Sunday 18 June 2023

The Spanish Tour for WINGS - Day 3 - 2nd May 2023

The fog had lifted by the time we arose the next morning but only a Whimbrel was there to greet us as we repacked the buses for the drive north. It was a quiet journey as we headed up to Bonanza with just Common Buzzard, Griffons, Booted Eagles and Raven noted before we arrived at the Salinas on the outskirts out town. 

Donana sits beyond the pans and you could see the boats u and down the river but the pans were shimmering and initially looked birdless but we soon started finding waders with over 100 Curlew Sandpipers making up the majority along with Dunlin, Sanderling, Little Stints, Red and Greenshanks, Turnstones and a single Ruff.


Little Terns patrolled and 15 Gull-billed Terns noisily circulated while a single Whiskered Tern was a good find here.  Slender-billed Gulls were the common species with a handful of Black-headeds amongst them while Spoonbill, Shelduck, Mallard and the first Night Herons and Great White Egrets being noted.

Slender-billed Gulls

Slender-billed Gull

Greater Flamingos

Black Kite

Stonechats, Sardinian Warblers, Iberian Blue Headed Wagtails and Crested Larks were all collecting food around the edges.  Down in the channels there were hundreds of Fiddler Crabs of various sizes and a quite a few of the very dark Tiger Beetles that you get here.  The Limoniastrum monopetalum was flowering well.

 Sardinian Warbler

 Sardinian Warbler

Iberian Blue Headed Wagtail

Afruca tangeri 

Cephalota maura 

Cephalota maura 

Cephalota maura 

 Limoniastrum monopetalum 

After managing to turn the vans around we headed back out to town for a drink stop before visiting the nearby Laguna de Tarelo.  This large deep lake was home to a fine colony of breeding Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills and a few Night Heron and the first Squacco of the trip was also seen.   A raft of 30 Little Grebe loafed out the back and scanning around produced a Purple Swamphen, eight White-headed Ducks, six Red-crested Pochard, 31 Pochards and a few common waders around the edges that included the first Little Ringed Plovers.

White-headed Ducks

White-headed Duck

Common Waxbills, Cetti’s Warblers, Serins and Reed Warblers were in the vegetation below us along with a magnificent Mediterranean Chamaeleon that John expertly found for us.  It watches us with goggle eyes as it weaved its way through the Tamarisks.

Mediterranean Chamaeleon

Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Common Swallowtail were also seen here before we headed back into town for some lunch which was superb and included deep fried Squidlets!

After lunch we visited two wonderful almost urban pools at the Lagunas del Camino Colorado. Between them we found another 25 White-headed Ducks, a pair of bonus Marbled Ducks, two broods plus ten adult Red-crested Pochards, a pair of Shoveler, two Swamphens with their preposterous legs and feet and a good selection of herony type things with croaking Night Herons, woofing Little Bitterns, a circling Squacco along with Coots and Moorhens but we could not find the single Red-knobbed Coot. 

and a Spoonbill

White-headed Duck & both Pochards

White-headed Duck

Red-crested Pochards and a Moorhen

Marbled Duck

Marbled Duck

White-headed Duck

White-headed Ducks

Purple Swamphen

A flock of Wood Pigeons went over and both Green Sandpiper and Greenshank were noted along with tree tettering Common Sandpipers.  There were Reed Warblers singing and a Western Olivaceous Warbler was grinding some way back while some smart Black-headed Weavers became our second established non-native passerine of the day.  Scarlet and Red Veined Darters, Black-tailed Skimmers and both Common and Lesser Emperors were on patrol.

Spanish Terrapin

Wood Pigeons

One last stop this side of the river with a visit to the Little Swift colony around the harbour at Chipiona and in the now blustery conditions we were treated to a mesmerising display of at least 80 as they manoeuvred easily in and out of the manmade obstructions.   I had not seen then since the Gambia and this was a real education of shape and feel in flight.  Several Common Swifts were hawking amongst them. 

Little Swift

Common Swift

With time (and some interesting parking) making our stop somewhat short we were soon on the way again and heading north up to Saville passing our first two male Montagu’s Harriers, Red-legged Partridges and Magpies on the way along with a several Ibis and random farmland Pratincoles!

We arrived in the early evening at our hotel in the time warp town of  El Rocio (passing many Iberian Magpies on the way in) which has wide sand roads, horse hitching posts, swing doors and the general feel of a lived in film set.  The hotel itself was very nice and overlooked a very large shallow lagoon that held a flock of 80 Greylags Geese (the Donana emblem), 40 Common Sandpipers, 30 Redshanks and our first Purple Heron.  There would undoubtedly be more in the morning.

 Freedom for Jim but not so lucky for Mike and Laura...

1 comment:

  1. Bit late in commenting, but I've been away. Ian Parsons reckons that the increase in exotic waders in the UK is linked to the drought and lack of water in places like Donana. (Birdwatching August issue), any comment?