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Iberian Birding Trip to Faro, Portugal and Coto Doņana, Spain, 12th December - 15th December 2004,
Participants: David Arch, Michael East, Roy Goodacre, Tony Moverley, Stephen Patmore and David Sampson.
Six people who happen to belong to Bishop's Stortford Bird Group flew on a private trip from Stansted Airport to Faro early morning on Sunday 12th December 2004 with Easyjet and back home as planned on the following Wednesday.
We had an excellent trip and saw just a couple of species shy of 150 birds in those short winter days. Most of us had not been to any of the sites before. On Monday we had booked John Butler to guide us. Our 13th December activities recorded here mirror the report on his website (http://www.donanabirdtours.com/). We plan a return trip in four months time to see the differences that spring and the breeding season will bring.
We drove about 300km and John Butler drove us about 125km. By the way, there is no map quite like the UK's Ordnance Survey. We saw nearly 30 species on Sunday that we did not see on Monday when we had about 100. And we found 20 more species on Tuesday. We did not find Spanish Imperial Eagle or Spanish Sparrow or White-headed Duck. We did not discover a winter Nightjar but had an amateur churring cicada mimic instead.
Next time we will be a little wiser about at least these four things. We lost an hour finding the representative of Algarve Autos because we believed their website. He was waiting for us at the car hire flags in the reception hall all along. We were upgraded to Fiat Puntos but if we were to go off road ourselves this might not be the right choice. We were fortunate to stay for two nights at a property with all mod cons recommended and arranged by John Butler that also happened to have oranges ready to eat on trees in the garden. We could not find places for breakfast at the time we wanted and had not bought in supplies. Monday evening and the local restaurants open on Sunday were not going to open again and the petrol stations were by then on night cashier only. But they were good oranges. We let our guard drop about keeping to the speed limit on one occasion driving in Spain on Portuguese plates. We found we were often away from places where the people spoke English. We were willing but not able to speak their language and this probably lost us a bit of the icing on the cake.
Before turning to the bird side of the trip we don't want to be trite or responsible for recommending things but were pleased with Easyjet (http://www.easyjet.com/), with Doņana Bird Tours, with Algarve Autos (http://www.autoalgarve.com/) and the Monaco Hotel (www.hotelmonaco.pt) in Montenegro for the night before flying home.
We were pleased with the weather as well. The forecast had been for us to be there on the only three wet days for ages. Only a few drops came. Sunday was a bit blustery but the day temperatures reached the average of 17 shown on the charts. We have produced a separate species list (see end). This report does not try to repeat that species list but threads together the birds seen with our itinerary and our thoughts and surprises.
Sunday 12th December 2004
Our list for 12th December started before we landed. Gannets from the plane. Then larks. Crested Larks at the airport and Thekla Larks at the beach at Quinta do Lago, one of Europe's most luxurious resorts, where we spent the afternoon and the cars were watched by security staff. Our picnics were brought from home. As we walked from the car park at the end of the road towards the sand we saw Red-rumped Swallow among the hirundines. Good, we had not flown for two and a half hours and stayed in the same habitat. We saved the walk across the lagoon via an impressive wooden footbridge to the beach and a sea watch until after we had been to the Roman remains and back.
Here the boards all had Portuguese and English texts. In the areas we went to the birding leaflets all did this for which we were grateful.
Before we reached the bird hide, elevated and small looking out across fresh water to more of the golf course, on our left hand side we had tidal salt water on our right. Our plane had flown over this on its way to the airport and others were doing the same thing above our heads. Lesser Kestrels were identified. On the salt side we found Kentish Plover straight away. Turnstone and Dunlin and Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit were more familiar waders. Little Stint and Temminck's Stint also found. Cetti's Warblers called but we thought there might have been more. Sardinian Warbler was in the red flowers.
On the return walk we had Chiffchaffs with red throats from feeding on the same flowers:. Chiffchaffs were constantly everywhere. They seemed to be resident but we did not get to grips with any id for the Iberian possibilities. Another new bird that appeared straight away was the Iberian or Azure-winged Magpie. Until we reached El Rocio we had only seen one Common or Black billed Magpie. From then on our route gave us no more of this local bird and we were back to normal service.
