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Trip Reports. March 2007

28th, 29th, 30th and 31st March. These four days involved travelling with Ken and Wendy Capps, Wade and Karen Harris, Ian Pilcher and Dietmar Grosshans to the Tarifa region, to observe the raptor migration. You can see the reports for the first three days of the tour, ie. the 25th, 26th and 27th of March, below.
We made several stops on the way to Tarifa, including part of the Brazo del Este and the Laguna Tarelo near Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
At the Brazo del Este we saw Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Grey and Purple Herons, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Purple Swamp-hens, Dunlins, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Stonechats, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Marsh and Montagu´s Harriers and Squacco Herons.
At the Laguna Tarelo there were 50+ White-headed Ducks, Garganeys, Red-crested Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Black-crowned Night Herons, Zitting Cisticolas and Sardinian Warblers.

The next day (Thursday 29th) we visited the Mirador del Estrecho and La Cazalla, but strong winds from the south-west meant that there were no raptors crossing from Africa at that point. However, we did get excellent views of Griffon Vultures, Sardinian Warblers, Stonechats and Goldfinches.
Our next stop was at the observation point at Santuario. A dead cow in a field nearby had attracted over 50 Griffon Vultures and more were arriving at a steady rate. I managed to drive the mini-bus across rough ground and got to within 50 metres of the scene. Also at this point we saw Black Kites, Kestrels and 2 Short-toed Eagles.
Moving on to the Playa de Valdevaqueros, we found Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Sanderlings, Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks, Woodchat Shrikes, Blackcaps, Linnets and a Subalpine Warbler.
We had our lunch in a local venta and as the direction of the wind hadn´t changed, I decided that our best bet of seeing migrating birds was at Punta Carnero and Punta Secreta. We stopped first at the lighthouse at P Carnero and immediately we started seeing raptors. First were a few Booted Eagles, then a Short-toed Eagle. This was quickly followed by more of both species, 3 Sparrowhawks and a Pergrine Falcon. Over a 30 minute period there was a steady flow of raptors passing overhead, interspersed with Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallows and other passerines.
We the moved to Punto Secreto, where the flow of birds was even more noticeable. At one point, Ken, Wade, Wendy and I were watching a Booted Eagle struggling against the wind when a Great Skua passed behind it. Needless to say, the eagle was soon forgotten as we followed the skua with our binoculars.
Our last stop of the day was in a forested area near our hotel, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Robin, a Montagu´s Harriers and an African race male Chaffinch (ssp africana) were seen.

On Friday morning (the 30th) we set off for Bolonia, hoping to find White-rumped Swifts, but we were out of luck. However, from the beach we had good views of Gannets and passing Sandwich Terns, along with several gull species. More distant views of an Arctic Skua and a Balearic Shearwater were had. On the beach were Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Redshanks and Turnstones.
We then drove up into the Sierra de la Plata and found Griffon Vultures, Black Redstarts, Crested Larks and Blue Rock Thrushes.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to the tidal marshes at Barbate and on the way, just a few kms from the town, we spotted 6 Bald (Waldrupp) Ibis feeding in a field amongst a herd of cattle. These were just a few of the birds from a recent re-introduction program in the Barbate area. We stopped and enjoyed 10 minutes looking at the birds, which made a very welcome addition to our lists.
At the Barbate marshes we found 7 Caspian Terns, Sandwich Terns, Audouin´s Gulls, Black-winged Stilts, Greenshanks, Dunlins and Marsh Harriers.
We spent the afternoon at La Janda, finding Red-legged Partridges, Pheasants, Booted Eagles, Montagu´s Harriers, Black Kites, Calandra Larks, Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Hoopoes, Serins and Linnets.

Saturday (the 31st) was the last day of the packaged birding tour and Wade, Karen, Ken, Wendy, Ian, Dietmar and I made our way to the Río Palmones for a few hours of birding before making our way back to Sevilla airport and the Doñana region. From the El Rinconcillo side of the river we found Spoonbills, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, 3 Lesser Crested Terns, Sandwich Terns, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Common Redstarts, Pallid Swifts, Bee-eaters, Tree Sparrows and Crested Larks.
On the opposite side of the river, we walked along the promenade of the town of Palmones and saw White Storks, 5 Caspian Terns, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Greenshanks, Booted Eagles, Marsh Harriers and Griffon Vultures.
This week-long tour included good accommodation, good food, good company and good birding throughout and I would like to thank my six travelling companions for making this such an enjoyable tour for me.

