Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk
Spain - Extremadura & Coto Doñana, 19-26th May 2007,
The trip was made by Bernie Ellis, John Hopper and Mike Hodgkin. The three of us had visited Extremadura and Sepulveda in April 2002, and decided to visit slightly later this time, replacing Sepulveda with time further south in Coto Doñana. We had a target list of birds we hoped to see, chief amongst which were White-rumped Swift, Red-knobbed Coot & White-headed Duck.
Flights: We flew with Ryanair from London Stansted to Jerez de la Frontera, returning from Sevilla. This gave us maximum time in Spain, although it meant we had to drive to Stansted rather than from a more convenient airport for Notts. We arrived at Jerez at 10:50 CET on the 19th, returning from Sevilla at 21:10 CET on the 26th. Flight costs were approximately £125 each.
Car Hire: Booked on the Internet with Holiday Autos, at a cost of £130 for 8 days, with no additional cost for pick up/drop off at different airports. As the original plan was for just John & I to visit, we had booked a Vauxhall Astra size car – with a third person along we asked for an upgrade from the offered Peugeot 307 and got a Seat Altea XL. This suited our purposes perfectly and cost us an additional €10 per day (approx £6.80) making the total car hire cost £184.40.
Accommodation: We booked all our accommodation in advance over the Internet. John Butler of Donana Birdtours arranged B&B for us for the first three nights in Doñana in the village of Villamanrique de la Condesa, where he lives, at a cost of €30 a night each. This was a wise choice as staying anywhere near El Rocío would have been suicide during this time period – the annual festival & pilgrimage at Pentecost, which this year was on the 27th May, had already started to affect traffic and accommodation costs in that area.
Having read several recent trip reports, we decided to stay at “La Bodega Del Herrador” in Monroy, for the Extremadura leg of our trip. As had been reported previously, this was a fantastic place. It cost us €28 each per night including breakfast, which started with freshly squeezed orange juice and included as much as you could eat. The Menu de la Casa in the evening, which consisted of three courses plus water and wine, stumped us €8 a night each – unbelievable value for what was the best food of the trip! We initially struggled to contact the owners, who speak no English, via email to book. Finally John managed to contact them through both their own email address and that of an American resident of the village -mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or mailto:email@example.com. We were also very fortunate that amongst the guests in the hostel were two Americans who spoke good Spanish – this meant we knew what we were ordering from the menu every evening.
Research: We used two trips reports from the Internet – one from 2005 (http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/Spain/tour12/tour-of-spain-may-2005.htm) and one from 2006 (http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/Spain/tour16/spain-may-2006.htm), plus details of the Laguna de Diego Puertas near Los Palacios y Villafranca from Richard Bonser’s trip report from 2006. We also used the new ‘Where to Watch Birds in Doñana’ by Moreno & Gutiérrez & ‘A Birdwatching Guide to Extremadura’ by John Muddeman. John Butler is shortly publishing his own book on birding in Doñana, which I am sure will rival the Moreno and Gutiérrez book. We also booked a day out with John on the 21st May – although we didn’t visit any places we couldn’t have got to ourselves using the book we had, John has a great depth of knowledge of the area and it’s best current birding sites, so it was well worth the €35 each we paid.
May 19th - Bonanza Saltpans & Laguna de Diego Puertas
May 20th - El Rocío, El Acebuche, El Arroyo de La Rocina & Laguna Primera de Palos
May 21st – Corredor Verde, Isla Mayor & the Northern Marismas
May 22nd – Northern Marismas & Monfragüe (Castillo)
May 23rd – Cáceres Steppes & Monfragüe (Castillo – Penafalcon - Punte del Cardenal)
May 24th - Belen, Trujillo & Monfragüe (Portilla del Tiétar - Punte del Cardenal)
May 25th – Cáceres steppes, Madrigalego & the Sierra de Villuercas.
