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A Report from

Andalucía 4-24 August, 2000,

Mick Farmer

This is not a systematic list of everything seen, as some of you compile, more a list of birds that were noted at the time.  It was not a birdwatching holiday as the gaps will testify!  The temperature was touching 40°C most days and the normally wet areas were completely dry.

August 5 - Sevilla (Catedral and Alcázar)

LESSER KESTREL (Falco naumanni), given the illustration in the latest Collins guide, this species was expected.  HOUSE MARTIN (Delichon urbica), SWIFT (Apus apus), JACKDAW (Corvus monedula), HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus).  Where are the Spanish Sparrows?

August 6 - Sevilla (Antigua fábrica de tabacos)

BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula), BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla),LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus), HOUSE MARTIN (Delichon urbica).  Where are the Spotless Starlings?

August 8 - Mazagon

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica), WOODCHAT SHRIKE (Lanius senator), BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster), there were two beehives in the woods and these three species were enjoying themselves.  CORN BUNTING (Miliaria calandra), AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE (Cyanopica cyanus), a quick view of one flying across the road.

August 10 - Mazagon

COLLARED DOVE (Streptopelia decaoto), HOOPOE (Upupa epops), RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Hirundo daurica), GREAT TIT (Parus major).

August 12 - El Rocio

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcas ibis), LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta), FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber), WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia), lovely long views from the most famous bridge in Andalucía.  SPANISH SPARROW (Passer hispaniolensis), at last in a corral on the edge of town. RED KITE (Milvus milvus) overhead.

August 13 - La Rocina (Coto de Doñana)

BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraetus pennatus), at roof hight over our hotel's porch!  SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia), CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcas ibis), LITTLE EGRET (Egretta, garzetta), MONTAGU'S HARRIER (Circus pygargus), GREY HERON (Ardea cinerea), MERLIN (Falco columbarius), but what other small falcon could it be?  GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus), fabulous views in the pines.  FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber), WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia), BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus), SLENDER-BILLED GULL (Larus genei), SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla), GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis), COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo), COOT (Fulica atra) , BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster), STONECHAT (Saxicola torquata).

August 14 - El Acebuche (Coto de Doñana)

PURPLE SWAMP-HEN (Porphyrio porphyrio), superb views of two eating something!  LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis), WIGEON (Anus penelope), MALLARD (Anus platyrhynchos), SHOVELER (Anus clypeata), COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo), KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis), ROLLER (Coracias garrulus), WHITETHROAT (Sylvia communis), DARTFORD WARBLER (Sylvia undata), COOT (Fulica atra), CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus), CETTI'S WARBLER (Cettia cetti), singing with some flitting around the weed beds.  AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE (Cyanopica cyanus), as one of the guides states, almost tame in the car park.  MAGPIE (Pica pica).

August 15 - Coto de Doñana (Land Rover tour)

The marismas were completely dry.  RAVEN (Corvus corax), on the fresh water, green strip (which is simply amazing) between the dunes and the marismas.  OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralgus), KENTISH PLOVER (Charadrius alexanddrinus), SANDERLING (Calidris alba), SLENDER-BILLED GULL (Larus genei), all on the beach south of Matalascañas.

My own opinion is that the tour is not of interest to serious birdwatchers, nice views of deer and boar, but little else.  Perhaps it depends on the water levels.

August 17 - La Algaida (Sanlûcar de Barrameda)

KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus), LITTLE TERN (Sterna albifrons), working the salinas.  FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus ruber), PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea), LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus), WOODCHAT SHRIKE) Lanius senator). BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraetus pennatus).  This area could prove to be quite productive given time.

August 21 - Ronda

SWIFT (Apus apus), ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba), possible PALLID SWIFT (Apus pallidus), but cannot state with certainty!  CRAG MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), SPANISH SPARROW (Passer hispaniolensis), SPOTLESS STARLING (Sturnus unicolor), finally on some waste land beneath the Mirador, not as forthcoming as normal Starlings.  CHOUGH (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), WHITE/PIED WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba), BLUE ROCK THRUSH (Monticola solitarius), SERIN (Serinus serinus), HOOPOE (Upupa epops), down by the river, what a stink!

August 22 - Villaluenga del Rosario

BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraetus pennatus), GRIFFON VULTURE (Gyps fulvus).

August 24 - Utrera

GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos), gaining height over the stubble fields, but very close views.


An extremely good family holiday with a number of new species for me.  I was disappointed to miss some obvious species, but that's life.  I find raptors difficult unless they're virtually on my arm (which a couple were).  I'm certain we didn't see a Spanish Imperial Eagle, but Bonelli's Eagle?  Most warblers pass me by before I can even attempt an identification (you may have noticed that I've left most out because I'm not happy with their identification).  Where was endemic (?) Black Wheatear around Ronda?

This area is undergoing extensive changes in use so please keep up the pressure for retaining all national parks (Parques Nacional) and their buffer zones.  One look at the development of Matalascañas should convince you of that.  In spite of the fact that there's a water shortage in this region, there's a golf course with water hazards, not yetfull, but ...

Mick Farmer

Where to watch birds in Southern and Western Spain
Ernest Garcia and Andrew Paterson: Buy from or

  • The reprint and update of this excellent book have been long awaited. I have birded in this region of Spain many times and yet I still have much to learn, Garcia and Paterson are the experts. Where else in Europe can you see five species of swift in one day? Did you know that Ruppel's Griffon Vulture is now regular in part of the region? New sites have been added and access details thoroughly updated. Areas covered include birding hotspots such as Extremadura, Gibraltar and Ronda. A "must buy" if you are traveling to Southern Spain.


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