27th March. Day three of my tour with the group of 6 birders and we started the day at the Laguna San Lázaro near Villamanrique, where we ound Grey Herons, White Storks, Little Egrets, Green Sandpipers, Little Grebes, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Greenfinches, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Great Tits and Ravens.
We then visited the Corredor Verde, where Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Zitting Cisticolas, Woodchat Shrikes, Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Black-crowned Night Herons were seen.
A visit to the Isla Mayor ricefields and the Dehesa de Abajo produced Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Jackdaws, Southern Grey Shrikes, Black Kites, Booted Eagles and a Little Owl.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes, where we found Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egrets, Squacco Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Garganeys, a White-headed Duck, Little Grebes, a Hen Harrier, Montagu´s Harriers, Griffon Vultures, Calandra Larks, Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins, Avocets, Redshanks, Greenshanks and Common Cranes.

26th March. This was day two of my latest packaged birding tour with Wade, Karen, Ken, Wendy Dietmar and Ian. Our first stop was at Niebla castle, where the resident Lesser Kestrels put on a fine aerobatic display, despite the gloomy, misty conditions. Nesting White Storks and a good number of Spotless Starlings were also seen.
We then moved on to the saltmarshes of the Río Tinto, near San Juan del Puerto, finding Collared Pratincoles, Black-winged Stilts, Common and Green Sandpipers, Little-ringed Plovers, Meadow Pipits, 3 Water Pipits, Stonechats, Yellow Wagtails, a male Montagu´s Harrier and an Osprey.
La Rabida was very disappointing, due to a high tide and strong winds, which made birding uncomfortable. All we managed to add at this site were Gadwalls, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Collared Doves, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Iberian Magpies and Blackbirds.
Before lunch, we stopped at Laguna El Portil, but only found Shovelers, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Just after we had finished our picnic lunch, heavy rain set in, so our visit to the Río Piedras limited us to birding from inside the vehicle or standing under a ticket office canopy. Most unsatisfactory, but we did get views of a running, then flying Stone Curlew, a small group of Red-legged Partridges, Sanderlings, Grey Plovers, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Turnstones, Redshanks and Greenshanks
By the time we reached the Marismas del Odiel, the rain had eased somewhat, but again, much of the birding was done from the vehicle. The birds we managed to see here included Sandwich and Little Terns, Audouin´s Gulls, Cormorants, Greater Flamingos, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Spotted Redshanks, Red Knots, Dunlins, a pair of nesting Red-knobbed Coots, Black-eared Wheatears and Woodchat Shrikes.

25th March. Today was the start of one of my 8-day, 7-night inclusive package birding tours of Doñana and Tarifa. With me on this tour are Wade and Karen Harris from Ontario, Canada, Ken and Wendy Capps from Congleton, Ian Pilcher from Farnham and Dietmar Grosshams from Stuttgart.
I collected the group from the Hotel Toruño in El Rocío and after a brief look at the marshes we headed for the Puente de Ajolí. From the bridge, looking out over the open land of La Dehesilla we saw Black Kites, Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kites, White Storks, Little Egrets, 2 Cetti´s Warblers, Blackcaps, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Spotless Starlings, Hoopoes, Red-rumped Swallows, Great Tits, Serins, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Black-billed Magpies. On the water, close to the bridge there were Gadwalls, Grey Herons, Squacco Herons and Little Egrets. The call of a Great Spotted Cuckoo alerted me to the presence of at least one bird, but after waiting and watching, we managed to get good views of two pairs.
Our next stop was to be the Palacio de Acebron, but a stop at the Algaida de Bernábe produced 2 Crested Tits, Stonechats and 3 Dartford Warblers. At the Palacio we managed to find Winter Wrens, Blue Tits and 3 Short-toed Treecreepers.
We drove to El Acebuche and had our picnic lunch, accompanied by a few Iberian Magpies . From two bird hides at the lagoon we saw Marsh Harriers, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Purple Herons and a pair of Red-knobbed Coots with two very young chicks.
We then visited the Los Guayules area and found Common Buzzards, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, 4 male Black-eared Wheatears and 4 more Dartford Warblers.
We ended the day looking over El Rocío marshes from near the Puente de Canaliega. Here we saw Teal, Shovelers, Wigeon, 2 male Garganeys, Great Crested Grebes, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Squacco Herons, Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails.