Next up were Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint and Whimbrel. Plenty of Goldfinch. Stonechat started to be seen and this was another bird plentiful throughout. As we approached the water what might have been a Barn Owl but it was the middle of the day was being blown about. It was not an Egret. It was our first Squacco Heron of the trip. It landed in such a small area of reed on the golf course side. We did not see it again. But our first Purple Gallinule or Purple Swamp-hen chose that moment to emerge from the reeds and go grazing on the fairway with Common Coots and Moorhen. No walking round there then past such a gigantic bird just to see if the heron would flush.
Plenty of Shoveler. Water Pipit and Chiffchaff and White Wagtail were feeding on what looked like red weed stems covering the surface. Little Grebe and a few Black-necked Grebe and some Pintail. Our only Tufted Duck and a few Pochard. Plenty of Little Egret. All the black and white wagtails were of the White variety and they were common. One Grey Wagtail. Plenty of House Sparrows and a few Hedge Sparrows (Dunnocks) that, like Meadow Pipits, Robins and Blackbirds kept appearing throughout. The alarm of one Blackbird was more like 'teacher teacher' than anything at home so what it was alarmed by we are still not sure. Maybe a dialect if not a language of its own. Hoopoe started to come into focus on the fairways.
One bird seemed to be an Indian Silverbill. We were beginning to be used to the Stone Pines and the Eucalyptus Trees. But not gay yellow flowers from what looked like shamrocks?
Our turn round point was at the Roman remains. Some people out strolling had told us White Stork would be viewable from there. Correct. And lots of Grey Heron and a possible Great Bittern in flight. Our first Greater Flamingos of this trip. Wigeon doing what Wigeon do on grass in winter. One Avocet. Redshank and Snipe. Various harriers and other winged predators started to be listed from distant views.
When we did cross the wooden bridge that shows on the leaflets it was getting a bit cooler and the wind was coming up a bit more and there were white horses rather than bathing or paddling opportunities. Bonxies straight away. Quite a few Gannets.
Mediterranean Gulls going east. Oystercatchers. One female Common Scoter. Distant shearwaters.
Our timetable meant we had to say farewell to Quinta do Lago and Portugal and make our way to Spain via the motorways and the bridge at Castro Marim. This was an opportunity for a more sustained list of birds seen by the roads, on the verges and in the adjacent fields and on the local houses and chimney pots. White Stork was first. And it was also a White Stork that greeted us in the floodlights by flying round above the village square at our next stop at Villamanrique de la Condesa.
Monday 13th December 2004
The day dawned after eight o'clock with a bit of birding round the house .. you know the sort of thing .. Black Redstart, Serin and Hoopoe and with more and more House Sparrows in next door's palm tree .. before we were driven off in John Butler's Citroen Expert to see what could be found. The Doņana was first set up in 1969 (Dona Ana de Mendoza y Silva died in 1610) and is one of those European places all birdwatchers should visit while they have breath in their bodies. Some of the whys and the wherefores of this is given below:
The first site we visited was (outside) the brewery at Villamanrique. A small White Stork colony was established in trees in the field opposite. Next was a forested barbeque area for which we had already gone off road. This gave us a few minutes to digest Iberian Magpie, well, watch the birds, and understand how they may or may not have the same DNA as identical birds found in China. Lagunas de Mancho Zurilla showed us cork oak and on the bird front Crested Lark and Woodlark in the fields opposite where the locals went hunting and kept bulls. Hunting, Bullfighting and Flamenco are pillar of the local society. Just a little further was an area for annual (May) pilgrimage and a demonstration that religion might be the fourth pillar. This dated back to the arrival of the Moors in 711AD. On the lagoons themselves, or on trees in the lagoons, were Osprey, Cormorant and Green Sandpiper. After the religious river the track took us back to the lagoon from a different direction and we added the Booted Eagle, pale morph, resting in a tree behind a vertical twig.
14 Red-legged Partridges were in plough and we also had Southern Grey Shrike and Tree Pipit as we moved into the area known as the Corredor Verde following a dangerous river pollution in 1998 that left the land useless for agriculture. Tamarisk was pointed out to us as likely cover for Night Heron.
Tamarisk at the Entremuros proved this and again at the heron ponds later. Black Kite and Red Kite were added. Cattle Egret in substantial numbers were following a plough. Rice fields and cotton fields on the right hand side. And then came the call for Black-winged Kite. Two. Exquisite. Hovering. Star birds.
