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TRIP REPORTS. SEPTEMBER 2006.

30th September. Today was my second day with the group of 23 from the London Wetland Centre. After collecting the group from El Rocío, we proceeded to the El Acebuche Visitors Centre to try to get close-up views and photographs of the Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies. I crushed several packets of biscuits underfoot and spread the small crumbs on two of the picnic tables. Within a couple of minutes there were over 30 magpies feeding just a few metres away, along with two Black-billed Magpies.
Our next stop was the Laguna Primera de Palos. Within a minute of arriving I had located two Red-knobbed Coots, one of the main targets for the day. Soon after this, about 8 Purple Swamp-hens, a Squacco Heron, Little and Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons were also seen, but a distant Little-ringed Plover was the only other wading bird found. Suddenly, amongst the Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls flying overhead, there was a Caspian Tern, which circled over the water for a few minutes, giving good views to everyone. Cormorants, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Common Pochards and a Buzzard rounded of the birds at this site.
After a short drive, we arrived at the Paraje Natural Estero de Domingo Rubio, a large wetland a few kilometres in fom the coast. Just after parking the vehicles, a Cetti´s Warbler sat up well and was seen by many of the group. More fleeting views were had of 3 or 4 more Cetti´s. Most of the birds were centred on a muddy margin and we recorded Black Terns (4), Whiskered Terns (3), a Common Tern, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Ringed Plovers, a Black-tailed Godwit, Willow Warblers, a White Wagtail and a Kingfisher. White Storks flew overhead and about 20 Spoonbills were feeding in the deeper water.
After a pleasant 90 minute sit-down lunch at a bar/restaurant near Cartaya, we drove to the Maismas de Río Piedras. It was low tide, so there were plenty of waders feeding on the muddy banks. Curlews and Whimbrels were the most numerous, but there were also Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Redshanks, Oystercatchers and a beautiful Grey Plover in full breeding plumage. In the same area there were also Red-legged Partridges, Dartford Warblers, Northern Wheatears, a Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Larks, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Sandwich Terns.
Our last stop of the day was at the Marismas del Odiel and here we added Greater Flamingos, Kenish Plovers, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Gannets, Marsh Harriers and an Osprey to our list.


29th September. Today I was guiding a group of 23 members of staff and volunteer workers from the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. The group are here on one of my 5-day, 4-night inclusive package tours and will be birding with me for the next two days.
I collected the group from their hotel in El Rocío and we headed straight for the Raya Real and the Arroyo de Partido. As we looked out over La Dehesilla we saw Red Kites, Common Kestrels and a Black-shouldered Kite. In the trees and undergrowth by the stream there were Blue Tits, Redstarts, Sardinian, Willow and Cetti´s Warblers, Whitethroats, Spotless Starlings, Black-billed Magpies, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Whinchats, Corn Buntings and Goldfinches.
Our next stop was at the Raya Real, near to the Bar la Parra and here we saw Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Tree Sparrows, Ravens and Common Buzzrds
We then drove to the Dehesa de Banco area and had excellent prolonged views of a Short-toed Eagle, a Common Buzzard and a female Marsh Harrier, all circling above and around us at the same time.
We stopped at the Entremuros and spent about 20 minutes watching Little Cattle Egrets, Lapwings, White Storks, Grey Herons and several species of Dragonflies. The group were also very interested in the Red Swamp Crayfish that were in the irrigation ditches.
We had our lunch in a bar/restaurant in Isla Mayor and then proceeded to the Cantarita area, looking for waders. We were not disappointed and a one hour search revealed Black Storks, Common and Spotted Redshanks, Ruff, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Ringed and Little-ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Yellow Wagtails, a Kingfisher and a Great white Egret. It was here that we had the "find" of the day in the shape of a Pectoral Sandpiper, stood just 25 metres away from us and seen very well by many of the group.
We then re-crossed the Entremuros and visited the northern marshes area. Although mostly dry, there is water and plenty of birds at the Caño de Guadiamar and in the wetlands there were Greater Flamingos, Avocets, a Curlew Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Pintails, Teal and Gadwalls. Overhead, we saw Griffon Vultures, a Booted Eagle, a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine Falcon.
26th September. John and Pam Smallwood from Birmingham were with me again today for a second day of birding and they were joined by John and Betty Winnard from Derbyshire and Brian Harris from near Cheltenham.
As we drove from El Rocío to Villamanrique we diverted onto the Raya Real and found Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Pied Flycatchers, Crested Larks, Spotless Starlings, Willow Warblers, Stonechats, Whinchats and a Whitethroat.
At the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo there were Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Great Crested Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Common Sandpipers and Cormorants.
In the Correor Verde we found Southern Grey Shrikes, Common Kestrels, Common Buzzards, Goldfinches, Serins, Yellow Wagtails, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, Corn Buntings, Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Black-crowned Night Herons and Marsh Harriers.
The most surprising thing was finding two Black-winged Stilts and as we watched, they began mating. This is very early, as the mating process does not normally begin until late October/early November.
From the Corredor Verde, we headed for the Brazo del Este area and as we passed through the Isla Mayor ricefields we saw Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Green Sandpipers, a Montagu´s Harriers and Booted Eagles.
At the Brazo del Este there were Greater Flamingos, Little-ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Common Snipe, Purple Swamp-hens, Squacco Herons, Wood Sandpipers, Whiskered Terns, Spanish Sparrows, Sand Martins, Common Waxbills, Ravens, Ospreys and a Peregrine Falcon.