22nd March. Todays tour included brothers Reuben and Oscar Gates from Oxford and Newcastle, John Upchurch from Macclesfield and Bruce and Rita Anscombe from Luton. We began the birding at the Puente de Ajolí, near El Rocío, where we saw Black Kites, Kestrels, a Black-shouldered Kite, White Storks, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Serins, Black-billed Magpies and 4 Great Spotted Cuckoos.
We moved on to the Corredor Verde, finding more Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Common Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, a male Hen Harrier, Zitting Cisticolas, Greenfinches, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Ravens and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then drove to the Dehesa de Pilas, where a Kingfisher, Calandra Larks, Cattle Egrets, Linnets and 14 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse were seen.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela, there were Greater Flamingos, Shovelers, Common Pochards, Gadwalls, 3 male White-headed Ducks, Black-necked and Little Grebes and Avocets.
In the afternoon we drove out to the northern marshes, finding Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested Grebes, Common and Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Red-crested Pochards, Pintails, Garganeys, 100+Griffon Vultures, Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Common Cranes, White and Yellow Wagtails, Chiffchaffs, Woodchat Shrikes, Sedge Warblers, a Barn Owl, a Common Cuckoo and a male Montagu´s Harrier.

21st March. Once again I was guiding David, Inga and Nicholas Smith from Oxford and today they were joined by Sean Cronin from Cork in Ireland. Our first stop was at the Dehesa de Pilas and again, a great Spotted Cuckoo sat obligingly on a fence whilst I edged the vehicle to within just a few metres of it. White Storks, Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Meadow Pipits, Spanish Sparrows, Kestrels, Booted Eagles and Black Kites were also present.
We then drove through the Partido de Resina, where Calandra Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Goldfinches, Green Sandpipers and a Male Hen Harrier were seen.
As we drove alongside the Caño de Guadiamar there were Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Pintails, Shovelers, Common and Red Crested Pochards, Glossy Ibis, Purple Herons, Yellow Wagtails and Linnets.
A stop at an old pump-house produced the expected pair of Barn Owls and numbers of Spotless Starlings.
The Cañada de Rosalíman provided us with at least 16 male Garganeys, 30+ Greenshanks, Redshanks, a Great White Egret, Common Cranes, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts, Black-necked Grebes, White Wagtails, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Greater Short-toed Larks, Hoopoes, Sedge Warblers, Marsh Harriers, another male Hen Harrier and a male Montagu´s Harrier.
We then drove to the Isla Mayor, where we had a picnic lunch before driving off to see the nesting Spanish Imperial Eagles to the east of the National Park.

After leaving the eagle site, we visited the Entremuros, where we found 6 Black Storks, Booted Eagles, Spoonbills, Black-crowned ight Herons and Pallid Swifts.
We ended the day at the Corredor Verde, watching the antics of a family of Black-shouldered Kites . There were also Red-legged Patridges, Serins, Goldinches, Greenfinches, a Woodchat Shrike and the first Bee-eater of the year.
20th March. With me today were David, Inga and Nicholas Smith from Oxford and Pauline Parsons and her friend Chris from Suffolk. We started at El Rocío and a quick scan of the marshes produced Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Redshanks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Barn Swallows and House Martins.

At the Puente de Ajolí we saw Crested Larks, Great Tits, Black-billed Magpies, a Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black Kites, a Black-shouldered Kite, Kestrels and White Storks.
We stopped at the Laguna San Lázaro, where Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Sardinian Warblers and Ravens were seen
We then drove to the Dehesa de Pilas, where I was able to get the vehicle to within 10 metres of a Great Spotted Cuckoo, allowing cracking views and photographic opportunities for everyone. A few male Spanish Sparrows showed very well and two male Garganeys in an irrigation ditch were approachable to within 15 metres. Also seen were a Red Kite, Cattle Egrets and Corn Buntings.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela there were 40+ Black-necked Grebes, Little Grebes, 3 male White-headed Ducks, Avocets, Green Sandpipers, Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles.
In the afternoon we visited the northern marshes and found 4 Great White Egres, 5 Black Storks, Great Crested Grebes, Purple Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilts, Shovelers, Common Cranes, Yellow Wagtails and a Hen Harrier.