After the Entremuros it was onto the Isla Mayor rice fields. Many more Purple Swamp-hens than on Sunday. We don't know how many Squacco Herons were flying round. Kingfishers. Three Black Stork as well as White Stork and Snipe and Marsh Harriers as well as Buzzards. Large flights of Common Crane were seen in the distance, different to the 600 or so seen around the Entremuros. A Penduline Tit was heard and a Dartford Warbler flushed.
Before lunch at the Casa de la Dehesa de Abajo, a hunting lodge soon to be developed as another visitor centre, we scanned the Caņada de Rianzuela. Apparently it can be even fuller of birds than it was when we were there. Shoveler, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet were in strong numbers. Smaller numbers of Lapwing were present. We overlooked this lagoon while most of us ate our excellent pastie, Spanish Omelette etc beer or soft drink lunch. The Stone Pine forest here was home in the breeding season to major numbers of White Stork. Boardwalks and fencing tried to keep visitors out of their areas but it all seemed very open. A Blackcap search concluded with the mystery song from France earlier in the year being heard again (see separate report entitled 'The Camargue, Les Alpilles and Le Crau, March 2004' http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=465). Then, commotion on the water. The thousands of Sammy look-alikes were taking communal action to distract two Peregrine Falcons that also fancied their lunch.
We continued on to the Heron Ponds and saw and photographed the Night Herons. A little farther along was an elusive male Blue Rock Thrush and a noisy group of about twenty Common Waxbills.
The afternoon was spent as far south as we were able to go - at the northern marshes (!) and looking south to the Coto Doņana national reserve itself. On the way to the visitor centre José Antonio Valverde we passed yet more wetlands with seemingly vast numbers of Greater Flamingo, many Common Cranes and two separate Great White Egrets with a third after the centre. We were shown Stone Curlew and Calandra Lark. This centre will be alive with world important numbers of breeding birds and another visit then is imperative. We had Common Coot and Common Snipe and Crested Lark and mating Kestrels but the list of breeding bird species and the numbers of pairs fair took our breath away.
Taking our leave of the centre we were shown an abandoned building marking both a territory of Short-toed Eagle and the home of a Barn Owl. Unlike the haunts of Little Owl that had let us down earlier in the day this regular was at home. And the Eagle was there proudly, and joined on the wires and posts by Common Buzzard, more Kestrels and Spotless Starlings. Quite a day. All that was anticipated and then some.
Tuesday 14th December 2004
Our last full day dawned with more birdwatching at the house and then some a little further away in the local Stone Pine woods (the Hinijos Forest). This was another forested barbeque area with no undergrowth in the most used area. From the signposting it seemed to be the northernmost part of the extensive Marismas de Hinijos. Crested Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper were the main targets. Short glimpses yes, but better specimens were found later at roadside stops.
Our road from Hinijos was parallel to a more southerly route from Villamanrique to El Rocio. We stopped in the stone pinewoods to be sure of a more classic Crested Tit and stopped again at a river crossing by one of a series of fine houses on the left side. A couple of Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails here. On the right hand side were smallholdings with prickly pear fences and wood stacked for charcoal burning.
To the south of El Rocio is one of the five visitor centres for the park. At La Rocina we went into one of the hides and saw movement of Glossy Ibis down to the marshes we had driven by. Prominent Black Redstart and Short-toed Treecreeper together with signs for people not to dump their terrapins or other acuatic (sic) animals in the park. There was an interesting house dating from about 1,750AD. While one car was digesting that and tins of Coke the other car was away and being overflown by a Great Spotted Cuckoo. Although they got it to stop in a tree for a whole minute it had made its excuses and left before the other car caught up.
Until the main road had been improved, every road had been improved but we saw no road building, there must have been a famous bridge to watch the birds on the marsh from. "You must go to the bridge at El Rocio" is now only a nostalgic whim. Now the water crossing was by way of an unforgiving "legged" highway. Nothing to say you could not set up a tripod in the cycle lane but the field we used was much preferable. And it had an obliging Zitting Cisticola and close views of Egret, Ibis, Stilts, Avocet, Flamingo, Grey Heron, and Squacco Heron etc etc and also horses. Across the water was the real basilica as shown in paintings in the old house. Even more of interest was a tiny dot in a tree across the whole water. Could this have been the Lesser Spotted Eagle reported regularly from this area?