25th September. With me today were John and Pam Smallwood from near Birmingham in the midlands and Jose and Teresa Santos from near Lisbon, Portugal. I collected the four from El Rocío and drove along the Arroyo de la Cañadas, spotting a Kingfisher, a Greenshank, Moorhens, Cattle Egrets and Black-billed Magpies.
We joined the Villamanrique road and drove to the Raya Real. On the way we saw numerous Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, which are passing through the area on their migration back to Africa. As we drove along the Raya Real there were many Iberian Magpies, Crested Larks and at least 12 Hoopoes.
Our next stops were at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, were we saw Grey Herons, 4 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plovers, Avocets, Back-winged Stilts, Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes, Shovelers and Red-crested Pochards.
We then drove through the Corredor Verde and found Common Buzzards, Black-shouldered Kites, a Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagles, Southern Grey Shrikes, a Little Owl, Goldfinces, Greenfinches, Serins, Red-rumped Swallows, Yellow Wagtils, Willow Warblers and about 200 Black-crowned Night Herons.
At the "reedbeds",in the Isla Mayor area, there were several Golden Bishops, a sizeable flock of Common Waxbills, Reed Warblers and a group of 5 Marbled Ducks.


Elsewhwere in the ricefields there were Greater Flamingos, Little Egrets, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, 100´s of Glossy Ibis, Pintails, White Storks, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Black Tern and Marsh Harriers.
In the afternoon we visited the northern marshes area and at the Caño de Guadiamar we found Griffon Vultures, Common Kestrels, Red Kites, Spoonbills, Dunlins, 22 Black Storks, Redshanks, Lapwings, Kentish Plovers, 6 Little Stints, Lapwings, Sardinian Warblers, Whinchats, Northern Wheatears and Gadwalls, plus many of the prevously mentioned species.
21st September On my tour today were David and Liz Malcomson from England and Ray Turnbull from Australia. We began, as usual, at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde. At the lagoons we saw Grey Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Common Pochards, Shovelers, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Common Sandpipers and Common Coots.
As we drove through the Corredor Verde and alongside the Río Guadiamar, we saw 3 Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, White Storks, Black-crowned Night Herons, Zitting Cisticolas, Spotted Flycatchers, Iberian Magpies, Red-legged Partridges, Whinchats, Stonechats, Crested Larks, Southern Grey Shrikes, Hoopoes, Corn Buntings, Serins, Yellow Wagtails, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.
We then visited the “reedbeds”, where we found 4 male Golden Bishops and several females. There were also a good number of Common Waxbills present. Also seen were Purple Swamp-hens, a Booted Eagle, an Osprey, Lapwings, Green Sandpipers and 3 Marbled Ducks.
A search of the ricefields in the Isla Mayor produced a Black Tern, Glossy Ibis, Ruff, Wood Sandpipers, Redshanks, Greenshanks and Black-tailed Godwits.
After a picnic lunch, the afternoon was spent in the Brazo del Este region. At the first site we visited we found several Squacco Herons, 2 Great White Egrets, a Short-toed Eagle and two more Ospreys. Elsewhere, we saw Ringed, Little-ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlins, 5 Little Stints, 8 Black Storks, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and both Black and Whiskered Terns.


