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TRIP REPORTS. MARCH 2006.

1st March. Today´s included brothers Ken and Graham Mather, who where with me three days ago. They were joined by Ulrich Kraus from Dusseldorf, Germany.
We began the birding at the El Chaparral forest, near Villamanrique, where a flock of Iberian Magpies were noisily feeding. A pair of Hoopoes showed very well from about 35 metres and we also had excellent views of two Short-toed Treecreepers, Stonechats, Tree Sparrows, Chiffchaffs and Great Tits.
We spent a couple of hours in the Corredor Verde and also visited two lagoons, finding Red Kites, 4 Black-shouldered Kites, 3 Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, Ravens, Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes, Common Sandpipers, Cormorants, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, White Storks, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Serins, Linnets, Crested Larks, Robins, Black Redstarts, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Song Thrushes, Corn Buntings, a Cetti´s Warbler and Black-crowned Night Herons.
Our next stops were at the "reedbeds" and the Dehesa de Abajo, where we saw Marsh Harriers, Black Kites, Southern Grey Shrikes, Jackdaws, Green Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Avocets, White Wagtails, Gadwalls, Pintails, 2 Marbled Ducks and Greylag Geese.
In the afternoon we toured some of the best sites in the northern marshes. The first birds of note we found were over 100 Common Cranes and 8 Great White Egrets at the Caño de Guadiamar. These were followed by Purple Swamp-hens, Great Crested Grebes, Cattle Egrets, 100's of Greater Flamingos, over 200 Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Greenshanks, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Kentish Plovers, White and Yellow Wagtails, Little Owls, Calandra Larks and 34 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

4th March. With me today were Cliff and Jean Thornley from New Brunswick, Canada. It was a cold morning with a strong wind blowing, so much of our birding was done from the comfort of the car. As we drove from El Rocío towards Villamanrique we were able to record Black Redstarts, Serins, Southern Grey Shrikes, Stonechats, Spotless Starlings, Ravens and White Storks.
The Corredor Verde produced Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, a Black Stork, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings, Chiffchaffs, White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts, Buzzards, Kestrels, Black Kites and Black-shouldered Kites.

In the northern marshes there were Greater Flamingos, Common Cranes, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Purple Swamp-hens, Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Kentish Plovers, Grey Plovers, Lapwings, Snipe, Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Marsh Harriers, Little Owls and Yellow Wagtails.

6th March. On my tour today were Chris and Wendy Ward from the Chilterns and Peter and Lorraine Finn from Suffolk. The first site we visited was the Laguna Primera de Palos, where Purple Swamp-hens, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Red-crested Pochards, a Red-knobbed Coot, Grey Herons, Cormorants and Black-winged Stilts were seen.
We moved on to La Rabida and saw Black-tailed Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Grey Plovers, Whimbrels and Black-headed Gulls.
We then visited the Laguna El Portil, the Rio Piedras and La Ribera. The main birds seen at these sites included Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Marsh Harriers, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Oystercatchers, Brent Geese, White Storks, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Redshanks, Greenshanks and Dunlins.
The afternoon was spent at the Marismas del Odiel where we added Spoonbills, Curlews, Red Knots, a Caspian Tern, Audouin's Gulls, a Little Gull, Little Egrets and Common Shelduck to our daily total.

7th March. Today's tour was with the same group as yesterday plus Brian and Joan Howson from near Morecambe. As we drove along the Villamanrique road from El Rocio, we saw Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Red-legged Partridges, Ravens, Buzzards and a Southern Grey Shrike.
At the Corredor Verde there were 3 pairs of breeding Black-shouldered Kites, a Booted Eagle, Tufted Ducks, Red-crested Pochards, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts, Serins, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches, Linnets, Crested Larks, Mistle Thrushes, White Storks, Little Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.
The northern marshes produced Common Cranes, 3 Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Avocets, Greater Flamingos, Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, a Whiskered Tern, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Green Sandpipers, Greenshanks, Griffon Vultures, Red Kites and Little Owls.

