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Trip Reports. May 2007

26th of May - 2nd of June.
26th May. This was the start of a one-week packaged birding holiday of Extremadura and Doñana with Andre Weiss Pryde, Fritz and Margit Galli and Herbert, Esther and Markus Mohr from Winterthur in Switzerland.
Rebecca and I met the group at 13.00hrs at Sevilla airport and we started the drive up to the Extremadura region. We made a stop for lunch and then continued until we reached a lagoon 15 kms from Caceres. Here we saw Bee-eaters, Serins, Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Hoopoes, Spotless Starlings, Iberian Magpies, Black-winged Stilts, Ringed Plovers, Great Crested and Little Grebes, White Storks, Grey Herons, Collared Pratincoles, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts and Little Terns.
After another stop for drinks, we reached the Llanos de Caceres at 18.00hrs. Within 100mts of turning on to the plains, we found 4 Great Spotted Cuckoos. Continuing further we saw 6 Southern Grey Shrikes, Calandra and Crested Larks, Little Owls, 2 Little Bustards (males), 7 Great Bustards, Montagu´s Harriers, Kestrels, Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Griffon and Black Vultures, Black Kites, Jackdaws and Rollers. We then drove off the plains and made our way to our hostal in Trujillo.

27th May. A visit to Monfragüe National Park was the itinerary for today. We stopped first at the Arroyo de la Vid, finding Great and Long-tailed Tits, Melodious Warblers, Linnets, a Jay, Spanish Sparrows, Serins, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Stonechats, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Blue Rock Thrush. Overhead we saw Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vultures, Ravens and Black Kites.
We climbed up to the Castillo de Monfragüe, where there were Crag and House Martins and Red-rumped Swallows.
We then drove to the Peña Falcon, where a large number of all three vultures were seen. There were also Rock Buntings, Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Redstarts, Barn Swallows, Alpine Swifts, Blue Tits and Black Storks.
We had lunch at Villareal de San Carlos before driving on to the La Tajandilla observatíon point. On the way, we made a stop and found Short-toed Eagles, Black-eared Wheatears, Thekla Larks, Turtle Doves, Cirl Buntings and Dartford Warblers.
At the Portillo de Tietar, there was the usual array of vultures, but the star birds of the day were an adult and two young Eagle Owls, all showing very well for over an hour.

28th May. This morning we visited the Belen plains where, apart from many of the previously mentioned birds, we also found Stone Curlews, Red-legged Partridges, Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Red Kites, Booted Eagles and 12 Great Spotted Cuckoos.
We had lunch in the main plaza in Trujillo, watching Pallid Swifts, Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and White Storks.
In the afternoon we drove along the road to Monroy, seeing thousands of birds, but adding nothing new to our trip list.
In the evening we stopped at the Embalse de Guadiloba, where we saw 13 Great Bustards, 4 Great Spotted Cuckoos, Collared Pratincoles, Great Crested Grebes, Little Terns, White Wagtails, Hoopoes, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes and Zitting Cisticolas.

29th May. This was our last day in Extremadura and we started off back at the Embalse de Guadiloba. More Great Bustards were found and there were also Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Iberian Magpies, Black-billed Magpies and Southern Grey Shrikes.
We then drove to the Santa de Magascar plains and saw 100´s of Spanish Sparrows, Greater Short-toed Larks, Great Bustards, Red-legged Partridges, Montagu´s Harriers, Kestrels and Short-toed Eagles.
We then drove across the plains towards Caceres. En-route we had excellent views of two Spanish Imperial Eagles, displaying in the sky above us. Also seen were 13 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 2 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, 4 Little Owls, Calandra Larks, Crested and Thekla Larks and Woodchat Shrikes.
We had lunch just outside Caceres before starting the journey down to the Doñana region.
We then stopped at the Embalse de Proserpina, near Merida and an hour here produced 3 Purple Herons, Little Egrets, a Squacco Heron, Southern Grey Shrikes, Serins and a host of other passerines.