16th March. This was the last of the six days that I have been guiding Mark and Tracy Powell and Ken Powell and his partner Barbara from Cheshire. Today, Ken and Barbara had a day off and Mark and Tracy were joined by Dale and Vicky Pointon from Burnley.
Several species had eluded us during the last five days, so I devised a special itinerary for the day that would give us the chance of seeing some of those species and they have been marked with a * when mentioned
The birding got off to a good start at the Corredor Verde, with 5 Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Buzzards, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, a Short-toed Eagle, Ravens, a Little Owl*, Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows*, Hoopoes, Serins, Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches, Sardinian Warblers, Crested Larks and Corn Buntings.
A drive through the pine forest of Aznalcazar offered the chance of finding Crested Tits* and we were not disappointed. At our second stop I heard a tit calling and then spotted it feeding in a pine tree. A second bird was then located by me and this gave us exceptional views as it left a pine tree and perched in a dead tree no more that 8 metres from us. At the same spot we saw Iberian Magpies, Great and Blue Tits and a flock of 28 Common Cranes, which passed noisily overhead.
We then stopped at one of the “gravel pits” and found 2 Squacco Herons, Little Egrets, a Red-knobbed Coot, White Storks, Blackcaps and Common Redstarts.
Our stop at the Cañada de Rianzuela produced Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Shovelers, Common and Red-crested Pochards, 6 male Garganeys, 2 male White-headed Ducks*, Pintails, Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Zitting Cisticolas and Marsh Harriers.
We then briefly visited the Black-crowned Night Herons breeding colony before driving out to the northern marshes.
By taking the back road from the Casa de Bombas we found 3 Black Storks*, a Common Quail*, Green Sandpipers, more Short-toed Eagles, Lesser Short-toed Larks*, Cormorants and Cattle Egrets.
At a flooded field near the Biological Station we found Ringed, Little-ringed and Kentish Plovers, Ruff, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Little Stints, Dunlins, Lapwings, Grey Herons, a Great White Egret and the first of two male Montagu´s Harriers* to be seen, the first of the year for me.
There were about 400 Glossy Ibis at the JAV centre, along with Purple Herons, Black-winged Stilts and Black-tailed Godwits. Further along the road, at the Caño de Guadiamar, we saw 70+ Purple Swamp-hens, Spoonbills, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Yellow and White Wagtails, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers and 2 Barn Owls.
The day had a perfect ending when we found a pair of Marbled Ducks* in a large irrigation canal in the Hato Raton area.
As I was returning Mark and Tracy to Hinojos, after previously returning Dale and Vicky to El Rocío, we had very good views of a pair of Southern Grey Shrikes.
The daily total of species seen was 83 and the total number seen during the six days was 142 species. This included 15 raptor, 2 owl, 24 wader, 10 duck, 11 herons/egrets/spoonbills and dozens of passerine species.

