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.
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.
|Iberian Blue Headed Wagtail
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.
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.
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
|and a Spoonbill
|White-headed Duck & both Pochards
|Red-crested Pochards and a Moorhen
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.
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
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
|Freedom for Jim but not so lucky for Mike and Laura...