May 26th – Monfragüe (Castillo), Brazo del Este & Laguna de Diego Puertas
Daily Highlights with site descriptions:
May 19th - Our flight left Stansted slightly behind schedule, but due to the less than advertised actual flight time we landed in Jerez pretty much on time. We had checked the weather forecast on the BBC website prior to the trip and we weren’t disappointed to find the temperature as advertised - 36º! We managed to get an upgrade to our hire car and then headed off west to the Bonanza Saltpans adjacent to the east bank of the River Guadalquivir. We had heard from friends who had visited Doñana earlier in May that no Marbled Ducks were present, so having read a trip report from April, which indicated some being seen in this area, we thought it was worth a try. Unfortunately we were to be disappointed, as none were present – in fact this was one species we struck out on completely, much to John’s dismay. We did however see vast numbers of Greater Flamingo as well as many waders on the banks of the saltpans (predominantly Sanderling, but also Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank & lots of breeding Avocets). We also chanced upon a Western Olivaceous Warbler briefly on the wire fence adjacent to the main track, which gave us all our first lifer of the trip.
After having out fill of the saltpans we headed north to the outskirts of the town of Los Palacios y Villafranca in search of the Laguna de Diego Puertas. This site is easily found with decent directions, which fortunately we had courtesy of Richard Bonser’s trip report from May 2006 – otherwise we would have been left with asking for directions in the town, which at least one site guide said you needed to resort to! We took the track to the east (right) off the N-IV, approximately three kilometres north of Los Palacios, and immediately before the obvious canal. Soon the laguna came into view on our right – we drove alongside its northern edge and parked at a cross roads, where left was over the canal and right was along the eastern side of the laguna. The tamarisk bushes along the eastern edge of the laguna proved excellent for Western Olivaceous Warbler, with at least six singing males noted. On the opposite side of the canal from the laguna at the crossroads, was the start of a small orchard. From here a singing male Rufous Bush Chat and a single male Common Waxbill were seen easily.
We then drove road to Villamanrique de la Condesa and met up with John Butler – he showed us round to our B&B accommodation where we decided to call it a day.
May 20th – After breakfast at 07:30 we drove round to the marshes at El Rocío and birding from the remains of the SEO/Birdlife hide (this was burnt down a few years ago and is showing no signs of being rebuilt at present, though it seems to provide shelter for several waifs and strays and has definitely been used as a toilet by many!). The weather had started to take a turn for the worse, with strong winds and a drastic reduction in temperature (23º) – later in the day it started to rain, which then set the tone for the rest of the trip! Whiskered Terns were everywhere, with the occasional Black Tern thrown in for good measure (apparently a White-winged Black had been present at some stage during the previous week). A male Little Bittern showed very well at the top of the reeds right in front of us, at least 50 Spoonbills fed at the edge of the marsh and several Great Reed Warblers proclaimed territory from the reeds. Overall though the water levels were simply too high here for there to be that much of interest and we quickly decided to move on.
We drove south to El Acebuche, where our friends had seen a pair of Red-knobbed Coots with young earlier in the month. The car park at the visitor centre abounded with Iberian Magpies, some of which were attempting to feed from the rubbish bins, and live CCTV footage in the centre itself showed Iberian Lynx lounging about in the captive breeding programme area of the reserve. We headed to the hides in search of our quarry – at the third hide to the east of the centre we finally scored with a pair and two young Red-knobbed Coots showing on the most distant pool. Having seen lots on honeymoon in South Africa in 2006, I was particularly unimpressed by these birds, but I’m not sure that John & Bernie were that much behind me in their opinions either! We also had brief flight views of our only Golden Orioles of the trip here, as well as an obliging party of four Wild Boar that waded across the pools in front of us. Our first Purple Gallinules of the trip were seen and two Water Rail called from the reedbed.
In an attempt to get better views of the Coots we drove right round to the outskirts of Huelva to Laguna Primera de Palos, where we knew other birders had scored with them in previous years. The laguna is on the north side of the main road immediately before the first of the oil refineries, and was viewed over the disused railway line. Unfortunately there were no red-knobs noted on any of the Coots present at this site, making the ones at El Acebuche the only ones we saw all week. A Roller that flew over high to the north was probably the highlight here, although two fly past Common Waxbill, six Purple Gallinule & a singing Savi’s Warbler were also noteworthy.
We then drove back east to Doñana and visited La Rocina – we walked the paths during the afternoon, returned to El Rocío for a brief period of birding plus some food and then drove the tarmac road between La Rocina & the Palacio del Acebrón as dusk approached. The hides and water areas here were very disappointing, but we did manage to find a surprise in the form of a singing male Iberian Chiffchaff. We had thought this species was simply a migrant in the Doñana area, but perhaps that is not the case – either that or this was a very late migrant? Also here were our first Southern Grey Shrikes of the trip, three singing Savi’s Warbler, three Melodious Warbler, a Honey Buzzard and a distant Black-shouldered Kite (we had seen another kite from the SEO/Birdlife ‘hide ruin’ late afternoon). When we returned as dusk approached, a brief calling Red-necked Nightjar was then followed up with stunning views of two flying across the road right in front of us and landing at the side of the car. Unfortunately as the temperatures were low and there was still rain in the air, we did not find any birds resting on the tarmac, which had been mentioned in other trip reports.