Next stop, the visitor centre at El Acebuche. Another hide. No birds. Outside, amongst ironwork and art work and demonstrations of charcoal burning was a Dartford Warbler and more Black Redstart. Some preferred tortillas and coffee. And some a beer. Two years to upgrade the centre's buildings and toilet block and washing area. Well done. And there still was a White Stork nest on the chimney and attendant sparrows.
We resisted going to the coast at Matalascanas and stopping on the road north approaching Huelva at some likely lagoons. Plenty of chemicals works here but also a Booted Eagle. On around the town's ring road and bridge across to the land to the west, which was a bit like Spurn Head. Although it was a salt making area it tapered to the south and was already only a causeway. But much access for fishermen, and fishermen like those at some lakes in Hertfordshire who do not take their mess home with them. Our target for the afternoon was to visit the Odiel Marshes and three species if we could find them.
At the Calatilla visitor centre they were closing for the afternoon siesta but we just had time to see a collared Red-knobbed Coot, Redshank, Greenshank, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Whimbrel, Black-necked Grebe and three Ospreys flying and in one case fishing successfully on the river. So, one species found. Tucked away in its own secure little pond; prominently marked for its own safety.
Before we got to the beach area - the sequence was visitor centre, salinas, marsh, then marsh on second island and then beach and causeway - there were many places that might have held duck but none did so. We did notice that Common Magpies were back in charge of that part of the bird world. There was female Gadwall that got some attention and two flights of Avocet. On the second island there were Greylag Geese, Marsh Harrier, Crested Lark and then nine Spoonbill.
And then at the beach there were many thousands of seagulls. Was there just one species? They did keep flying from the beach to the sea and back again. Which drew attention to the local boats that were trawling for sardines, which in turn brought to mind one saying of a French footballer. Anyway, keeping to themselves on the Espignon amongst all of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls was a group of Audouin's Gull. A little previous knowledge does come in handy. Target achieved.
Home, at least to Montenegro for the night. Write it all up. Plan the next one. Relive the highlights. Anyone for another Irish coffee?
(1) Little Grebe
Very numerous in all wetland areas visited; peak counts of 50+ at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 50+ at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12, 50+ from the bridge at El Rocio on 14/12, 20 on pools at El Acebuche 14/12 and 50+ in the Odiel Marshes area west of Huelva also on 14/12.
(2) Great Crested Grebe
Only recorded at Quinta do Lago near Faro on 12/12 when up to ten were present on the estuary.
(3) Red-necked Grebe
A winter-adult showed well but briefly on the lagoon opposite the Calatilla centre at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(4) Black-necked Grebe
Two were on the lagoon at Quinta da Lago on 12/12, two more were at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12 and up to 60 were recorded in the Odiel Marshes area, some in the old Salinas, on 14/12.
(5) Northern Gannet
Two were noted over the sea from the plane at Faro Airport on 12/12! Subsequently, 35+ were noted off Quinta do Lago in a short sea-watch on 12/12, and one flew past the Espignon at Odiel on the 14/12.
(6) Great Cormorant
Numerous in most wetland habitats
(7) Great Bittern
A probable was seen flying over salting at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(8) Cattle Egret
The most numerous egret of the trip, the first involved two over-flying the road between Portugal and Spain on the evening of 12/12. The second was at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12. Thereafter, very numerous with 160 by the Corredor Verde, following a plough, 27 at the Entremuros and 150 on the return journey through the northern marshes (all on 13/12) being peak counts.
(9) Little Egret
Very numerous, 50 at the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 and 100+ at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12 being the highest individual counts.
(10) Great White Egret
On the 13/12 there were two together at the Entremuros, with a third individual by the roadside near the José Antonio Valverde Centre in the northern marshes at the southernmost point of our guided tour.
(11) Squacco Heron
One was flying in a blustery wind at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, seven were in ditches near the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 with singles over the 'Heron Ponds' and at the Entremuros the same day, and one showed exceptionally well at the marsh at El Rocio on 14/12.
(12) Black-crowned Night Heron
Only recorded on the 13/12 when 15 were roosting in sallows adjacent to the Entremuros, 25 were roosting at the 'Heron Ponds' . A single immature was noted by the "7 kestrels" pumping station in the Northern Marshes.
(13) Grey Heron
Very numerous in all areas visited with 20+ at both Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and El Rocio on 14/12 being the highest counts made.