30th May. This was our first day in Doñana and we travelled to the west of the region and visited the Marismas del Odiel and numerous other sites. On the way we saw a great number of Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes and Black Kites
Our first stop was at the two small lagoons near the La Caletilla restaurant on the Odiel marshes. Here we saw a family of Red-knobbed Coots, consisting of 2 adults and 4 fairly well developed chicks. At least 2 Little Bitterns were also seen, along with Gadwalls, Red-crested Pochards, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebes, Yellow Wagtails, Zitting Cisticolas, Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins.
As we crossed over the large bridge connecting the Isla Enmedio and the Isla de Saltres, we had good views of a Peregrine Falcon. Also seen were Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels and Montagu´s and Marsh Harriers.
At Cabezas Alta there were many waders feeding on the exposed mudflats and we recorded Spoonbills, Little and Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Whimbrels, Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Red Knots, Kentish, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Common Redshanks, Sanderlings, Turnstones and Little Stints.
Our next stop was at the usual gull roosting site and here we found 50+ Audouins Gulls, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Sandwich, Whiskered and Little Terns, 9 Common Terns and, strangely, 3 Melodious Warblers.
We left the marshes and drove to El Rompido, where we had a pleasant lunch. We then visited the Laguna El Portil. On arriving, I immediately picked out 2 male White-headed Ducks, floating on the water just 50 metres away and offering cracking views for 10 minutes, before they drifted off into the reeds. Other birds seen here included Common Pochards, Great Crested Grebes, 13 Black Terns, Little Bitterns and Little-ringed Plovers. We also found 3 Mediterranean Chameleons in the nearby Spanish Broom trees.
Our next port of call was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, which produced Whiskered Terns, Purple Swamp-hens , Spoonbills, Purple, Grey and Squacco Herons, Common Coots, Bee-eaters, Barn Swallows, Crested Larks and Zitting Cisticolas.
Our last stop was at Niebla castle, where Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and Common Swifts were seen.

31st May. Today we headed for the sites near El Rocío, but on the way from Hinojos I stopped at the recreation area of El Arrayan, where I knew there was a strong chance of finding Green Woodpeckers. Sure enough, two were heard calling almost immediately and we had a few views of at least one of them. There were also Blue Tits, Crested Tits, Iberian Magpies and Hoopoes present.
At El Rocío marshes we recorded Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, White Storks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebes, Whiskered Terns, Black Kites, Reed and Great Reed Warblers and an Olivaceous Warbler.
At the La Rocina Visitors Centre we saw Spotted Flycatchers, Chaffinches, a Hawfinch, Serins, a Cuckoo, Zitting Cisticolas, Hoopoes, Tree Sparrows, Woodchat Shrikes, Marsh Harriers and a family of Purple Swamp-hens.
After a picnic lunch at El Acebuche, accompanied by Iberian and Black-billed Magpies, Serins and Hoopoes, we headed out through Villamanrique to the northern marshes area. En-route we saw 3 Short-toed Eagles, a Booted Eagle, Kestrels, Black Kites, Black-crowned Night Herons, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks and Corn Buntings.
In the northern marshes there were Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Little and Cattle Egrets, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Grey Herons, Squacco Herons, Glossy Ibis, Purple Herons, Black-tailed Godwits, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Little Bitterns, Black-headed Gulls, Sand Martins, Red-rumped Swallows, Great Reed Warblers, Savi´s Warblers, Woodchat Shrikes and Marsh Harriers. The most amazing find of the day was 2 Common Cranes. These are winter visitors and usually have all departed by early April, so what these two were still doing in Doñana eight weeks after I recorded my last one is a mystery. Still, they were a very welcome addition to the bird list.

1st June. In the morning we visited the Corredor Verde, where our main target bird was the Black-shouldered Kite. It didn´t take long to find 3 of these splendid raptors and we had good views of the birds hunting and perched on telegraph poles. We also recorded 2 Nightingales, a Cetti´s Warbler, Woodchat Shrikes, Zitting Cisticolas, Corn Buntings, Serins, Melodious Warblers, Tree Sparrows, Crested Larks, Black Kites, Short-toed Eagles, Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, Ravens, Common and Pallid Swifts, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Iberian Magpies, Bee-eaters and Hoopoes.
We then visited the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina, finding Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Yellow Wagtails, a Tawny Pipit, Great Reed Warblers, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Spoonbills and Spanish Sparrows.
In the afternoon, we crossed the Río Guadalquivir and visited a few sites around the Brazo del Este area. Surprisingly, apart from the ricefields, the area is quite dry, so we did not see the anticipated number of waders that I had hoped for. There were plenty of Purple Swamp-hens, a few Purple Herons, Green Sandpipers and Greylag Geese, but the best sightings were of 4 Common Waxbills and a number of Golden Bishops, with the males almost in full breeding plumage.

