So part 2 will be from the second part of our Trip Donana and Terifa. (Remember to click images for full view)
We left Extramadura at 4am arriving in Donana for first light. We were frustrated by the amount of fog when we arrived, couldn't see our hand in front of our faces!!!! This meant we were now going to lose half our birding day to the low mist. We started at the hides at El Acebron we could hear the calls of many Whisked Terns. We continued looking throughout the hides here but still being frustrated by the fog, spotting things like the Whisked Tern eventually, also Night Heron, Little and Great Egrets and eventually Spoonbill. We walked the drier parts of the reserve picking up our first Dartford Warblers.
Eventually the mist cleared and plenty of lizards were now sunning them selves, plenty of other common stuff too. Back in the hides we could now see Red Crested Pochard, a few Great Crested Grebes and another Woodchat shrike. Savis Warbler seemed everywhere. 3 Black Tern flew through the site. We checked out the whole site and all its hides.
Red Crested Pochard
Iberian Wall Lizard
It was now lunch time and we wanted to see how good the main lagoon was as we couldn't see it through the fog on the way past. We stopped at the screens and were mighty disappointed to see LOADS of Water and NO water birds.... Bugger!!!!! Whiskered Terns and Black winged Stilts was it. Trying to find waders was going to be tricky.
Black winged Stilt
We then quickly moved onto El Achebuche, this was a great reserve, here we picked up Azure winged Magpie in the Car park, Moorish Gecko, Melodious Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Hoopoe and a few Golden Oriole, but damn were they hard to see. An Iberian Chiffchaff sung its heart out.
A tour group leader spotted what he thought was a W Oliveacious warbler, not sure what he was looking at Keith just saw a Melodious Warbler, I missed it. (Views were all but brief apparently). Serins again were everywhere, cracking birds.
Azure Winged Magpie
Azure Winged Magpie
We covered the whole site but nothing new really sprung up but a Turtle dove a Spotted Flycatcher.
We then moved onto the coast to do a sea watch from Las matalascanas beach. Here we had a good few ticks, Audouins Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Arctic Skua and a few Gannets. We moved up the coast a little away from the touristy bit and watched till dark from a carpark right on the beach. From here it seemed much better, Kentish plover, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwits and a few other waders. More Arctic Skua a few Sandwich Terns and our star bird were 10 Storm Petrels all very distant and had the old grey matter working for the first couple going past.
By now it was dark and we wanted to find some Nightjars and Owls so nipped to a back road that Keith had picked up for being good. Good it Certainly was, on opening the windows 200 yards down the track we could hear Red Necked Nightjar so took a turn and almost drove over one.. Whoops.. So turned around and carried on along the main track picking up a few more and managing to photograph 1 in the headlights. Then we saw an owl sat on a road sign, Jesus that's a big Tawny Owl and when it flew it was MASSIVE, our second Eagle Owl Bingo!!!! We carried on till we got back to our digs at Hotel La Fonda in El Rocio, a very nice friendly place and well recommended. So we were glad to be back after being out from 4 am to nearly 12pm.. Quite a day.
Red necked Nightjar
Next morning it was a lie in till 7 heading today for the Jose Valverde Centre BUT again the bloody mist was down, another half day lost. We did manage to see a few good birds on our slow journey to the reserve. Quail were calling all over the place, Greater Short Toed Lark were common and just a couple of Lesser Short Toed Larks were ticks for the trip, a shed load of Kestrels on a telephone line, probably a mix of Lesser and Common, mist made it impossible to check. A few other bits n bobs too. We arrived at the main reserve to see great numbers of Egrets. These were all nesting, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Night Heron and a Couple of breeding Squacco herons. Our first Flamingos too woohoo, we had missed these seeing as they weren't on the main lagoon. A Great Reed Warbler showed well. Unfortunately the hide was made of Glass so a mixture of Fog and glass made photography difficult. We continued on following the dirt tracks away from the Centre. The dyke's held our first Green Sandpipers, ducks and Terns were on the wetlands, including 3 more Black Terns, hundreds more Flamingos, plenty of Black Winged Stilts and our first and only Black-necked Grebes..x2
Lesser Short toed Lark (fog)
Greater Short Toed Lark
Great Reed Warbler
We stopped someway along the track picking up a flocks of Gull Billed Terns, Spoonbills, more Egrets and we were very exciting to spot 3 Collared Pratincoles going over head. We continued through the Donana national park along some very sandy tracks, but picking up some good but common birds like Spanish Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Blackcap Garden Warbler,Woodlark and Southern Grey Shrike, we had a good look around for Rufous tailed robin but it was still a week too early. We returned to base at a reasonable 8pm and went for a hearty supper.