(14) White Stork
Very numerous. The first being 17 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, followed by two from the road on the way to Spain and one flying in the floodlighting of the market square in the centre of Villamanrique in the evening of the same day. On 13/12 there were three at a nest site close to the brewery at Villamanrique de la Condesa. None were at the major nesting area at Caņada de Rianzuela. Three were noted at the Isla Mayor rice-fields, six over the 'Heron Ponds', a peak of 220 at the Entremuros and three at the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre. The 14/12 produced five at El Rocio and 36 in the Odiel Marshes area.
(15) Black Stork
On the 13/12 there were up to five around the Isla Mayor rice fields, whilst nearby two were seen to the East of the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre.
(16) Eurasian Spoonbill
None was recorded until a group of nine was at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12, with two further immatures on the salt pans to the north.
(17) Glossy Ibis
A group of 25 were circling over the hides at El Rocio on 14/12 probably on their way to be part of at least 150 feeding on the marshes by the bridge nearby.
(18) Greater Flamingo
Very numerous with some large flocks noted: eight at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 300 at the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 with 100 at Caņada de Rianzuela, 1500 at the Cano de Rosaliman and 100 at the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre on the same day. The 14/12 produced 500 at El Rocio and 100 in the Odiel Marshes area.
(19) Greylag Goose
This is the bird shown on the Coto Doņana signs. The first birds seen were 20 at the Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12. Later the same day there were 300 at the Entremuros and 100 at the Cano de Rosaliman.
(20) Eurasian Wigeon
Only noted in numbers at the Quinta do Lago where over 1000 graced the estuary on 12/12.
Peak counts were of 100 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 200 at the Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(22) Common Teal
Noted at many wetland sites with a peak of 500 at El Rocio on 14/12
Numerous in wetland areas
(24) Northern Pintail
Only seen in numbers at El Rocio where 100+ were present on 14/12, otherwise a female on the lagoon at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and two drakes at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12 were the only other records.
(25) Northern Shoveler
By far the most numerous dabbling duck recorded with large numbers at all the major wetlands. Peak counts being 100 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 1000+ at both the Caņada de Rianzuela and the Cano de Rosaliman on 13/12 and 500 at El Rocio on 14/12.
(26) Northern Pochard
Noted in only very small numbers with just five at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and three at El Acebuche on 14/12
(27) Tufted Duck
Three at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 were the only ones recorded during the entire trip.
(28) Common Scoter
A single female was riding the surf off Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(29) Short-toed Eagle
One was seen extremely well in the northern marshes, east of the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre on 13/12.
(30) Red Kite
The first was a single at Quinta do Lago on 12/12; thereafter one was at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12 with up to five at Caņada de Rianzuela and one at the 'Heron Ponds' on the same day. Three were at El Rocio and two were along the road between there and El Acebuche on 14/12.
(31) Black Kite
Two were noted on the road into Spain on 12/12 and up to five were along the Corredor Verde on 13/12.
(32) Black-shouldered Kite
Two showed incredibly well at the Corredor Verde on 13/12 and later that day another (or feasibly, the same) pair was present on wires near the northern marshes. 33)
(33) Marsh Harrier
Extremely numerous! A female was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, on 13/12 an incredible total of 116 individuals were logged through the Northern Marshes area and on 14/12 there were four at El Rocio and three at the Odiel Marshes.
(34) Hen Harrier
A male was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, three males were at the Cano de Rosaliman on 13/12 when there were also at least seven ringtails in the Entremuros area.
(35) Common Buzzard
Very numerous in the northern marshes and Corredor Verde area with at least 45 individuals noted on the 13/12, whilst three were at El Rocio on 14/12.
(36) Lesser Spotted Eagle
Possible at El Rocio viewpoint on 14/12.
(37) Booted Eagle
On 13/12, two pale-morphs were noted at Corredor Verde and two further pale-morphs were near the 'Heron Ponds'. On 14/12, a single pale-morph flew low over the road between Mazignon and Huelva.
One was perched in a tree at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12 with two at the 'Heron Ponds' the same day, whilst three were fishing the river by the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(39) Common Kestrel
Very numerous throughout the area, at least 85 individuals being recorded in the northern marshes area on the 13/12 alone.