May 21st – A late start was in order for our day of guided birding with John Butler. He had to pick up another guest from Sevilla, which meant he picked us up from our B&B at 09:30. We immediately headed over to the Corredor Verde where we had excellent close views of a pair of Black-shouldered Kite, as well as several Western Olivaceous Warbler and lots of other typical birds of the area. We made our way down to the Northern Marismas, stopping at several rice paddies enroute, one of which held at least 80 Black-winged Stilts! A massive colony of Spanish Sparrows in a Eucalyptus plantation was visited before we got into the Northern Marismas area. Birding from the car got us numerous Short-toed & Calandra Larks, with approximately ten Lesser Short-toed Larks thrown in for good measure. As we approached the José Antonio Valverde Centre more areas of water became apparent and with this the number of birds increased. Large numbers of Greater Flamingo were seen along with all the usual herons and staggering numbers of Glossy Ibis. We drove down to the end of the Cano del Guadiamar and birded the track off to the right. The area of open water to the north of this track was deep and held one of our main target birds – a stonking male White-headed Duck. The combination of deep water on one side of the track, with shallow areas on the other made this a superb area. We moved on after an hour or so to the José Antonio Valverde Centre, where we were disappointed to find that the Western Reef Heron which John Butler had found paired with a Little Egret was not on the nest. Over 300 pairs of Glossy Ibis, along with numerous pairs of Little & Cattle Egret and Purple and Night Heron gave tremendous views, though unfortunately through glass which made photography difficult.
After leaving the José Antonio Valverde Centre, we drove east then north back across the Northern Marismas before John dropped us back in Villamanrique and headed off to Sevilla to drop off the other guest. We decided to head back out again for another hour or so, returning to the Corredor Verde where we found another pair of Black-shouldered Kite adjacent to the El Vado de Quema bridge.
May 22nd – After a reasonably early start we drove back down into the Northern Marismas to the Cano del Guadiamar, as this had so far been the best area we had visited in Doñana. Working the same area as on the 21st we noted similar species, though with the reduced heat haze being earlier in the day, we did manage to see more wader species as the flock noted on the 21st was now identifiable! The highlight was a Red-necked Phalarope, which is a national rarity in Spain, but we also noted two Temminck’s Stint, two male White-headed Duck as well as two superb pairs of Slender-billed Gull and about 50 Collared Pratincole. Other than that the species seen were pretty much the same as on the 21st. Late morning we had to start the long drive north to Extremadura, which we managed to complete in approximately five hours from the heart of Doñana to Monroy, via the Autovia de le Plata.
On arrival in Monroy we checked into La Bodega del Herrador, which was to be our home for the next four nights. As we arrived we noted a weather forecast of Spanish television and despite our lack of language skills the pictures told us a pretty grim story – we were in for rain for the remainder of the trip. With this in mind, and the fact that it wasn’t raining yet, we decided to head straight to the Castillo de Monfragüe to try for our main target species in the area, White-rumped Swift. As we arrived, so did the rain! We spent about three hours there and unfortunately didn’t see many swifts at all, let alone any with white rumps. We put their absence down to the weather and hoped for better luck later in the week. We did however have superb close views of several Black Vulture amongst the many Griffons, as well as our first Rock Sparrow of the trip.
May 23rd – We arranged a late breakfast for 11:00 which allowed us to head out at first light onto the steppes between Monroy and Trujillo. We drove the road to Trujillo, then took the right turn to Santa Marta de Magasca, before looping back onto the track/road which joins the CC-912. The latter part of this was by far the best area, as it had been in 2002, with good numbers of all the expected steppe birds.