8th March. My tour today was with George and Lindsey Neely from Leeds. Due to thick early morning mist, we paid a quick visit to the El Rocío marshes and the Arroyo de las Cañadas, but we could hardly see more than 50 metres. We did, however, get reasonable views of 2 Red-knobbed Coots, Crested Larks, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings, Little and Cattle Egrets and a Cetti's Warbler.
Our next stop was at the Raya Real, where 2 Hoopoes, Black Redstarts, 2 Southern Grey Shrikes and many Iberian Magpies were seen.

We then drove to the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde. On the water there were Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, Shovelers, Little Grebes and Cormorants, whilst in the surrounding dehesas and fruit orchards we saw Serins, Linnets, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Corn Buntings, Chiffchaffs, Spanish Sparrows and a Tree Pipit. We also saw 6 Black-shouldered Kites, 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, Kestrels, White Storks and Black-crowned Night Herons. Heard, but not seen, were Common Quail, Cuckoo and Turtle Doves.
In the afternoon we visited the northern marshes and very quickly found good numbers of Common Cranes and 3 Short-toed Eagles near the Casa de Bombas. As we continued along the tracks beside the marshes we found a Great White Egret, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, Spoonbills, Purple Swamp-hens, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Avocets, Greenshanks, Kentish Plovers, Green Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits.
Eslewhere in that area we saw both Yellow and White Wagtails, a Water Pipit, Whiskered Terns, Red Kites, Calandra Larks, Lapwings and Golden Plovers.

Short-toed Eagle. © Dave Hawkins.



11th March. With me today was Heather Shirley from New Jersey, USA.
I collected Heather from her hotel in Sevilla and headed straight to the Corredor Verde, where we found 6 Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Ravens, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Serins, Robins, a Cetti's Warbler, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Shovelers, Tufted Ducks and Black-crowned Night Herons.
A quick visit to a forest near Villamanrique produced one of the main target species, a flock of Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies and 2 Short-toed Treecreepers.
At the Dehesa de Abajo and a few sites in the Isla Mayor we found a Red-knobbed Coot, White Storks, Avocets, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Stone Curlews, a Peregrine Falcon, Crested Larks, Common Kestrels, Stonechats and Little Egrets.
In the afternoon we visited the northern marshes, finding 6 Garganey (4M & 2F), Gadwalls, Teal, Black-necked, Litle and Great Crested Grebes, a Great White Egret, Spoonbills, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, White and Yellow Wagtails, Common Cranes, Greater Flamingos, 2 Purple Herons (the first this spring), a Short-toed Eagle and Black Kites.

13th March. On today's tour were Jack and Marnie Nettleton from Lancashire and their friend Mike and Ann Dennison from Yorkshire. The group had travelled up from Tavira in Portugal and after meeting near Chucena we headed straight for the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde. At the lagoons we saw Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, Cormorants, Grey Herons and Coots. In the areas surrounding the lagoons there were White Storks, Iberian magpies, Hoopoes, Tree Sparrows, Blackcaps, Serins, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Crested and Thekla Larks, Corn Buntings, Song Thrushes, a Green Woodpecker and Black-crowned Night Herons.
As we drove along the Corredor Verde we saw the 3 pairs of nesting Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles (both light and dark morph), Kestrels, Buzzards, Ravens a Great White Egret and Woodchat Shrikes.
At the Dehesa de Abajo and the "heron ponds" we found Little and Cattle Egrets, Common Pochards, Avocets, Green Sandpipers, and a Red-knobbed Coot.
In the northern marshes there were over 100 Common Cranes, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Little Stints, Purple Swamp-hens, Red-crested Pochards, Pintails, Gadwalls, Garganeys, White and Yellow Wagtails, Stonechats, a Dartford Warbler, Lesser Short-toed and Calandra larks, Little Owls, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Black Kites and 3 Short-toed Eagles.