(40) Lesser Kestrel
Up to three was hunting over the woods at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(41) Peregrine Falcon
Two were seen in a spectacular fashion as they chased Black-winged Stilts at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12, and a third individual was in the northern marshes later the same day.
(42) Red-legged Partridge
A covey of 25 were at the Corredor Verde on 13/12 and one was calling at El Acebuche on 14/12.
(43) Purple Gallinule
There were eight at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 whilst on 13/12 there were 130 at the Isla Mayor rice fields, 80 at Entremuros and two at the Jose Antonio Valverde centre.
(44) Common Moorhen
Very numerous throughout wetland areas
(45) Red-knobbed Coot
One displaying an extremely fashionable white neck collar was on a small pond near the visitor centre at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(46) Common Coot
Many large flocks were present throughout the wetland areas of the Doņana and elsewhere, with maximum counts of 1000 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 500 at El Rocio on 14/12.
(47) Common Crane
At least 600 were in fields around the Entremuros on 13/12.
Singles were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(49) Black-winged Stilt
Several spectacularly large flocks were noted, the best being at least 1000 at the Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12 and 1500 at El Rocio on 14/12. Elsewhere, one was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 13 were at the 'Heron Ponds' and 100 were at Cano de Rosaliman on 13/12 and 100 were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
A flock of at least 1000 were at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12, although the only others noted were one at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and two at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(51) Stone Curlew
At least 37 were roosting in fields near the Cano de Rosaliman on 13/12.
(52) Common Ringed Plover
Two were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and two were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(53) Kentish Plover
On 12/12 there were up to seven at Quinta do Lago, whilst a pair were on the beach at the Espignon on 14/12.
(54) Grey Plover
Flocks of 30+ were present at both Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(55) Northern Lapwing
A few small flocks were noted: 30 at the Corredor Verde and 100 at the Isla Mayor rice-fields on 13/112
Two were with the Calidris flock at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and a large flock of 150 were on the beach at the Espignon on 14/12.
(57) Little Stint
Up to 20 were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 50+ were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(58) Temminck's Stint
An unseasonable individual was with Little Stints and Dunlin at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
Surprisingly few recorded with just 50 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 300+ at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(60) Common Snipe
There were six at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, eight at the Isla Mayor rice fields and eight at the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre on 13/12.
(61) Bar-tailed Godwit
Two were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(62) Black-tailed Godwit
There were nine at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 100 at Cano de Rosaliman on 13/12, 100 at El Rocio and 250 at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
At least five were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, one was at the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 and three were at Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
Very few recorded; three at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, several at the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 and five at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
Three were in the rice fields at Isla Mayor on 13/12 and up to five were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(66) Spotted Redshank
At least four were on roadside pools at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(67) Common Redshank
There were four at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 50 at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(68) Green Sandpiper
On 13/12 there was one was at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, one at the Isla Mayor rice fields, two at Caņada de Rianzuela, five at Entremuros and two at the Cano de Rosaliman. On 14/12, a single was at El Rocio.
(69) Common Sandpiper
At least two were feeding around the scrapes at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
There were 15 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and one at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(71) Arctic Skua
Two dark-phase individuals were off Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and one flew past the Espignon on 14/12.
(72) Great Skua (Bonxie)
Up to five were lingering off Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(73) Mediterranean Gull
Five (three adults, one second winter & one first winter) flew East past Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(74) Black-headed Gull
Large numbers noted throughout the area, the peak count being 500 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(75) Audouin's Gull
At least 43 (41 adults, two second winters) were noted at the Espignon to South of the Odiel Marshes amongst a massive 5000-strong Lesser Black Backed Gull flock on the 14/12.
(76) Yellow-legged Gull
Large numbers noted throughout the area, the peak count being 500 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(77) Lesser Black-backed Gull
Large numbers in all areas, with 1000 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and up to 5000 present along the coast at the Espignon and Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(78) Great Black-backed Gull
A few (mostly single) individuals were noted on the coast.
(79) Sandwich Tern
Five were at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and at least seven were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(80) Feral Rock Dove
Several small flocks noted in both Portugal and Spain.
Recorded on just one occasion during the entire trip, a group of eight near El Rocio on 14/12. Maybe the local hunters were better shots than we realised.
(82) Collared Dove
Small numbers were seen in many residential/wooded areas but no large flocks of any note.
(83) Great Spotted Cuckoo
An adult flew over the entrance to the Visitor centre at El Rocio on 14/12, settling in a dead tree for a minute before flying off.
