calandra Larks.

18th - 24th February. This was a full seven days of day tours with several different groups of birders. The Corredor Verde and the northern marshes were visited on 5 of the days and the Marismas del Odiel and other sites to the west of the region were visited twice.
The Corredor Verde produced good numbers of Black-shouldered Kites each day, along with Marh Harriers, Red and Black Kites, Kestrels, Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, Great Crested Grebes, Southern Grey Shrikes, Serins, Black Redstarts, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Woodlarks, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Sardinian Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas, Sand Martins and Spanish Sparrows.
The Entremuros regularly produced Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, White Storks, Cattle Egrets, Green Sandpipers, Lapwings and Marsh Harriers.
A Ruddy Shelduck was at the Cañada de Rianzuela on the 18th and Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Shovelers, Teal and Grey Herons were present on the other days.
Throughout the week, the northern marsh areas held good numbers of Black Storks, Common Cranes, Great White Egrets, Pintails, Red-crested Pochards, a Red-knobbed Coot, Griffon Vultures, Black-winged Stilts, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Calandra Larks and White Wagtails.
An influx of Yellow Wagtails arrived on the 21st and a Short-eared Owl and a Barn Owl were seen on the 19th and 22nd respectively.

A distant Spanish Imperial Eagle was recorded on the 19th and a number of Stone Curlews, a Peregrine Falcon and a Ferruginous Duck were present on the 22nd.
The two days at the Odiel Marshes began with early morning visits to Niebla castle, where up to 30 Lesser Kestrels were present. Also seen here were Pallid and Common Swifts.
The two main marshes that were visited, the Marismas del Odiel and the Marismas de Río Piedras. Each of these produced Curlews, Whimbrels, Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Common and Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Turnstones, Spoonbills, Grey, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Little Stints, Common Sandpipers, Stone Curlews, Sandwich and Caspian Terns, Ospreys and Red-breasted Mergansers.
Audouin´s Gulls and 2 Red-knobbed Coots were seen at the Odiel on both days.
A Little Tern was at the Río Piedras on the 20th.
On the morning of the 24th, an hour-long visit to El Rocío produced a very obliging Cetti´s Warbler, a male Hen Harrier, a Booted Egle and 4 Great Spotted Cuckoos.


(13th, 14th, 15th and 16th February)13th Feb. Today was the start of 5-day, 4-night “midweek birding break” tour with Mark Dawson and his partner Lorna, from Liverpool and also with Tim Moore from Cambridge. After collecting the group from their respective accommodations in Hinojos and Villamanrique, I drove to the Corredor Verde, where the first birds seen were a flock of Woodlarks, Red-legged Partridges, Stonechats, Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Robins and Black Redstarts.
As we proceeded along the Corredor Verde and alongside the Río Guadiamar, we found 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Red Kites, Common Kestrels, Southern Grey Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Spanish Sparrows, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants and over 300 Black-crowned Night Herons. We also spotted my first Pallid Swift of the year.
As we crossed the Entremuros there were hundreds of Glossy Ibis and White Storks feeding on the flooded plain. Several Marsh Harriers were recorded and flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers passed overhead.
We visited the northern marshes in the afternoon, finding Hen Harriers, Common Cranes, Greater Flamingos, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Cattle Egrets, 5 Great White Egrets, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Pintails, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, a Red-knobbed Coot, Zitting Cisticolas and Chiffchaffs.

14th Feb. Mark and Lorna had a day off to do some walking and sightseeing, but Tim was joined by Kevin and Dot O´Sullivan from Leeds, who have been out with me twice before in previous years. The itinerary today took in some of the sites visited yesterday, but also included a few new ones for Tim.
A visit to the Corredor Verde and the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo and the Laguna de Quema produced Marsh Harriers, Ravens, Buzzards, Kestrels, Red Kites, Black-shouldered Kites, Red-legged Partridges, Southern Grey Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Woodlarks, Black Redstarts, Hoopoes, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Serins, Great Crested Grebes, Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Cormorants, White Storks, Grey Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then drove to the Dehesa de Banco, the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina. Here we found 4 Black Storks, Spanish Sparrows, Calandra Larks and Green Sandpipers.
As we drove out toward the northern marshes we saw Glossy Ibis, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Spotless Starlings, a Kingfisher, Black-winged Stilts and several Great White Egrets.
At the Lucio del Lobo, there were Greater Flamingos, Common Cranes, Pintails, Shovelers, Gadwalls and a Hen Harrier.
Elsewhere, we found Squacco Herons, Red-crested Pochards, Purple Swamp-hens, Little and black-necked Grebes and a Peregrine Falcon.

15th Feb. Mark and Lorna rejoined Tim and I today, after having a day off for Valentine´s Day. Our tour today was to the west of the region and our first stop was at Niebla castle. Luckily, the first of the Lesser Kestrels had returned only a few days earlier and we were treated to some fantastic flying displays by up to 12 of these beautiful birds.
Our next stop was at the Marismas de Río Piedras where 5 Caspian Terns were showing very well on a nearby mudbank. With these were a few Sandwich Terns, Whimbrels, Curlews, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Oystercatchers, Greenshanks and Little Egrets. On the open water we saw Red-breasted Mergansers, Black-necked Grebes and the star bird of the day for me, a Red-throated Diver, a “first” for me in Spain. I have since looked through my record books and can find no records of this species being recorded in this area before.
For Mark, the story was a bit different. I spotted a male Bluethroat land and perch openly on some salicornia, about 80 metres away and quickly called him, as this was to be a “lífer” for him, after years of searching in the UK and elsewhere for one. The bird was the white-spotted variety (ssp cyanecula) and stood face on to us for almost 10 minutes. Two more males were also found later. Also found in the scrub were Serins, Meadow Pipits, Crested Larks, Southern Grey Shrikes and Stonechats. A fairly distant Osprey was seen perched on a post, out in the marshes.
The rest of the day was spent at the Marismas del Odiel, where Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets, Kentish Plovers, Turnstones, Little Stints, Spotted and Common Redshanks, Sanderlings, 2 Red-knobbed Coots and a large number of Audouin´s Gulls were seen.