15th March. Due to the shortness of our visit to the Marismas del Odiel on Tuesday, Mark, Ken, Tracy and Barbara wanted to re-visit the site to try and find more of the birds that inhabit that particular area. We arrived at 10.00hrs, after seeing Iberian Magpies, Kestrels, Crested Larks, White Wagtails and a Short-toed Eagle en-route.
Because of the tide times, I drove directly to the exposed sandbars and roosts where gulls usually loaf around during the day, but, strangely, there were very few gulls present, compared to the 1,000´s that are usually there. However, apart from small numbers of Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backs, we did find a nice flock of about 20 Audouin´s Gulls. At the same roosting place there were also Sandwich Terns, a Caspian Tern, Little Terns and a single Roseate Tern.
Waders were present in good numbers and we saw Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Whimbrels, Kentish, Ringed, Little-ringed and Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Common and Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets and Spoonbills.
Cormorants and a Razorbill were seen offshore and an Osprey passed by overhead. In the dry areas we found Subalpine and Willow Warblers, Woodchat Shrikes, Black-billed Magpies, Marsh Harriers and a Stone
14th March. This was day four of the six days that I am guiding a group of birders from Nantwich, Cheshire. Once again, only the two men, Mark and Ken, were with me and we started our birding at the Laguna de San Lázaro near Villamanrique, where the first bird seen was a Kingfisher, sitting on a fence and giving us cracking views for two minutes. Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons and Little Grebes were seen on the water, whilst in the surrounding forest we found Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Tree Sparrows, Common Redstarts, Blue Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Serins, Robins, Chiffchaffs and Sardinian Warblers.
A short drive took us to the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina, where we saw Spanish Sparrows, Crested and Calandra Larks, Corn Buntings, Barn Swallows, Zitting Cisticolas, White Storks, Kestrels, Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Black Kites.
We then drove along the Entremuros, headed for the Isla Mayor. Suddenly, Mark asked me to stop to check out a buzzard-sized raptor that was in some short reeds just to the side of the track. The bird flew for about 100 metres, displaying a very light head and a rufous tail and landed again. This time we were able to get out of the vehicle and get the bird in the ´scopes. Whilst Ken busied himself digiscoping the bird, Mark and I compared notes with the descriptions from our field guides and although the head and tail reminded me of a Long-legged Buzzard, the other plumage markings were new to me. Eventually we found the answer. It was a juvenile Long-legged Buzzard, a species I had only seen a few of before and each of those being adults. A great bird and hopefully some good photos by Ken.
Before stopping for a picnic lunch, we visited the “reedbeds” and the Cañada de Rianzuela, finding Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Green Sandpipers, Redshanks, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Booted Eagles, 2 Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins, Blackcaps, Jackdaws, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls and Shovelers.
After lunch, we drove out to the La Cantarita area, where we saw 2 Bluethroats, Iberian Chiffchaffs, Little-ringed and Kentish Plovers, an Osprey, a Peregrine, and a Black Stork. I was also able to show Mark and Ken a Spanish Imperial Eagle´s nest, where one of the birds was seen standing over the nest, then flying and then finally perching on a bare branch.

13th March. Today was my third day with the four birders from Nantwich in Cheshire, Mark, Tracy, Ken and Barbara and our itinerary today took us to the west of the Doñana region. The first stop was at the castle at Niebla, where 30+ Lesser Kestrels, White Storks, Pallid Swifts, Barn Swallows, Spotless Starlings and Jackdaws were seen.
We moved from the castle to the Laguna de Balestrera, but only managed to find Common Pochards, Grey Herons, Green Sandpipers, Little-ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Hoopoes and Stonechats.
Next on the list were the salt marshes at San Juan del Puerto and this proved to be a real bonus as we found Meadow Pipits, 6 Water Pipits, White Wagtails, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Marsh Harriers, Ravens, Serins and Northern Wheatears.
We then drove to the Marismas de Río Piedras and found Sandwich Terns, Caspian Terns, Red-breasted Mergansers, Curlews, Whimbrels, Dunlins, Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Turnstones, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Cormorants and two Southern Grey Shrikes.
We ended the day at the Marismas del Odiel and we were delighted to find a large "fall" of migrating passerines. There were dozens of Woodchat Shrikes, 20+ Northern Wheatears, 2 Black-eared Wheatears, 20+ Subalpine Warblers, 10+ Willow Warblers and 6 or 7 Hoopoes. Other birds seen at the marshes included an Osprey, Greenshanks, Spoonbills, Black-headed, Yellow-legged, LBB and Audouin´s Gulls, Kentish Plovers, Sanderlings, Yellow Wagtails and Red-knobbed Coots.
12th March. Today, all four of the group were with me and we headed straight for the Corredor Verde to look for the Black-shouldered Kites that breed there. We were soon rewarded with views of the kites perched and hunting, with one catching a vole and eating it. As we drove through the CV we saw 3 Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, 2 Ospreys, Black Kites, Ravens, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, White Storks, Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, Great Crested Grebes, Hoopoes, Serins, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Blackcaps, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian Warblers and Crested Larks
At the Entremuros and the Cañada de Rianzuela there were Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Shovelers, Little Grebes and many Black-necked Grebes