(84) Barn Owl
One was seen at roost in an abandoned building on the edge of the northern marshes on 13/12 close to the site where the Short-toed Eagle was seen.
(85) Tawny Owl
A single was calling on the nights of 12/12 and 13/12 at Hinijos.
(86) Common Kingfisher
Up to five were at the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 when one was also noted at the 'Heron Ponds'. On the 14/12 there were two at a bridge between Hinijos and El Rocio and one was at the Odiel Marshes.
Three were present around the Golf Course at Quinta do Lago on 12/12; three were at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12 when singles were also at Caņada de Rianzuela and in the Casa Doņana garden at Hinijos. On 14/12 there were singles at El Rocio and behind the visitor centre at El Acebuche.
(88) Green Woodpecker (Iberian race Sharpei)
One was seen briefly near Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12 and one was in the woods at Hinijos early on the morning of 14/12.
(89) Calandra Lark
Four large flocks were noted: 200 near the Cano de Rosaliman and 250 near the Jose Antonio Valverde centre on 13/12 and 100 in a field between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
Up to 25 were at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12, with a further 25 at the Corredor Verde the same day. On 14/12, six were noted between Hinijos and El Rocio.
The only flock of any note was 50+ at the Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(92) Crested Lark
At least one was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12. Very common in the Doņana with records including 10+ at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, 10+ at Caņada de Rianzuela, five near the Cano de Rosaliman, five in the car park at the Jose Antonio Valverde centre and 50+ in fields to the east of there on 13/12. On 14/12 there were 10+ between Hinijos and El Rocio, two at El Rocio, six near Mazignon and two at Odiel Marsh.
(93) Thekla Lark
Up to six were around the sandy tracks and golf course at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(94) Sand Martin
Two were amongst the large hirundine flock over Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(95) Barn Swallow
Two were at Quinta do Lago on 13/12 and up to 50 were at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(96) Red-rumped Swallow
A party of three individuals briefly lingered over the golf course at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(97) House Martin
Two flocks were noted; 30+ at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and 150+ at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(98) Meadow Pipit
Extremely numerous around the entire Doņana, the largest flock consisted of 60+ at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12.
(99) Tree Pipit
One was at the Corredor Verde on 13/12.
(100) Water Pipit
Two were feeding on floating flotsam by the hide at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.
(101) Grey Wagtail
One was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, and two flew over the road between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(102) White Wagtail
Very numerous throughout the area with a peak of 30 at Quinta do Lago on the golf course on 12/12
(103) Winter Wren
Recorded in small numbers throughout the area.
Recorded in small numbers throughout the area.
(106) Black Redstart
Very numerous! A male and two females were at Hinijos on 13/12 when three were at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, singles were at the 'Heron Ponds', Caņada de Rianzuela and the Entremuros, two were near the pumping station and two were in the car park at Jose Antonio Valverde centre. On the 14/12, two males were at Hinijos, five were at El Rocio, seven were at El Acebuche, two were near Huelva and two were at the Odiel Marshes. On the 15/12, one was at the Hotel Monaco at Montenegro.
(107) Common Stonechat
Exceptionally common throughout the area, evidence being provided by the presence of at least 56 individuals in the northern marshes of the Doņana on the afternoon of 13/12
Two were at the Odiel Marshes on 14/12.
(109) Blue Rock Thrush
A male was seen briefly on three occasions around a rubble pile near the 'Heron Ponds' on 13/12.
Small numbers were seen in most vegetated areas but could not be described as common, maximum of eight at Quinta do Lago on 12/12. The alarm call was unlike that of birds usually heard in England, but then this may have been in response to predators only seen on Mediterranean coasts.
(111) Song Thrush
Individuals and small groups noted throughout the area.
Three flew over the road to Spain on the evening of 12/12.
(113) Mistle Thrush
Two were in scrub near Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12.
(114) Zitting Cisticola
Two were calling in ditches at the Isla Mayor and two were seen near Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12 and three were at El Rocio (including one very obliging individual) and two were at Odiel Marsh on 14/12.
(115) Cetti's Warbler
Surprisingly not very numerous, singles at Quinta do Lago on 12/12 and between Hinijos and El Rocio and at the El Rocio centre on 14/12.