19th September. With me today were Fraser and Ros McKintosh from Troon in Scotland. We began at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde. At the first lagoon we saw Grey Herons, Cattle Egrets, Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Tree Sparrows, Whinchats, Iberian Magpies, Great Tits, Crested Larks and Sardinian Warblers.
The second lagoon held Common Pochards, Shovelers, Great Crested Grebes, Little Egrets, Cormorants, Little-ringed Plovers, and Common Coots. Around the lagoon were Serins, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Hoopoes.
As we drove through the Corredor Verde we saw 4 Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Ravens, White and Black Storks, Black-crowned Night Herons, Zitting Cisticolas and Willow Warblers.
We then drove along side the turf farm, but apart from Yellow Wagtails, we did not see anything we had not already recorded.
The next stop was at the “reedbeds”, where there were at least 6 male Golden Bishops and many females, a good number of Common Waxbills, a few Reed Warblers, a female Hen Harrier and a Purple Swamp-hen.
In several wet ricefields in the Isla Mayor there were Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Ruff, Green and Wood Sandpipers and Black-tailed Godwits.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marsh areas, which although mostly dry, are still producing some good birding. At the Caño de Guadiamar there were 300+ Avocets and 100+ Spoonbills, along with Redshanks, Greenshanks, Lapwings and Kentish Plovers.
As we were leaving the marshes we saw a number of Griffon Vultures, a Short-toed Eagle and had excellent prolonged views of an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle as it soared above us.
16th September. Today, I was again guiding Steven and Julie Houston from Manchester. I collected the couple from their B&B accommodation in Villamanrique and headed out towards the Dehesa de Pilas, hoping to find some sandgrouse. On the way we saw Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies, Cattle Egrets, Common Buzzards and a Sardinian Warbler At the Dehesa, several sandgrouse were heard calling, we failed to spot any, so we drove alongside the turf farm, where we recorded Yellow Wagtails, Whinchats, Hoopoes, Northern Wheatears, Crested Larks, Little-ringed Plovers, Kestrels and 3 Black-shouldered Kites.
Our main destination for the day was the Brazo del Este, which meant driving through the Isla Mayor ricefields on the way to the ferry. En-route we saw hundreds of White Storks and good numbers of Glossy Ibis, Grey Herons, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Redshanks, Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers, and Black-crowned Night Herons. We also found another B-s Kite, Willow and Cetti’s Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas, Southern Grey Shrikes, Jackdaws, Iberian Chiffchaffs, Marsh Harriers and a Booted Eagle.
At the northern marsh area of the Brazo del Este we saw Spoonbills, Pintails, Shovelers, Teal, Greater Flamingos, Golden Bishops, Greenshanks, hundreds of Spanish Sparrows and a flock of at least 500 Glossy Ibis.
After lunch we visited the southern marshes of the area. Here, there were Black Kites, Black Storks, Avocets, 2 Great White Egrets, Ringed Plovers, Common Snipe, Little Stints, 2 Temminck’s Stints, Whiskered Terns, a Black Tern, Purple Swamp-hens , a Little Bittern, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins and many more Golden Bishops.
The highlight of the day was in the Brazo del Este. I had been scanning the mixed waders with my binoculars when I picked out a strange looking godwit that had its back towards me. I set up the telescope and immediately could see that it had the long, straight bill (very slightly downturned at the tip) of a black-tailed Godwit and the barred tail of a Bar-tailed. However, it also had orangey/pink legs. My first thought was Dowitcher, but which one? I called Steven and Julia to confirm all of the details I had noticed and at that time, the bird turned sideways on, revealing a white patch under the chin and barring on the flanks. This convinced me it was a Short-billed Dowitcher and both Steven and Julie (after long consultation over the field guide) agreed with the identity. The bird finally flew and we were able to confirm the flight details that were shown in the book, ie, a small speckled grey rump patch and tail, no wing bars and distinct pale legs.