The afternoon was spent in the northern marsh area, where we found 5 Great White Egrets, Common Cranes, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Yellow Wagtails, Sedge Warblers, Northern Wheatears, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Greater Short-toed Larks, Calandra Larks, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, a Barn Owl, Griffon Vultures and a Short-toed Eagle
11th March. Today was the first of six days that I will be guiding Mark and Tracy Powell from Nantwich, Cheshire, brother Ken Powell and his partner Barbara. I collected the two men from the Casa Doñana (the ladies were having a rest day) and we headed for the sites in the El Rocío area.
Our first stop was at the Puente de Ajolí, where we saw Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Ravens, Black Kites, Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Buzzards, Griffon Vultures, Crested Larks, Great Tits, Spotless Starlings, Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches, Serins, White Wagtails and a Great Spotted Cuckoo.
The next stop was at the El Rocío marshes, where Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Grey Herons, Squacco Herons, Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Redshanks, Little-ringed Plovers, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Pintails, Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails were recorded.
We then drove along the Moguer road for about 2kms and added a Cetti´s Warbler, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Hoopoes and White Storks to our list.
We had our picnic lunch at the El Acebuche centre before visiting some of the bird hides overlooking the lagoon. There were dozens of Iberian Magpies, Black-billed Magpies, a Common Pochard x Ferruginous duck hybrid and a Red-knobbed Coot.
We ended the day at La Rocina, but only managed to add Marsh Harriers and Stonechats to our list.
9th March. A long day for me today as I had to drive 90kms to Punta Umbria to collect two couples from the Hotel Barcelo and bring them back to the Doñana region for a day´s birding. The two couples were Dick and Pauline Gilmore from near Brighton and Matt and Kelly Smith from Tallahasse, Florida.
We stopped briefly at the La Calatilla lagoons to see the nesting Red-knobbed Coots and then made our way to Niebla castle, where about 30 Lesser Kestrels, White Storks, Barn Swallows, Spotted Starlings and Jackdaws kept us entertained for 20 minutes.
We then visited the Corredor Verde to catch the Black-shouldered Kites and luckily we saw at least 6 of them, along with Buzzards, Common Kestrels, Booted Eagles, a Short-toed Eagle, Ravens, Zitting Cisticolas, Iberian Magpies, Crested Larks, Serins, Greenfinches and Corn Buntings.
The winter roosting site, where up to 800 Black-crowned Night Herons spend the winter each year is now almost devoid of birds, although about 300 of the herons have now moved some 3kms to their regular breeding site and are easily seen from the main road near the Entremuros.
Nearby, at the Entremuros, we found Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Spoonbills, Green Sandpipers, Marsh Harriers, Black Kites Southern Grey Shrikes and Black Redstarts.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela there were Greater Flamingos, Black-necked Grebes and Common Pochards.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marsh area and on the way, near the Casa de Bombas we found a Great White Egret, dozens of Common Cranes and two male Hen Harriers.
At the Lucio del Lobo and the JAV centre, we added Shovelers, Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Lapwings, Glossy Ibis, Redshanks and a Common Sandpiper to our list.
At the Caño de Guadiamar there were over 40 Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Purple Herons, a Red-knobbed Coot, White and Yellow Wagtails, Chiffchaffs, Sand Martins and a Sedge Warbler.
Matt spotted a large bird of prey soaring about a kilometre away, which I was able to identify as a juvenile Golden Eagle. About 20 minutes later, at the same location, I spotted an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle, the fourth species of eagle for the day.
As we were leaving the marshes we found a Barn Owl, a Northern Wheatear and a Cuckoo, the latter two being my first sightings of those species this year.

7th March. Today I was again guiding Dave and Anita Martyn from Goldalming, who were also with me on the 27th of February and the 2nd of March. After collecting the couple from their apartment in Villamanrique, I headed for the Laguna de San Lázaro. A strong, cold wind was keeping many birds in the shelter of the trees or scrub, but we did manage to see Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Sardinian Warblers, Collared Doves, Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches and Little Grebes.
We moved on to the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina, but again the wind was unfavourable for birding, although Calandra and Crested Larks, Greenshanks, Corn Buntings, Hen Harriers (M & F), Little and Cattle Egrets, Greater Flamingos, Grey Herons, Common Cranes, Cormorants and Kestrels were seen.
A visit to the "reedbeds" produced a small flock of about 8 Common Waxbills and at the Dehesa de Abajo there were Marsh Harriers, Black Kites, a Booted Eagle, Spotless Starlings, Jackdaws, Serins and Black Redstarts.
6th March. This was my second day with Mick and Jackie Lane and John and Eileen Cotterill. The first site we visited was the castle at Niebla, to see the Lesser Kestrels and we were not disappointed, with about 30 of them being present and showing very well. Also at the castle were Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, Barn Swallows and about 20 Pallid Swifts.
Our next stop was at La Ribera, near Cartaya, where we saw a Hoopoe, a Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Larks, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, Grey Herons and White Storks.
We then moved on to the Marismas de Río Piedras, where we recorded Red-breasted Mergansers, Cormorants, 9 Caspian Terns, Sandwich Terns, Yellow-legged and LBB Gulls, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits, Sanderlings, an Osprey, Little Grebes, Black-billed Magpies and Serins.
A short stop at the Laguna El Portil produced Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebes, Buzzards and two Chameleons.
At the Marismas del Odiel we found Black-headed and Audouin´s Gulls, Curlews, a Spotted Redshank, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, 2 nesting Red-knobbed Coots, a Razorbill and Marsh Harriers.
We ended the day at the Laguna Primera de Palos, but the only addition to our list were Purple Swamp-hens.