15th March. With me today was Finola Contento from Motril, Granada. Due to a fairly heavy mist, we began the birding at the old SEO observatory at the El Rocío marshes and it wasn´t long before we had excellent close-up views of one of the resident Cetti´s Warblers. This was quickly followed by the sight of 2 Moustached Warblers and several Chiffchaffs.
As the mist began to clear, we found Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Lapwings, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Barn Swallows, House and Sand Martins and a few Whiskered Terns.
Leaving the marsh, we drove right around the outskirts of the town. In various flooded meadows and waterscrapes we saw Cattle Egrets, Meadow Pipits, a Water Pipit, Crested Larks, Spotless Starlings and a Little-ringed Plover.
We returned to the western end of the marshes and added Marsh Harriers, Yellow Wagtails, Goldfinches, a Squacco Heron and Collared Pratincoles to the list.


We then visited La Rocina and El Acebuche, where we saw White Storks, Kestrels, Black Kites, Ravens, Iberian and Black-billed Magpies, a Hoopoe, Tree Sparrows, Serins, Chaffinches, Great Tits, a Woodchat Shrike, 2 Northern Wheatears and a male Black-eared Wheatear.
We ended the day by driving through the Las Guayules area. Here we found Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Green Sandpipers, White Wagtails, Linnets, Stonechats, Red Kites and 2 Mongooses. We also saw 4 more male Black-eared Wheatears and numerous more Woodchat Shrikes.

Collared Pratincole. © Dani Huertas.

16th March. Today was the second day that I was guiding Finola Contento from Motril. Our itinerary today included the Corredor Verde, the Isla Mayor and numerous sites in the northern marshes.
At the Corredor Verde we saw 9 Black-shouldered Kites (there are now 4 breeding pairs in this area), a Booted Eagle, Black Kites, Common Kestrels and Buzzards, Woodchat Shrikes, Hoopoes, a Common Redstart, Iberian Magpies, Serins, Greenfinches, Meadow Pipits, a Tree Pipit, Crested and Woodlarks, Corn Buntings, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian Warblers, Spanish Sparrows, Great Tits, Robins, Sand and House Martins and Barn Swallows. The best action here was prolonged views of a Spanish Imperial Eagle, which circled on a thermal for about 10 minutes.
At 2 nearby lagoons and valong the Río Guadiamar there were Tufted Ducks, Shovelers, Red-crested Pochards, Cormorants, Cattle Egrets and Grey herons.
We visited several sites in the Isla Mayor and found Little Grebes, Common Pochards, Whiskered Terns, White Storks, Spoonbills, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little-ringed Plovers, Green Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets and a Red-knobbed Coot.
There were plenty of birds in the northern marshes and we recorded Pintails, Gadwalls, Garganey, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Purple Swamp-hens, Common Cranes, Black-tailed Godwits, Wood Sandpipers, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, a Great White Egret, many Marsh Harriers, 2 male Hen Harriers, Red Kites, a Short-toed Eagle, Ravens, Yellow and White Wagtails, Spotless Starlings and Little Owls.
The highlight of the day was finding a flock of Griffon Vultures feeding on the carcass of a sheep, and we were able to get the vehicle to within 80 metres of the action.

17th March. Today's tour was with John and Janice Walker from Lincolnshire. The tour covered my usual route through the Corredor Verde in the morning and into the northern marshes during the afternoon.
The highlights of the morning were the breeding Black-shouldered Kites, a large number of Black-crowned Night Herons, a Red-knobbed Coot, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Red Kites, 4 Cuckoos, Hoopoes, a Common Redstart, Iberian Magpies, Sardinian Warblers, Spoonbills and Red-crested Pochards.
In the afternoon we were affected by rain, but we still managed good views of a Short-toed Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Purple Swamp-hens, a Great White Egret, Green Sandpipers and Little Owls.