16th Feb. This was my last day with Mark, Lorna and Tim and after a later-than-usual start, we headed for the wetland site of Las Doblas. As we pulled up in the car park (no other cars present) we were able to identify White Wagtails, a Little-ringed Plover, Meadow Pipits, Crested Larks and Spanish Sparrows, all feeding from the gravel surface. As we began to walk to the lagoon, both Cetti´s Warblers and Common Quail could be heard calling, but remained un-seen. Corn Buntings, Common Chiffchaffs, Stonechats, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and Serins were in abundance, but unfortunately, the causeway across the lagoon has been closed due to vandalism, so we were unable to proceed further to find water birds.
This forced a change of plan, so I drove to the Laguna San Lázaro near Villamanrique. Dozens of Iberian Magpies were present, along with a few Hoopoes, a pair of Crested Tits, several Sardinian Warblers and an Iberian Chiffchaff.
On the water, two Little Grebes kept us entertained for a while as they busily fed their two small chicks, which were at least a week old.
We had our picnic lunch at the El Acebuche visitors centre, sharing our food with about 30 Iberian Magpies and a few of the Black-billed species. There was very little on the lagoon except for Common Pochards, Purple Swamp-hens, Great Crested Grebes and a Red-knobbed Coot.
We then visited El Rocio, but the high wind was driving sand into our faces, making birding impossible so we got bck into the vehicle and drove to the Puente de Ajóli. On the way we recorded Kestrels, Lapwings, Glossy Ibis, Pintails, 9 more Little-ringed Plovers, Black Redstarts and a Water Pipit.
We ended the day at the Dehesa de Pilas, where Green Sandpipers, a Black Stork, Red Kites, Little and Cattle Egrets, Spanish Sparrows, Zitting Cisticolas, a Hoopoe, Calandra Larks and a number of Common Cranes ended off the tour on a good note.
7th February. Seamus Feeney was with me again today and he was joined by Jacques and Martine Ozaneaux from France. Our first stop was at the Laguna San Lázaro where a large flock of Iberian Magpies kept us entertained for over 15 minutes. Tree Sparrows were going in and out of several nest boxes in the pine trees, preparing for the coming breeding season and Chiffchaffs and Greenfinches were everywhere we looked. Great Tits, Crested Larks, Black Redstarts and Little Grebes were also present.
We moved on to the Corredor Verde and had excellent views of numerous Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, Red Kites and 2 Booted Eagles. Both Little and Cattle Egrets, Red-legged Partridges, Zitting Cisticolas, Spanish Sparrows, White and Black Storks and Cormorants were seen and several groups of Common Cranes (+ or - 200 birds) flew overhead, heading north, presumably staring their journey back to Siberia. Large numbers of Black-crowned Night Herons were at the winter roost, but their numbers seem to be getting lower, again. presumably, due to some of the birds starting to move northward.
In the rice fields of the Isla Mayor we saw Glossy Ibis, Lapwings, Greater Flamingos, Common Pochards, Little Grebes, Southern Grey Shrikes, Jackdaws, Ravens, Serins and Goldfinches.
As we drove out to the northern marshes, we stopped to look at a Black Stork through the Telescope and found a Hobby, sat just a few metres from it.
In the marsh area we found 6 Great White Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Great Crested Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Green Sandpipers, Pintails, Shovelers, Red-crested Pochards, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Lesser Short-toed Larks, Spotless Starlings and a Kingfisher.

6th February. Today´s tour was with John and Karen Mur from Portugal, their friends Marvin and Hilary from New Jersey, USA and Seamus Feeney from Sligo, Ireland. We began at the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo but were a bit disappointed with the number of birds on the lagoon, just a few Common Pochards, Mallards, Coots, Little Egrets and Cormorants. In the surrounding area there were Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Chiffchaffs, Black Redstarts, a Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Larks, Stonechats and Corn Buntings.
The Laguna de Quema was little better, with only Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes and Grey Herons. However, the nearby fruit orchards produced Great Tits, Greenfinches, Serins, Blackcaps, Robins, Sardinian Warblers and Ravens.
Things started to look up as we drove through the Corredor Verde and we saw 12 (6 pairs) of Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels and Red Kites. A Sparrowhawk dived in to a large flock of Spanish Sparrows that we were watching, but failed to make a Kill. Three Marsh Harriers rounded off the raptor count in the CV, but other birds included White Storks, Cattle Egrets, 4 Little Bustards, Red-legged Partridges and Zitting Cisticolas. At the usual Black-crowned Night Heron roost near the end of the CV, there were at least 500 birds present.
We crossed the Entremuros and visited the Isla Mayor area, finding hundreds of Greater Flamingos, Lapwings, Green Sandpipers, Spotless Starling, Jackdaws and Iberian Magpies.
We spent the afternoon in the northern marsh area and at the Casa de Bombas we saw Black Storks and 3 Ruddy Shelducks.
The Huerta Tejada produced 2 Great White Egrets and cracking views of a Short-eared Owl.
At the Lucio del Lobo there were Common Shelducks, Pintails, Black-winged Stilts and hundreds of Common Cranes.
Other notable birds seen included Purple Swamp-hens, Great Crested Grebes, Glossy Ibis, 3 male Hen Harriers and a very large flock (100´s) of Calandra Larks.