(116) Sardinian Warbler
Records included 15 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12. Two in gardens at Hinijos, five at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, three at the Corredor Verde and two at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12 and two at Hinijos, two between Hinijos and El Rocio, two at El Rocio and one at El Acebuche on 14/12.
(117) Dartford Warbler
One was flushed at the reedbeds by the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12 but a single male was noted in low scrub behind the visitor centre at El Acebuche on 14/12.
There were up to ten at Caņada de Rianzuela and two at the 'Heron Ponds' on 13/12 and three between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(119) Common Chiffchaff
These birds appeared to be resident.
Up to five were in woods at Hinijos on 14/12.
Three were in woods at Hinijos on 14/12.
(122) Crested Tit
Two were in woods at Hinijos on 14/12 and two were showing in scrub between Hinijos and El Rocio the same day.
(123) Coal Tit
One was calling in the woods at Hinijos on 14/12.
(124) Blue Tit
Amazingly the only one of the whole trip was a single seen in scrub between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(125) Great Tit
One was at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, two were at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12 and several were between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(126) Penduline Tit
One was heard calling in a ditch near the Isla Mayor rice fields on 13/12.
(127) Short-toed Treecreeper
Not recorded until 14/12 when three were heard and seen briefly in woods at Hinijos. Nearby, a further two were heard calling in scrub adjacent to the road and at least three were showing reasonably well around the reserve centre at El Rocio.
(128) Southern Grey Shrike
Surprisingly easy to get to grips with, on 13/12 there were three in the Corredor Verde area, at least two near the Isla Mayor rice fields, one at Caņada de Rianzuela and one near the 'Heron ponds'. On the 14/12, singles were between Hinijos and El Rocio and at the roadside near Mazignon.
One was seen from the car at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo on 13/12.
(130) Azure-winged Magpie
Incredibly numerous, the first Iberian Magpies seen were 15 on the road between Faro and Quinta do Lago on 12/12 (with a further 20 at Quinta do Lago itself the same day). The largest flocks noted involved 115 around Casa Doņana at Hinijos on 13/12, with up to 150 in the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo area the same day. At least 15 were in woods at Hinijos on 14/12, with 70 recorded nearby along the road to El Rocio.
Two at Villamanrique de la Condesa on 13/12 were the only birds noted that day. More numerous on 14/12 with small numbers in the El Rocio/Acebuche area and with 25+ noted at the Odiel Marshes.
A noisy flock of 200+ were at Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(133) Carrion Crow
A single bird was noted between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(134) Common Raven
Four were on pylons at Villamanrique de la Condesa and two flew over the Caņada de Rianzuela area on 13/12, and a single was between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
The only Common Starlings positively identified were a flock of 50+ in fields with Spotless Starlings near the Caņada de Rianzuela on 13/12.
(136) Spotless Starling
The first was one that flew over Hinijos early on the morning of 13/12, whilst later that day there were 60 at Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, 100 at the Isla Mayor rice fields, 50 at Caņada de Rianzuela and 20 at the Jose Antonio Valverde centre. Most notably were 1500 were at the pumping station in the northern marshes. On the 14/12 there were 50 between Hinijos and El Rocio.
(137) House Sparrow
Extremely numerous, there were flocks of 150 at Quinta do Lago on 12/12, 500 at Entremuros on 13/12 and 1000 between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
(138) Tree Sparrow
A flock of 30 were in gardens at Hinijos on 13/12 and up to 100 were with a large House Sparrow flock between Hinijos and El Rocio on 14/12.
The maximum count was of 50 in scrub behind the El Rocio visitor centre on 14/12.
Small numbers were seen with other finches and passerines throughout the area.
Large numbers were present throughout the area, maximum of 50 in gardens at Hinijos on the morning of 13/12.
Many large flocks were seen at the roadside throughout the area.
Many small flocks were noted throughout the northern marshes.
One flew over the woods at Hinijos early on the morning of 14/12.
(145) Reed Bunting
Single individuals seen and heard in a few reed-beds and ditches around the Doņana on 13-14/12.
(146) Corn Bunting
Small numbers were seen around the fields and marshes of the Northern Doņana.
(147) Common Waxbill
A flock of 20 Common Waxbills in roadside ditches opposite the 'Heron Ponds' on 13/12 may also have included a few Black-rumped Waxbills.
(148) Indian Silverbill
One was on the golf course at Quinta do Lago on 12/12.