18th March. On today's tour were Michael Roberts from Evora in Portugal and his friends John, from Tavira in Portugal and Brian from Jimena de la Frontera in Spain.
Our tour began at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde, where we found Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Serins, Corn Buntings, House and Sand Martins, Barn Swallows, Little Egrets and Grey Herons.
As we drove through the Green Corridor we saw Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Buzzards, Ravens, several of the nesting Black-shouldered Kites, Cattle Egrets, Red-legged Partridges and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then visited the Dehesa de Pilas, where Spoonbills, White Storks, Green Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, a Cuckoo, Kestrels and Spanish Sparrows were recorded.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes. Here we saw Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers, 2 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Greater Flamingos, Garganeys, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Pallid Swifts and all three of our Harrier species, ie. Marsh, Hen and the first Montagu's Harrier of the season, a splendid male.

20th March. My tour today was with John and Ann Wilson from Mansfield and John Gough from Norway.
We began at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, where a Cuckoo, Woodchat Shrikes, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Little Owls, White Storks, Tufted Ducks, Shovelers, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins and Serins were seen. As we were watching a few Pallid Swifts wheeling around above us, I became aware of a smaller swift with a short, square tail and a very distinct white rump. Without doubt, a Little Swift, which is a Spanish rarity and, according to my records, only the 3rd recorded in the Doñana region.

Following this super find, we drove through the Corredor Verde, finding 6 Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Common Kestrels, a Lesser Kestrel, Marsh Harriers, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, a Short-toed Eagle, Ravens, Corn Buntings, Sardinian Warblers, Greenfinches, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then visited several sites in the Isla Mayor region, where Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Red-knobbed Coots, Red-crested Pochards, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Cattle and Little Egrets and Grey Herons were seen.
During the afternoon, we toured around the northern marshes, where we had good views of 20+ Garganeys, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Green Sandpipers, Gadwalls, a female Hen Harrier, 2 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Whiskered Terns, Black-necked, Greater Crested and Little Grebes, Red Kites, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Yellow Wagtails, a Subalpine Warbler and an Egyptian Vulture.

21st March. Today I was guiding Eleanor and Steve Pitts, Joe and Kerry Short and Tim and Liz Parkinson, all from the UK. The same route was followed as yesterday's tour and most of the same birds were seen throughout the day.
Six Black-shouldered Kites were seen at the Corredor Verde, along with Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Sand Martins, Pallid Swifts, Red-legged Partridges, Black-crowned Night Herons, Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Ravens and Booted Eagles.
In the Isla Mayor, we found Little and Black-necked Grebes, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Spoonbills and Little Egrets.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes where there were 4 Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Greater Flamingos, Green Sandpipers, Great Crested Grebes, Gadwalls, Garganeys, Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis, Little-ringed Plovers, Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Hen Harriers, Black Kites, White and Yellow Wagtails, Little Owls, Short-eared Owls and a Tawny Owl.

22nd March. Today's tour was with John Hutchinson and his companions Antoine and Jilly from Estepona on the Costa del Sol. As we drove towards the Corredor Verde we saw White Storks, Iberian Magpies, Hoopes, Woodchat Shrikes and Serins.
At the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo there were Red-crested Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Shovelers and Black-necked Grebes, whilst in the surrounding vegetation we found Tree Sparrows, Great Tits and Corn Buntings. Overhead were Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Buzzards, Ravens, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Pallid Swifts and House Martins.
In the Corredor Verde we recorded Black-shouldered Kites, a male Hen Harrier, 2 Cuckoos, Cattle Egrets, Blackcaps, Bee-eaters, Willow Warblers and an Orphean Warbler. Common Quails, Cetti's Warblers and a Nightingale were all heard calling, but were not seen.