2nd June. This was the last day for the group and we had just 2 hours of birding possible before taking them back to the airport for their return flight to Switzerland. We visited the Dehesa de Banco and were rewarded with views of up to 10 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. There were also Calandra Larks, Collared Pratincoles, Cattle Egrets, Crested Larks, Bee-eaters and Black Kites present.
We finished the birding at the Cañada de Rianzuela, where Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Red-crested Pochards, Spoonbills, Grey Herons, White Storks, Little Egrets, Zitting Cisticolas, Great Reed Warblers, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Jackdaws and Hoopoes were seen.
During the tour, the group recorded 164 species, with varying numbers of “lifers” for each member.

24th May. Daniel Lindberg and Anna Berglund from Sweden were with me again today and they were joined by James Gloyne from the Isle of Wight. We began the birding along the Corredor Verde where we saw Buzzards, Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kites, Bee-eaters, Melodious Warblers, Great Tits and Hoopoes.
At the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo there were Iberian Magpies, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, a Little Owl, Common and Pallid Swifts, Barn Swallows, Tree Sparrows, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks and a Cuckoo.
All three of the group wanted to see Spanish Imperial Eagles, so I drove out to the nesting site in the Isla Mayor region and we were rewarded with excellent views of the two adults and two almost fully grown eaglets, which although still in the nest, are testing their flight muscles.
We then searched several of the recently flooded ricefields and found Black and Gull-billed Terns, Little-ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebes, Spoonbills, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Grey Herons, Glossy Ibis and Greylag Geese.
After a picnic lunch at the Dehesa de Abajo, we drove to the northern marshes area, where we saw Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Greater Short-toed Larks, Purple and Squacco Herons, Little Bitterns, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Great Crested Grebes, 8 Slender-billed Gulls, Lapwings, Collared Pratincoles, Greater Flamingos, Short-toed Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Yellow Wagtails, 3 Savi´s Warblers and a Spectacled Warbler.

23rd May. Today´s tour was with Daniel Lindberg and Anna Berglund from Sweden, who had been previously be visiting the Malaga lake district, staying with and being guided by my old friend Keith Seville of www.fincalimoneros.com.
I collected the couple from their hotel in Sanlúcar la Mayor and we drove straight to the Las Doblas site, where we found Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, a Hobby, a Cuckoo, Zitting Cisticolas, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, a Hoopoe, Iberian Magpies, Great Reed Warblers, Turtle Doves, Grey and Purple Herons, Common Swifts, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Chaffinches.
Our next stop was to be the Torre de San Antonio, a regular breeding site for Lesser Kestrels and a place were Rollers had bred in the last two seasons. On arriving, I immediately spotted 2 Rollers flying away from us and we quickly gave chase with our scopes. We ended up having excellent, prolonged views of 3 Rollers, along with 20+ Lesser Kestrels. There are now 3 pairs of Rollers breeding at the tower.
Other birds seen in this area included Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, 3 male Montagu´s Harriers and a pair of Black-shouldered Kites.
We then had quite a long drive to get to the Brazo del Este. Unfortunately, the river is still dry, as a consequence of the flow of water being blocked whilst a new dam is being constructed. However, the flooded ricefields offered some birds, in the shape of Little and Cattle Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts and Whiskered Terns.
Our next stop was at the Lago de Diego Puerta, near Villafranco y Los Palacios. Here, there were Black-crowned Night Herons, 2 Little Bitterns, Melodious, Reed and Olivaceous Warblers, Pallid Swifts, Barn Swallows and a small flock of Common Waxbills.
We finished at another nearby lagoon, where there were Spoonbills, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Collared Pratincoles, a Wood Sandpiper and a Short-toed Eagle.