Southern Grey Shrike
Today it was up early again for our run to Barbate, through the Brazo del este and the Bonanza Saltpans to the great Terifa looking for Terns and Raptors.
We birded on the way and arrived at the amazing Brazo del este a sandy track along a canal and arable field, here we picked up male and female Black headed weaver, 100s of Collared Pratincoles were brilliant and quite a surprise, a few Little Bittern, a Squacco heron and a couple of shy Stone Curlews.
Black Headed Weaver
We moved along to the Saltpans of Bonanza on the East Bank of the Lower Guadalquivir where we picked up loads of good birds, waders such as Avocet, Little Stint, Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Sanderling. From the Laguna De Tarelo we picked up our very first White headed Ducks brill, but the bird of the day so far were 6 Slender Billed Gulls a lifer for me Woohoo, unfortunately there was way too much haze and too distant to photograph. We moved onto some more saltpans the Salinas de Monte Algaida and a nice small bit of tree plantation for a good chance to look for some warblers.
Our first bird here were Flamingos and then a pale phase Booted Eagle dropped in front of us catching a rabbit. Then a second bird trying to nick it, but dropping it then leaving it.
Male White Headed Duck
Female White Headed Duck
We had a really really good ratch around the trees here picking up probably 20+ Garden warbler, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers a few Pied Flys, and some Yellow Wagtail. Then we found some really good birds such as our first Wryneck YES!, 2 or 3 Subalpine Warblers and 1 unidentified Warbler, couldn’t find it after a quick look at it. We then Picked out our first Caspian Tern flying past but distant. We did pick up Tawny Pipit on the track. We didn’t want to leave but had to continue up the coast to our digs for tonight the amazingly situated Meson De Sancha. A great place to stop and relax.
Meson De Sancha
Iberian Yellow Wagtail
Today was a day in and around Tarifa before heading back to our digs at El rocio. We had a late start 8am we just chilled on our Balcony watching the clouds roll in and listening to the birds, Firecrest, Warblers and the Great Spotted Woodpecker.
On our way back down the mountain we stopped at a raptor watchpoint we gave it half hour here just to see if there was anything moving, the cloud was low making visibility poor but we did get Short toed Eagle and Black Kite. It was otherwise quiet so moved down the beach and a good spot called Playa de los Lances. Here we had really nice views of our first Mediterraenean Gull, Audoins gulls young and old, Yellow legged gulls, Little and Sandwich Terns Sanderling and Kentish Plover. A Flock of 100 Corys Shearwater was great to see, we then managed to pick up 3 Balearic Shearwaters mixed in, tiny in comparison.
1st Winter Med Gull
We moved up onto the mountain De La Cueva Del Moro to look for Little Swift, on the way up we had great views of a male and female Black eared Wheatear, Stonechats and a lifer Spectacled Warbler. Keith Spotted a Green Woodpecker. Another Subalpine Warbler was good. Up at the swift site a few raptors came over such as Hobby, Marsh Harrier and Black Kites. A Griffon Vulture showed closely. A Spectacled warbler was singing its heart out but no Little Swift.
View from De la Cueva Del Moro
Old Little Swift and White Rumped Swift Cave
We headed back down the mountain and caught the masses of Black Kite coming in off the sea, 200 in one group with smaller numbers of Booted and Short toed eagles so we watched this scene back at the screen from Playa de Los Lances .Our Next lifer was here too a cracking Lesser Crested Tern, second time of asking... that will do!!!.
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
We then headed back to Donana stopping at various places on the way including the nest site of the amazing Northern Bald Ibis, great but ugly looking things. This made my day certainly...
Northern Bald Ibis
Northern Bald Ibis
Northern Bald Ibis
We Stubled upon another marsh in Donana, it was a great spot as it had a few Red-Knobbled Coots and keith counted a stagering 80 Black Kites sat on thye back fence. Good numbers of Flamingo too.
Red knobbled Coots
Back at El Rocio we had a wander around the town taking it a bit more easily ready for our final short day to Portugal and our flight home the next morning.
Our last day so up we were up early again checking the Nightjar road but nothing today, so in arriving in Portugal we had a wander around the marshes which weren’t easy to view, but we did pick up a few waders and eventually our second Caspian Tern.
Then it was back on the plane and away home boo. what an amazing week and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip. Notching up and incredible 214 Species... Full list here.......http://craigshawsbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/spains-april-2013-trip-list.html
and if you missed Part 1 of my Spain trip here it is.. http://craigshawsbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/spain-part-1.html