After we had driven through Santa Marta and climbed out of the Rio Almonte valley, we parked by a track to the south where a line of telegraph poles crossed the road. Here at least one pair of Roller were present as well as at least six Great-spotted Cuckoo. We also saw our first Great Bustard of the trip, though the small group of five were distant. We continued on this road until we took the road/track off to the west towards the CC-912 (called the ‘Bustard Road’ in some trip reports, and refers to sites 6-10 of main site 11 in Muddeman’s book). The highlights along this road included several displaying Little Bustard, at least ten Black-bellied Sandgrouse in flight, more small groups of Great Bustard and a real surprise in the form of a first-summer female Red-footed Falcon. Unfortunately before we managed to get all the way to the CC-912 we began to run out of time before our breakfast would be ready for us, so we had to make haste, avoiding the many deep potholes along this road and hotfoot it back to Monroy.
After breakfast we decided to give the Castillo at Monfragüe another try, though as if on cue, on arrival the heavens opened again and we had to shelter for at least an hour of the three we were up there looking for the swifts. As with our luck with the weather, our luck with the swifts didn’t change, and we had to resign ourselves to trying again another day. We did decide though to leave it until the last day of the trip, with the thought that given the general weather in Spain this spring the swifts may have been delayed in returning to Extremadura.
Our last stop of the day was at a site where we were able to get distant views of a pair of Spanish Imperial Eagle at the nest with two fairly well grown chicks (please email me for directions if required).
May 24th – We drove straight from Monroy to Trujillo and then onwards to Belen steppes after an early breakfast. After initial problems with finding the right road to drive out through Belen village, we eventually got out into the steppe area and almost immediately found a group of sixteen Great Bustards loafing not far from the road. A further group of five were also seen from the same vantage point, and with a single in flight over the car further down the road, it gave us a respectable 22 for the day. Twelve Little Bustards were also noted, though with greater difficulty given the relative size of the birds and length of grass. One Black Vulture perched on a stone close to the road was too good a photographic opportunity to miss out on, but the major surprise was not seeing a single Montagu’s Harrier in an area we had seen several in 2002.
After having our fill of the steppe birds we adjourned to the Plaza Mayor on Trujillo for lunch. A reasonable meal was made the more enjoyable by the attendant Lesser Kestrels and Pallid Swifts almost constantly on view. Numbers of the former were drastically down on those seen in 2002, when over 100 birds were noted as against the maximum of 20 this time!
After lunch we motored up to Monfragüe, with the intention of being at Portilla del Tiétar for dusk. We stopped at both the Punte del Cardenal and Fuente de los Tres Canos viewpoints, on the way to and from Tiétar respectively. Punte del Cardenal produced Subalpine Warbler and Cirl Bunting but not the hoped for Bonelli’s Eagle, whilst Fuente de los Tres Canos produced more Subalpines as well as Dartford Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear and some very showy Thekla Larks. Arriving early than expected Tiétar in mid afternoon it didn’t take us long to find a single well grown Eagle Owl chick. It was well out in the open, which given the heavy rain was not the most sensible position for it to be in. This is probably why it then moved across the cliff and found the shelter of a small tree. After we had been sat in the hide sheltering for about an hour, John called us over having found an adult bird sat right out in the open. This bird gave great views, allowing some half reasonable digi-scoped photos to be taken despite the poor light. We didn’t see the semi-resident Spanish Imperial Eagle here - though this site has not been used in 2007, at least one adult bird has been seen regularly from the mirador.
May 25th – Another reasonably early start saw us at the western end of the Cáceres steppes by the ‘Roller’ boxes on the CC-912 looking to view the areas we had to drive rapidly through on the 23rd. Several small groups of Great Bustard were noted, with 27 being our total for the day, as well as smaller numbers of Little Bustard. Both species of Sandgrouse were seen in flight, with Pin-tailed outnumbering Black-bellied by ten to two. Three Great Spotted Cuckoo showed well in bushes by the road, a single melanistic Montagu’s Harrier was seen amongst 14 ‘normally’ plumaged birds and the 1st summer female Red-footed Falcon was still feeding in the same ploughed field with Lesser Kestrels as it had been on the 23rd.
We then headed south-east via Trujillo to Madrigalego. Several Roller and Lesser Kestrel were seen from the car on the way south, before we arrived and viewed the rió Ruecas from the main road bridge on the outskirts of the town. Almost immediately a male Red Avadavat was seen briefly and after a short wait at least one, but probably two females were also seen. Melodious, Great Reed & Cetti’s Warblers sang from the scrub and reeds, and Gull-billed, Whiskered & Black Terns were seen hawking over the rice fields.