22nd May. With me today were Chris Ashworth from Lancashire and his friend Dave Higgot from Yorkshire. We got off to a rather late start due to a minunderstanding of the one hour difference between British time and Spanish time. The pair had arrived late at night on the 21st and had forgotten to put their clocks/watches forward.
We began the birding in the Corredor Verde and after notching up Zitting Cisticolas, Goldfinches, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes and Crested Larks, we found a juvenile Black Stork feeding in a small pool. Elsewhere in the CV we found Red-rumped Swallows, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Bee-eaters, Tree Sparrows, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, White Storks and Cattle Egrets.
A short drive to the Dehesa de Pilas produced hundreds of Spanish Sparrows and a few Collared Pratincoles.
In the Isla Mayor area there were Common and Red-crested Pochards, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Black Terns, Greylag Geese, Little Grebes, Little-ringed Plovers, Jackdaws, Yellow Wagtails, Barn Swallows, Common and Pallid Swifts, Greenfinches and 2 Common Waxbills.
Our drive out to the northern marshes produced Black-crowned Night Herons, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, a Short-toed Eagle and Ravens.
At the Caño de Guadiamar we saw 2 male White-headed Ducks, 2 Little Bitterns, Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, 2 Slender-billed Gulls, Whiskered Terns, Squacco and Purple Herons, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Avocets, a Purple Swamp-hen, Great Reed Warblers, Lapwings and Griffon Vultures.

21st May. Today I was guiding Per Chilstrom from Manhatten and Mike Hodgkin and his friends John and Bernie from Nottingham. We began the birding at the Corredor Verde, where we found Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, Woodchat Shrikes, a Little Owl, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, an Olivaceous Warbler, Nightingales, Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Cuckoos, Cattle Egrets and White Storks.
We then moved on to the Dehesa de Pilas, where we saw Bee-eaters, Common Swifts, Collared Pratincoles and 100´s of Spanish Sparrows.
In the Isla Mayor region there were Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Greylag Geese, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, Black-winged Stilts, Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Black Terns and Black-crowned Night Herons.
In the afternoon, we visited the northern marshes and saw Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Calandra Larks, Corn Buntings, Yellow Wagtails, Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls, Squacco and Purple Herons, 5 Little Bitterns, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows, 5 Short-toed Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Marsh Harriers, Whiskered, Little and Gull-billed Terns, a White-headed Duck and Great Reed Warblers.

15th May. Today´s tour was with Erin Goodman and Sadia Ramirez from Vancouver, Canada, David James and Sue McKernan from Brighton and Dave Pearson from Winchester. Our first stops were at the Puente de Ajolí and the Arroyo de las Cañadas, where we saw Black-shouldered Kites, Black Kites, a Sparrowhawk, Griffon Vultures, Ravens, Jackdaws, White Storks, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Common Sandpipers, Serins, Goldfinches, Great Tits, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Barn Swallows, Spotless Starlings, a Kingfisher, Bee-eaters and Melodious Warblers.
At the Corredor Verde, we found more Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Woodchat Shrikes, Zitting Cisticolas, Common Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows and Greenfinches.
In the Isla Mayor ricefields and the Cañada de Rianzuela there were Black Terns, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Greylag Geese and two Ruddy Shelducks.
We toured around some of the sites in the northern marshes during the afternoon and saw Ringed Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Collared Pratincoles, Squacco, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Glossy Ibis, a Little Bittern, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls, White-headed Ducks, Great Reed and Savís Warblers, Sand Martins, Greater Short-toed Larks, a Little Owl and Short-toed Eagles.

12th, 13th & 14th May. These three days were spent guiding a group of 24 birders (8 per day) from the UK. To give every person the chance of seeing the same birds, each tour followed the same itinerary.
We began each morning at the Puente de Ajoli, before moving on to the Corredor Verde and the Isla Mayor. In the afternoons we visited the northern marshes, the Partido de Resina and the Dehesa de Abajo.
More than 100 bird species were recorded, but of course, not everybody saw each bird, but the average trip count was between 70 and 80 per day.
Some of the more noteable birds seen were White-headed Ducks, Little Bitterns, Collared Praincoles, Great White Egrets, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Montagu´s Harriers, Griffon Vultures, Black-shouldered Kites, a Ruddy Shelduck, Curlew Sandpipers, Squacco, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Spanish Sparrows, Spoonbills, Little Stints, Gull-billed, Black and Whiskered Terns, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingos, Little-ringed Plovers, Nightingales, Cetti´s, Melodious and Savi´s Warblers, Red-rumped Swallows, Pallid Swifts, Short-toed Eagles and a Western Reef Heron.