A quick stop at the turf farm produced Meadow Pipits and about 30 Collared Pratincoles.
Due to heavy flooding, we were not able to cross the Entremuros to reach the Isla Mayor, so the rest of the day was spent in the northern marshes. Here we saw 4 Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Grey and Purple Herons, Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Gadwalls, Garganeys, Purple Swamp-hens, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Yellow Wagtails, Common Swifts, Chiffchaffs, Kestrels and Marsh Harriers.

26th March. Today I was guiding a group of 13 Danish birders, led by Kjeld Kristen Hansen. I collected the group from the La Aldea Campsite and we drove straight to the old SEO bird observatory overlooking El Rocío marshes. The most obvious birds were Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Shovelers and Coots, but careful scanning of the marsh produced White Storks, Grey Herons, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Black-winged Stilts, Snipe, Collared Pratincoles, Whiskered Terns, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Black Kites and Spotless Starlings. A Cetti's Warbler sang openly just a few metres away from us and a Subalpine Warbler also put in an appearance.
Our next stop was at the Corredor Verde, seeing Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Hoopoes and Common Buzzards on the way. In the Green Corridor we saw Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Crested Larks, a Nightingale, Blackcaps, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches and Bee-eaters.
We then drove through the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina, on the way to the northern marshes. Here we found Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Common Kestrels and a female Montagu's Harrier.
In the marshes there were 3 Great White Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Purple Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Teal, Garganeys, Glossy Ibis, Yellow and White Wagtails, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, Little Owls, Marsh Harriers and 2 Short-toed Eagles.

27th March. This was my second day with the 13 birders from Denmark. We drove first to the town of Niebla and watched a good number of Lesser Kestrels performing aerobatics over the castle. Common and Pallid Swifts, White Storks and Jackdaws were also recorded there.
Our next stop was at the Marismas del Odiel. Here we saw 2 Ospreys, Sandwich Terns, 3 Caspian Terns, Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Audouin's Gulls, Purple Swamp-hens, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Curlews, Whimbrels, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Turnstones, sanderlings, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Cattle and Little Egrets, Red and Greenshanks, Hoopoes, Willow Warblers, Woodchat Shrikes, 3 Stone Curlews, Marsh Harriers and a pair of Montagu's Harriers.
We then moved on to the Laguna El Portil, but this was a bit disappointing and we only managed to add Great Crested, Little and Blacl-necked Grebes, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards and Shovelers to our list.
Our last stop was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, in the hope of seeing the resident Red-knobbed Coots, but for the first time in many visits, I could not find any of them. However, a few Squacco Herons, a male Pintail and about 25 Garganeys where welcome bonuses.
The group are on their own for the next two days, before I meet up with them again on Thursday and guide them up to Extremadura for 3 days.

March 28th. Today's tour was with John and Chris Gaches from High Wycombe and their friends Peter and Joyce Dowell from London. I collected the group from the Hotel Barcelo at Punta Umbria and made straight for the Marismas del Odiel. As we entered the marshes we found Greater Flamingos, Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Pallid Swifts and a Montagu's Harrier.
At La Calatilla there were Purple Swamp-hens, Gadwalls, Greenshanks, Dunlins and Turnstones.
On the Isla de Saltes we saw Oystercatchers, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrels, Curlews, Spoonbills. Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Yellow-legged, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Audouin's Gulls, Sandwich and Little Terns, an Osprey, Marsh Harriers, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Cormorants, Spotted Redshanks and Avocets. As we were heading back off the marshes I spotted a distant gull which seemed to have a pinkish flush. Driving 400 metres closer and checking with the telescope revealed a couple of Slender-billed Gulls.
Our next stop was at the Marismas de Río Piedras. Here there were 7 Caspian Terns, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bee-eaters, Southern Grey Shrikes, Woodchat Shrikes, Yellow Wagtails and White Storks.
At the Río Tinto at San Juan del Puerto we found Common Sandpipers, a Collared Pratincole, Ravens and several Marsh and Montagu's Harriers.
Our last stop was at the Laguna de Palos, where Glossy Ibis, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Teal, Garganey and a Purple Heron were seen.