Driving back north, we then headed further east into the Sierra de Villuercas, heading for the small village of Cabanas del Castillo. After a winding ascent into the mountains, we parked in the village and walked up to the church perched just below the crags at the top of the village. After quickly exploring the area behind the church, we found a Black Wheatear perched on rocks out from the front of the church looking north. Another was also then seen from where we had parked the car, feeding in the dehesa below the village. We also saw our only Peregrine Falcons of the trip here as well as three Bonelli’s Eagle distantly. We then drove back to Monroy via Deleitosa, Jaraicejo & the Spanish Imperial Eagle nest site near Torrejón el Rubio.
May 26th – We headed straight up to the Castillo de Monfragüe for one final attempt for White-rumped Swift. Despite slightly better weather and much increased numbers of Common Swift in the area, we again drew a blank. We still thought that the poor weather may have delayed the arrival of these birds, but Mark Thomas also visited the site two weeks later and didn’t score either, so perhaps this site has been abandoned for 2007? As a postscript to our trip though, Mark did chance upon a breeding site for White-rumped Swift actually under the N-V road bridge over the rio Almonte just south of Jaraicejo. We may just have to go back another year – or try the birds near Tarifa!
Heading south from Monfragüe, we had to decide whether to try for the breeding Lesser Flamingo’s at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra or to visit the Brazo del Este. Unfortunately we chose the proximity of the latter, which given that the area was almost dry because of ongoing re-routing of waterways, was in hindsight the wrong decision. Although we didn’t see much of note in this area, we did see lots of Collared Pratincole and also took the opportunity to revisit the Laguna de Diego Puertas site we had been too on our first day. Two singing male Rufous Bush Chat were the highlight here, before we then headed north to Sevilla airport for our return flight to London Stansted.
Summary: We drove a total of 2050 kilometres over the eight days and managed to see most of our targets birds, with the notable exceptions of White-rumped Swift and Marbled Duck. The weather was changeable to say the least – overall Spain has had a bizarre spring with heavy late snowfall in the north and a very wet Easter in the south. Although our first day was dry and very hot (36º), it rained on every other day with temperatures sometimes as low as 12º even in the middle of the day! Not exactly what you expect from Spain in mid-late May. In fact a state of national emergency was declared in some provinces because of the heavy flooding! What it did mean though was that heat haze, which normally hampers birding in the middle of the day, was not such a problem – chance would have been a fine thing!
Selected Species List
1. Black-necked Grebe – two pairs at Cano del Guadiamar and a single at the José Antonio Valverde Centre on the 21st, with a pair still at the former site on the 22nd.
2. Cormorant – a single flew over whilst at the Punte del Cardenal viewpoint in Monfragüe on the 24th.
3. Little Bittern – a single seen from the remains of the SEO hide at El Rocío on the 20th & at least six at the Cano del Guadiamar on the 21st.
4. Black Stork – ones and twos noted in Monfragüe on all dates visited, with a maximum of six on the 24th being the highest day count.
5. Glossy Ibis – lots of birds seen on all days in Doñana, with a minimum of 300 pairs having nested at the José Antonio Valverde Centre this was no real surprise.
6. Spoonbill – seen on all days in Doñana, with one bird also present at Bonanza Saltpans on the 19th.
7. Greater Flamingo – huge numbers were noted at both Bonanza Saltpans on the 19th & in the Northern Marismas on the 21st/22nd. A conservative estimate of 3,000 birds with many more undoubtedly present in non-accessible areas with such high water levels being most conducive.
8. Greylag Goose – a pair were seen on a rice field on Isla Mayor on the 21st.
9. Pintail – a female in flight briefly at El Rocío on the evening of the 20th was the only record.
10. Shoveler – a drake at Laguna Primera de Palos on the 20th was the only record.
11. White-headed Duck – s single male on the 21st, with two present the next morning at Cano del Guadiamar.
12. Black-shouldered Kite – two singles at El Rocío and La Rocina on the 20th and two pairs noted in the Corredor Verde on the 21st.
13. Egyptian Vulture – noted daily in Extremadura, with 15 being the biggest day count on the 23rd.
14. Black Vulture – nowhere numerous but ones and twos observed in Monfragüe on all visits, at Belen on the 24th & on the Cáceres steppes on the 23rd.
15. Osprey – one caught a fish at the Bonanza Saltpans on the 19th.
16. Honey Buzzard – one over La Rocina on the 20th and singles on three occasions whilst in Monfragüe were almost certainly all delayed migrants on their way to northern Europe.