9th May. Today´s tour was with Rod Nuttall and Mike Dixon from Manchester and Peter and Margaret McDermot and their friend Patrick from Ireland.
We began by driving through part of the Corredor Verde, finding Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Ravens, Kestrels, Black Kites, a Montagu´s Harrier, Woodchat Shrikes, a Little Owl, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Tree Sparrows, Melodious Warblers, Turtle Doves, Nightingales, Serins, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Common and Pallid Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows.
We then visited the Dehesa de Pilas, where there were White Storks, Bee-eaters, Spotless Starlings, Collared Pratincoles, Barn Swallows and Spanish Sparrows.
In the ricefields, near the Entremuros, we found Redshanks, Greenshanks, Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers and Black-winged Stilts.
A male White-headed Duck, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Black Terns, Jackdaws, Great Reed Warblers and Yellow Wagtails were seen at the Cañada de Rianzuela.
We had our picnic lunch at the Fuente de las Conejos, accompanied by Iberian Magpies, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Great Tits and Sardinian Warblers.
As we were driving out toward the northern marshes, we saw Several Short-toed Eagles, Kentish Plovers, a Tawny Pipit, Northern Wheatears and both Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks.
The Caño de Guadiamar produced Purple Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Avocets, Spoonbills, Gadwalls, 2 Little Bitterns, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Grey Plovers, Lapwings, Turnstones, 2 Great White Egrets, Greater Flamingos, Marsh Harriers and a Savi´s Warbler. We also had close-up views of about 15 Griffon Vultures.
The Western Reef Heron was again seen sitting on its nest at the JAV centre, along with Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons.

7th May. With me today were Tim Farr from near Yeovil in Somerset and 3 of his friends. They were joined by David and Liz Phillips from the UK, who were also with me last September.
Our first stop was at the Puente de Ajolí near El Rocío and the first bird we saw on arrival was a Nightingale, singing from an exposed branch and offering great views. Several Bee-eaters, Tree Sparrows, Barn Swallows, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Stonechats, Serins, Goldfinches, White Storks, Black Kites and Grey Herons were also present. Two fairly distant Black-shouldered Kites showed up very well in the telescopes. As we were about to leave, two Great Spotted Cuckoos landed on the track, about 30 metres away.
As we drove along the El Rocío to Villamanrique road, we saw Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Buzzards, a Melodious Warbler and a Dartford Warbler.
At the Corredor Verde, there were Hoopoes, Greenfinches, Red-legged Partridges, Red-rumped Swallows, Ravens, Kestrels, Booted Eagles, an Osprey and two more (much closer) Black-shouldered Kites.
A visit to the Dehesa de Pilas produced Spanish Sparrows and Collared Pratincoles.
In a few recently flooded rice fields near the Entremuros, we saw Redshanks, Greenshanks, Common Sandpipers, Black and Gull-billed Terns and Ringed Plovers.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marsh area and at a flooded field near the Huerta Tejada, we found Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls and Whiskered Terns.
On the way to the JAV, we saw both Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks and Marsh Harriers.
At the JAV centre, I was informed that the National Park staff and some volunteers had spent the morning “ringing” the Glossy Ibis chicks. Apparently, over 780 had been dealt with, but because of the very large number of chicks born this year, the staff will come back next week to complete the task. Scanning the mixed breeding colony, we saw Squacco, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets and a little Bittern. On the lagoon there were Great Crested and Little Grebes, Common Pochards and a male Garganey. Several Great Reed warblers sang from the top of the reeds.
My priority here was to try to re-locate the Western Reef Heron that I had seen on three previous occasions. Finally, I found it sitting on a nest in a tamarisk tree at the back of the reedbeds.
I do not know if it is a male or female, but it has mated with a Little Egret. Now that I know the location of the nest, I should be able to show the bird to all future clients for the next few weeks.

We then visited the Cañada de Rosaliman, finding Turnstones, Curlew Sandpipers, Grey Plovers, Great White Egrets, Lapwings and Little Stints. We also saw Yellow Wagtails and Griffon Vultures.
As we were leaving the marshes, we found a female Montagu´s Harrier, a Red Kite and 5 Short-toed Eagles.