5th March. Today´s tour was with Mick and Jackie Lane from Dorset and John and Eileen Cotterill from Norfolk. I collected the group from the Casa Doñana www.casadonana.com in Hinojos and we made straight for the Corredor Verde area, where we saw 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Ravens, Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, Kestrels, a Little Owl, Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Crested Larks, Greenfinches, Corn Buntings, Spotless Starlings, a Cetti´s Warbler, Zitting Cisticolas, Serins, Blackcaps, Great Tits, White Storks, Little Egrets, Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes, Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Black-crowned Night Herons.
A flock of about 250 Glossy Ibis, several Grey Herons, Cattle Egrets and Black Kites were seen at the Entremuros.
A quick visit to the "reedbeds" produced Green, Common and 16 Wood Sandpipers, plus a small group of Common Snipe.
Shovelers and Black-necked Grebes were spotted at the Cañada de Rianzuela and Black Redstarts, Iberian Magpies and a Short-toed Treecreeper accompanied us as we enjoyed our picnic lunch at the Pozo de las Conejos.
Driving out to the northern marshes after lunch, we saw Spoonbills, Common Cranes and Great White Egrets.
In a large flooded field to the west of the Huerta Tejada there were Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Ruff, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwings and a few Gadwalls.
At the JAV centre we saw 3 Penduline Tits, 7 male Garganeys, Purple Swamp-hens, Little Grebes and Greater Flamingos.
There were 3 Squacco Herons, Red-crested Pochards, Barn Swallows, White and Yellow Wagtails and 2 Purple Herons (the first of the year for me) at the Caña de Guadiamar.
As we were leaving the marshes, we saw 3 Short-toed Eagles, Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks and 2 Black Storks.

3rd March. With me today were Genevieve Nicholls and her son Sylvan from France and Rick and Coral Botterley from Dorset. After collecting them from near Sevilla, we headed straight for the Corredor Verde, where the first bird seen was a Short-toed Eagle, one of four seen during the day. This was quickly followed by Meadow Pipits, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Serins, a Cetti´s Warbler, Zitting Citicolas, White Storks, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Black Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kites, Little Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards and Tufted Ducks.
Although many of the Black-crowned Night Herons remain at their winter roost, a 100 or more have now moved about 4 kilometres to their regular breeding site.
At the Entremuros, there were large numbers of Cattle Egrets and about 500 Glossy Ibis.
In the northern marshes we found 100´s of Common Cranes, Spoonbills, 7 Great White Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Ringed Plovers, Green Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Pintails, Great Crested Grebes, a Red-knobbed Coot, White and Yellow Wagtails, Lesser Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Marsh Harriers, 4 Hen Harriers, a Booted Eagle, an Osprey and a Peregrine Falcon.

2nd March. Today´s tour included Dave and Anita Martyn from Godalming and Roger and Viv Greef. We began at the Puente de Ajolí and found Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, White Storks, Meadow Pipits, Blackcaps, Great Tits, Serins, Tree Sparrows, Green Sandpipers, Kingfishers, Ravens, Red Kites, a Black-shouldered Kite, Kestrels, Black-billed Magpies and 4 Great Spotted Cuckoos.
We then drove to the Corredor Verde, where Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Corn Buntings, Buzzards, a Bluethroat, Crested Larks, Black Redstarts, Zitting Cisticolas, Southern Grey Shrikes, Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Black Kites and more Black-shouldered Kites were seen.
We the afternoon in the northern marshes area. Here there were Spoonills, Great White Egrets, Greater Flamingos, Common Cranes, Black Storks, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Shovelers, Pintails, Red-crested Pochards, Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers, an Osprey and Calandra Larks.