17. Spanish Imperial Eagle – a pair with two young in the nest were observed on a pylon near to Torrejón el Rubio on both the 23rd & 25th. Although this is a well-known site, as it’s such a rare bird I won’t put directions here.
18. Bonelli’s Eagle – three were seen from the village of Cabanas del Castillo on the 25th.
19. Red-footed Falcon – a first summer female was a surprise find on the Cáceres steppes from the road between the CC-912 & Santa Marta de Magasca on the 23rd. It was still present on the 25th when we revisited this area.
20. Peregrine - a pair at Cabanas del Castillo on the 25th were the only ones seen.
21. Red-knobbed Coot – a pair with two well grown young at El Acebuche on the 20th were most under-whelming, though a lifer for all three of us (a Western Pal lifer for Mike anyway)!
22. Purple Gallinule – noted at El Acebuche, Laguna Primera de Palos (both on the 20th) & the Cano del Guadiamar (22nd) with six at Laguna Primera de Palos being the largest number seen.
23. Great Bustard – almost all males and seen in small flocks, good numbers were seen at both Belen & on the Cáceres steppes. Four on the 23rd & 27 on the 25th were seen at Cáceres, with 22 at Belen on the 24th.
24. Little Bustard – a little harder to find than it’s larger congener, probably due to the length of the grass on the steppes, 12 seen at both Belen & on the Cáceres steppes on the 24th & 25th respectively were the largest day counts.
25. Stone Curlew – noted on every day on the steppes, with six on the Cáceres steppes on the 23rd being the highest day count.
26. Collared Pratincole – common in the Northern Marismas, with 50 the biggest day count on the 22nd, another 50 were also seen at Brazo del Este on the 26th, as well as two being seen over the Cáceres steppes on the 23rd.
27. Little Ringed Plover – three at La Acebuche on the 20th & one behind the bullring in Trujillo on the 24th were the only seen.
28. Temminck’s Stint – two were in the large wader flock at Cano del Guadiamar on the morning of the 22nd.
29. Red-necked Phalarope – a single was noted at Cano del Guadiamar on the morning of the 22nd. A description for this newly classified Spanish rarity has been submitted to the SEO.
30. Slender-billed Gull – noted at Bonanza Saltpans, El Rocío & at the Cano del Guadiamar, though never in big numbers. The most seen were 20 at Bonanza on the 19th and six at Cano del Guadiamar on the 22nd.
31. Whiskered Tern – huge numbers were seen throughout Doñana wherever there was water! The largest flock was that at El Rocío where we estimated at least 300 birds were present.
32. Black Tern – never as numerous as Whiskered Tern, the most seen were 30 at Cano del Guadiamar on the 21st.
33. Black-bellied Sandgrouse – several small groups, totalling 14 birds, were seen from the Cáceres to Santa Marta de Magasca road on the 23rd, with two noted in the same area on the 25th.
34. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse – three in flight at Cano del Guadiamar on the 22nd was a nice surprise. Several small groups, totalling ten birds, were more expected from the Cáceres to Santa Marta de Magasca road on the morning of the 25th.
35. Great Spotted Cuckoo – a minimum of 12 birds were seen in total, including a very vocal group of six, all from roads through the Cáceres steppes on the 23rd & 25th.
36. Eagle Owl – a single adult and well-grown chick were visible from the viewpoint at Portilla del Tiétar on the 24th during broad daylight – this meant we didn’t need to stay out until dark at this site in the rain.
37. Red-necked Nightjar – two showed very well at dusk from the tarmac road between La Rocina and the Palacio del Acebrón, as well as one heard calling. The road is gated at its junction with the A-483, which meant that we were actually evicted as it got dark. This was probably due to the proximity in date to the festival at El Rocío, when every available place for sleeping is utilised, including bird hides. The Spanish warden who evicted us didn’t seem too impressed that we were still there after dark!
38. Pallid Swift – only noted in the Plaza Mayor in Trujillo whilst having lunch on the 24th, when much smaller numbers, only about 20, were seen than on our visit in April 2002 (100’s noted that year!).