5th May. Today, I was again guiding Tom and Muriel Cadwallendar and three of their friends from Northumberland, who were with me during the bad weather three days ago. Today, the weather was fine, so the prospect of a better birding day was hoped for.
We began the birding at the Puente de Ajolí near El Rocío and saw a distant pair of Black-shouldered Kites. Better views were had of a Nightingale, a Cetti´s Warbler, 2 Penduline Tits, Bee-eaters, Serins, Great Tits, Crested Larks, Spotless Starlings and Corn Buntings.
We moved on to the Corredor Verde, seeing Woodchat Shrikes, Tree Sparrows, Iberian Magpies, White Storks and a Little Owl on the way. Closer views of Black-shouldered Kites were had and we also saw Buzzards, Kestrels, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Ravens, Zitting Cisticolas and Red-rumped Swallows.
I stopped at an agricultural field just outside Villamanrique, which I knew held nesting Collared Pratincoles and we were able to see a good number of them at fairly close quarters. I spotted a group of 5 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, no more than 50 metres from the vehicle and a number of Greater Short-toed Larks were also present.
As we passed a recently flooded ricefield, near the Entremuros, we found a Ruddy Shelduck. Nearby, there were Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons.
At the Dehesa de Abajo we recorded Red-crested and Common Pochards, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Jackdaws, a Subalpine Warbler and Gull-billed Terns.
We spent the afternoon exploring the northern marshes area and at the Caño de Guadiamar we found Great Reed Warblers, Lesser Short-toed Larks, Black-necked Grebes, a Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Herons, Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Black-tailed Godwits, Black-winged Stilts, Ringed Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Redshanks, Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins, Marsh Harriers, a Montagu´s Harrier and 4 Short-toed Eagles.
At the JAV centre, there were Glossy Ibis, Purple Herons, Squacco Herons, Little Egrets, Whiskered Terns and Avocets. As I scanned the far reedbeds, I once again located the Western Reef Heron that I had found on two previous occasions.
As we were leaving the marshes, I stopped at two flooded fields and we managed to find Red Knots, Grey and Kentish Plovers, Dunlin and at least 12 Slender-billed Gulls.

4th May. Philip and Katherine Cropper from Rugby were with me for a second day and they were joined by Val and Glyn Cork from Dover.
We began at Villamanrique and drove straight to the Corredor Verde area, where we found 3 Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Ravens, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Zitting Cisticolas, Serins, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Woodchat Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallows and Great Tits.
The next stop was at the “turf farm”, where there were large numbers of Collared Pratincoles, Ringed Plovers, Bee-eaters and 2 Golden Orioles. Nearby, at the Dehesa de Pilas, there were Spanish Sparrows, Pallid and Common Swifts, White Storks, a Short-toed Eagle and Kestrels.
At the Cañada de Rianzuela we saw Little Egrets, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Jackdaws and Gull-billed Terns.
After a picnic lunch, we drove out to the northern marshes, finding Grey, Purple, Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons, Black Storks, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Great White Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Whiskered Terns, Griffon Vultures, Red Kites, Greater Short-toed Larks, Great Reed Warblers, a Garden Warbler and 3 more Golden Orioles.

3rd May. Today´s tour included Jesper Vinzents, his wife and two friends from Denmark. Also on the tour were Paul and Katherine Cropper from Rugby.
We started the birding near Niebla, where Montagu´s Harriers, Kestrels, Ravens, White Storks, Barn Swallows, Crested Larks and Zitting Cisticolas were seen.
At the castle in Niebla, we had excellent views of the resident Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and Pallid Swifts.
We then visited the Marismas del Odiel. Once again, the Red-kobbed Coots and their chicks showed very well at the lagoon near La Caletilla. At this point we also saw a Little Bittern, Black-winged Stilts, Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Little Grebes, Dunlin, Red Knots, Curlew Sandpipers, Redshanks, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Sanderlings and Little Stints.
As we drove further along the marshes, we found Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Red Knots, Greenshanks, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Grey Plovers, Curlews, Whimbrels, Little, Whiskered and Sandwich Terns and both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Our next stop was at the marshes of the Río Piedras. Unfortunately, the tide was now quite high and there were no waders present. However, we managed to see Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Stone Curlews, Purple Swamp-hens, Red-legged Partridges, Serins and Goldfinches.
We stopped at the Laguna El Portil, where Great Crested Grebes, Common Pochards, Buzzards, Black Terns, Common Swifts, House and Sand Martins and Hoopoes were seen, along with another Little Bittern. We also found two Chameleons in the Spanish broom trees.
Our last stop was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we added Purple and Squacco Herons to our list.