15th September. With me today, on the first tour of my new birding season, were Barbara Vagliano from New York and Steven and Julie Houston from Manchester. We began by visiting the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde de Guadiamar. At the two lagoons we saw Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Shovelers, Common Pochards, Great Crested Grebes, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Moorhens and Coots. Flying above the lagoons were Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins. In the dry areas of the Corredor Verde we saw Marsh Harriers, a Black-shouldered Kite, Booted Eagles, Common and Honey Buzzards, Southern Grey Shrikes, Hoopoes, Turtle Doves, Jackdaws, Crested Larks, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Serins. Along the Rio Guadiamar there were hundreds of Black-crowned Night Herons and Cattle Egrets, a Cetti´s Warbler and a Willow Warbler.
We then drove between the Arroyo de las Cigüeñas and the turf farm and found White Storks, Yellow Wagtails, Ringed and Little-ringed Plovers and Whinchats.
We crossed the Entremuros and visited the ricefields of Isla Mayor and the site I call the "reedbeds". As I was driving into the "reedbeds", I stopped to allow Barbara to photograph a Marsh Harrier. Almost immediately, a small bird landed on the dirt track about 15 metres ahead of us. I quickly called the attention of the other three to it and we were treated to about two minutes of excellent views of an Avadavat. Once the bird finally flew, I continued to a favoured spot for some of Doñana’s other exotic species and within a few minutes were watching a beautiful male Golden Bishop in full breeding plumage, displaying and chasing any females that entered his breeding territory. Whist watching the antics of the weaver bird , a small flock of 8 Common Waxbills landed in the reeds nearby and began feeding. Altogether, we saw 3 male Golden Bishops, numerous females and about 25 waxbills. In the nearby ricefields we found about 200 Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwings, Common Snipe, Ruff and, surprisingly, a Mute Swan, which is a very rare bird in Doñana.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes, of which, the vast majority are dry, but it proved to be a good afternoon, especially for birds of prey. Near the Huerta Tejada, I spotted a distant raptor and drove further to get closer to it. It turned out to be a Red Kite and as we were watching it I became aware of another raptor quartering a field. As it came closer it proved to be a female Hen Harrier.

We then visited the Caño de Guadiamar and the Hato Raton ricefields. Near a seldom visited and little known pump house, we found 4 Black Storks, dozens of Greater Flamingos and Spoonbills, hundreds of Avocets and sizeable flocks of Corn Buntings, Calandra Larks and Greater Short-toed Larks.
Scanning the skies, I picked out a Spanish Imperial Eagle, about a kilometre away. We had good views for about a minute and then it went into a power dive from about 700 metres height and disappeared from view. From the same place we also saw a Short-toed Eagle and several more Booted Eagles.
Other birds seen included several Common Kestrels, Ravens, Northern Wheatears, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Little Grebes, a Purple Swamp-hen, Kentish Plovers, Green Sandpipers and Redshanks. As we were leaving the marshes, We rounded the day was rounded off nicely when a Great White Egret treated us to very good views.