39. Roller – a single high to the north over Laguna Primera de Palos on the 20th was the first record of the trip until we reached Extremadura. Birds were then seen at both the eastern & western ends of the Cáceres to Santa Marta de Magasca road on the 23rd & 25th (several pairs), as well as on the wires adjacent to the main EX-378 between Zorita & Madrigalego on the 25th. All the birds in Extremadura were in close attendance to boxes on telegraph poles.
40. Lesser Short-toed Lark – noted on both the 21st & 22nd on the dirt tracks and in Salicornia scrub in the Northern Marismas. At least 10 on the 21st was the largest day count.
41. Rufous Bush Chat – two singing males showed well from the small orchard across the canal from Laguna de Diego Puertas on both the 19th & 26th.
42. Northern Wheatear – a single male seen from the car on the steppes to the east of the CC-912 whilst driving north from Doñana to Extremadura.
43. Black Wheatear – two birds showed well at Cabanas del Castillo on the 25th, where they breed on the rocks behind the church.
44. Western Olivaceous Warbler – at least five showed well at Laguna de Diego Puertas on the 19th, with one singing there on the 26th. In addition two birds were also seen well in the Corredor Verde, from the bridge over the river Guadiamar by El Vado de Quema on the 21st.
45. Iberian Chiffchaff – a surprising find was a singing male at La Rocina in the umbrella pines on the 20th.
46. Spotted Flycatcher – a single in the umbrella pines at La Rocina on the 20th.
47. Red-billed Chough – a pair at the Castillo in Monfragüe noted on all three visits.
48. Raven – seen every day of the trip, with a large flock of 50 just south of Zorita on the way to Madrigalego on the 25th being the biggest count.
49. Tree Sparrow – two using a nestbox in the umbrella pines at La Rocina on the 20th were the only ones seen.
50. Rock Sparrow – one heard calling at the Castillo in Monfragüe on the 22nd.
51. Red Avadavat – three birds, including one male, were seen from the bridge over the rió Ruecas on the 25th at Madrigalego.
52. Common Waxbill – a single was seen well at Laguna de Diego Puertas on the 19th and two were seen in flight only at Laguna Primera de Palos on the 20th.
The following species were seen in numbers and at locations generally as and where they would be expected.
1. Great Crested Grebe
2. Little Grebe
3. Night Heron
4. Grey Heron
5. Purple Heron
6. Little Egret
7. Cattle Egret
8. Squacco Heron
9. White Stork
12. Red-crested Pochard
13. Common Pochard
14. Griffon Vulture
15. Short-toed Eagle
16. Booted Eagle
17. Black Kite
18. Red Kite
19. Marsh Harrier
20. Montagu’s Harrier
21. Common Buzzard
22. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
23. Common Kestrel
24. Lesser Kestrel
25. Red-legged Partridge
27. Water Rail
29. Common Coot
30. Black-winged Stilt
32. Ringed Plover
33. Kentish Plover
34. Grey Plover
35. Golden Plover
40. Curlew Sandpiper
42. Spotted Redshank
43. Common Sandpiper
44. Black-tailed Godwit
47. Black-headed Gull
48. Yellow-legged Gull
49. Gull-billed Tern
50. Little Tern
51. Feral Pigeon
53. Turtle Dove
54. Collared Dove
56. Tawny Owl
57. Little Owl
58. Common Swift
59. Alpine Swift
62. Great Spotted Woodpecker
64. Calandra Lark
65. Thekla Lark
66. Crested Lark
68. Short-toed Lark
69. Sand Martin
70. Crag Martin
71. House Martin
72. Barn Swallow
73. Red-rumped Swallow
74. Spanish Wagtail
75. White Wagtail
76. Grey Wagtail
79. Black Redstart
81. Black-eared Wheatear
82. Blue Rock Thrush
83. Mistle Thrush
85. Fan-tailed Warbler
86. Cetti’s Warbler
87. Savi’s Warbler
88. Reed Warbler
89. Great Reed Warbler
90. Melodious Warbler
91. Dartford Warbler
92. Subalpine Warbler
93. Sardinian Warbler
95. Long-tailed Tit
96. Blue Tit
97. Great Tit
99. Short-toed Treecreeper
100. Golden Oriole
101. Southern Grey Shrike
102. Woodchat Shrike
104. Black-billed Magpie
105. Iberian Magpie
107. Carrion Crow
108. Spotless Starling
109. House Sparrow
110. Spanish Sparrow
117. Cirl Bunting
118. Rock Bunting
119. Corn Bunting
The total number of species seen on the trip was 171.