2nd May. With me today were Tom and Muriel Cadwallendar and three of their friends from Northumberland.
It was pouring with rain as I collected the group from El Rocío and the bad weather was forecasted to continue for much of the day, so I offered them the chance to abandon the tour. The intrepid group decided to press ahead and hopefully do some birding, instead of sitting around the hotel all day.
We first drove to Niebla, in the hope of seeing the Lesser Kestrels, but the rain was so hard that we couldn´t get out of the vehicle or even see anything out of the windows.
Our next stop was at the Marismas del Odiel and just as we arrived at the two lagoons near La Caletilla, it stopped raining. This gave us the chance to see the pair of Red-knobbed Coots and their four chicks. We also saw Greater Flamingos, Little Terns, Dunlin, Little Stints, Turnstones, Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Common Shelducks, Black-winged Stilts, Grey Plovers and Red-rumped Swallows.
After about 30 minutes, it started to rain again, so we drove further along the marshes. Another break in the rain allowed us to find Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings, Curlews, Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits, Little Egrets and a flock of about 380 Red Knots, nearly all in full breeding plumage.
The rain started again, so we moved on a bit further, where we found a large flock of gulls. From the vehicle we could see Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backs and a number of Audouin´s Gulls, plus a few Sandwich Terns.
Time to move again, but after 5kms we noticed that the sky was clearing behind us, so we decided to head for the clear patch. By the time we had got back to the gull roost, the sun was breaking through and we could get out of the vehicle and use the ´scopes.
It was now getting close to lunch time, so I suggested driving to the Marismas de Río Piedras first, to try to find anything there before the tide came in. On the way off the Odiel marshes we saw Gannets, Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets, Black-billed Magpies, Spotless Starlings, Marsh Harriers, Montagu´s Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon and 3 Golden Orioles.
By the time we reached the Río Piedras, it was raining again, but we did see Cormorants and 3 Caspian Terns from the comfort of the car.
We had a rather wet and windy picnic lunch near Cartaya, adding Collared Doves and Iberian Magpies in the process.
A short stop (in glorious sunshine) at the Laguna El Portil produced Black Terns, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Common Pohards and a Buzzard.
Back to the Marismas del Odiel, in the hope of finding more birds, but apart from Yellow Wagtails and a single Sardinian Warbler, there was nothing new.
Our last stop was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we added Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, a Purple Heron and Whiskered Terns to our list before more rain put a final end to the birding.
All in all, we had quite a good day, despite the weather and it certainly beat sitting around in a hotel room all day long.
The group are with me again on Saturday, so I hope the weather will be kinder to them.

1st May. Today´s tour was with Lucy Mather from Marbella and her parents, Brian and Sylvie from the UK. Our first stop was at the Corredor Verde, where we saw Serins, Hoopoes, Greenfinches, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Spotless Starlings, Woodchat Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallows, Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, Black Kites, Ravens, Black-shouldered Kites, White Storks, Black Storks and an Osprey.
We then visited the Dehesa de Pilas, where there were Spanish Sparrows, Bee-eaters, a Golden Oriole, Common Swifts, Barn Swallows, Calandra Larks, a Montagu´s Harrier and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.
After a picnic lunch at the Dehesa de Abajo, where we saw Common and Red-crested Pochards, Little Grebes, Little Egrets and Grey Herons, we drove out to the northern marshes.
At the Caño de Guadiamar, we found Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Yellow Wagtails, a Red Kite, Marsh Harriers, Great Crested Grebes, Great Reed Warblers, a Savi´s Warbler, Sand Martins, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, 2 Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits.
A visit to the JAV centre produced Glossy Ibis, Squacco, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Gadwalls and Avocets. As I was scanning the reedbeds near the centre I managed to find a Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis gularis) Our last stop was a a shallow, man-made pool near the Doñana Biological station. Here, apart from many of the previously mentioned species, I also found 2 Slender-billed Gulls.