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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk
Southern Spain, 4-17 September 2002,
Ian Barthorpe (RSPB Norwich Office) & Tim Strudwick (RSPB Strumpshaw Fen)
Transport and accommodation. Only flights, car hire and accommodation for first 3 nights booked in advance. Other accommodation, in combination of Pensions and Youth Hostels, found as we travelled.
Weather - Hot, sunny. Cloudy and cooler on morning of 14 September. Cloudy and humid on 16 September, followed by overnight thunderstorm. Winds generally light, westerly to start, then easterlies and north-easterlies.
Where to Watch Birds Guide: Southern
Itinerary and highlights
Wednesday 4 September
Flew into Málaga, collected hire car and departed towards El Rocío. Planned to stop on route at El Torcal (MA5). First stop in fields soon after leaving main Malaga-Antequerra road. Passerine flocks here contained Crested Larks, Linnets and Goldfinches, with several Red-rumped Swallows overhead.
A one-hour walk at El Torcal was productive, despite the afternoon heat. Several warblers were present, including Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers and Whitethroat. Thekla Larks were numerous. Redstart, Stonechats and Blue Rock Thrushes were also found, while both Black-eared and Black Wheatears were seen on the descent. Juvenile Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes were seen on the journey to El Rocío, plus Azure-winged Magpies near the town.
El Rocío must be seen to really appreciate the 'wild west' feel of the town with its sandy streets and abundant horses.
In El Rocío (H5d), we spent the late evening watching from the top of the SEO Visitor Centre (without telescopes, so reducing viewing). The marsh was virtually dry, but still held good numbers of Cattle Egrets; waders, including Lapwing, Collared Pratincole and Black-winged Stilts; and Blue-headed Wagtails. Three Fan-tailed Warblers were around the edge. Several red deer were amongst the cattle.
Thursday 5 September
Started the day on top of the SEO centre. Eight juvenile Greater Flamingos were the first of many on the trip. Four Greylag Geese were unseasonal (or feral?). Raptors included distant Black-shouldered Kite, Short-toed and Booted Eagles and Kestrel. Better viewing revealed a higher list of waders, including Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwits. Apart from the ubiquitous House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings, passerines were few, but included Chiffchaff and a pair of Ravens. At least one of the Blue-headed Wagtails appeared to be of the race iberiae.
On to the trails and hides at La Rocina (H5b), where we at least found some water, albeit not much. Herons were prominent: Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Little and Cattle Egrets, Greater Flamingo. Waders included Green and Common Sandpipers, Ruff and Spotted Redshanks, while a female Red-crested Pochard rested amongst commoner ducks, and Water Rails were vocal, but remained invisible. Highlight was undoubtedly the flyover Black Stork.
Booted Eagles were noticeable, and were joined by Buzzard and Black Kite. Following the trails through the woodland, we found a number of passerines. These included Whinchat, Western Bonelli's and Melodious Warblers, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher and Short-toed Treecreeper.
A quick visit to the SEO centre in El Rocío produced a high flock of 23 Bee-eaters.
The pools at Acebuche (H5a) were almost completely dry, though both Kingfisher and Snipe seemed at home. Highlight here was the three Mongooses beside one tiny pool. Pied Flycatcher and Wheatear joined the growing list of migrant passerines, and both Thekla Lark and Hoopoe were found.
During the afternoon, we drove around to the rice fields in the northern part of Doñana, along an extremely bumpy gravel road to the Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre. This must be one of the most inaccessible visitor centres in Europe! The rice fields were alive with herons, including Squacco Herons and Purple Herons, and these were joined by several Purple Gallinules. Fan-tailed Warblers and Short-toed Larks were the most notable passerines.
Where open water could be found there were a few waders, but the best pools were around and immediately west of the centre. These held good numbers of Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Greenshanks and Spotted Redshanks. A large flock of Griffon Vultures fed nearby. Other raptors included Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier and another distant Black-shouldered Kite. Highlights here were Glossy Ibis, juvenile Night Heron and two Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, all flying over. The return drive seemed even longer.
Friday 6 September
Started the day with some early morning seawatching from Matalascañas (H5f). Generally quiet, but highlights were Caspian Tern, Audouin's Gull, Gannet and both Common and Sandwich Terns. Whinchat and Sardinian Warbler both called nearby.
Heading west, we looked for the Lagunas de Palos y Las Madres (H4g). The large laguna beside the main road (Laguna de las Madres) was quiet, with Black and Little Terns the highlights. Tim heard a Tree Pipit here. Further on, the last, smaller, laguna (Laguna Primera de Palos) was more profitable, with the highlight being a Little Bittern flushed (which I missed). Purple Gallinule, Teal and Kingfisher were other good records. The other two lagunas could not be located.
On reaching the Huelva area, first stop was El Estero de Domingo Rubio (H4f) near La Rabida. This was a good spot for White Storks, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills and waders, including Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Snipe and Wood Sandpiper. On the nearby estuary at La Rábida (H4e) were Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone, plus Fan-tailed Warbler and Red-rumped Swallow, all in view of the replicas of Christopher Columbus's ships.
The central causeway through the Marismas del Odiel at Huelva (H4c) was alive with birds. Greater Flamingos were on most of the Salinas, and waders in all the estuary creeks and pools. Most of the commoner waders were present, including Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Knot. Marsh Harrier and a superb dark-phase Montagu's Harrier were highlights, but the real bonus here was a first-year Short-eared Owl flying north along the narrow part of the causeway. Audouin's Gulls and Little Terns were amongst the gull flocks.
On the map, the small lake at El Portil (H3) looked unpromising. How wrong we were! This was one of the easiest sites to view, with a large platform adjacent to the main road, overlooked by apartments where a Firecrest called in the pines. The large Pochard flock included three male and a female White-headed Ducks and two female Ferruginous Ducks. Two Little Bitterns gave good views as they flew across then walked around the reed edge. Overhead, a Buzzard battled with nine Ravens. Several terrapins were hauled out, too.
Returning eastwards, we made a detour through the Western Pinewoods of Doñana (H5g). Raptors included the first Peregrine of the trip, but the main highlight was a superb male Black-eared Wheatear. This was followed by more seawatching, with Arctic Skua the only notable sighting.
The evening was completed with a dusk vigil in the scrub east of El Rocío searching for Red-necked Nightjar. Sadly, no luck there, but we did see a Night Heron and heard a Nightingale plus at least three Little Owls calling.
Saturday 7 September
Departing El Rocío early we headed for the eastern part of Doñana, and the rice fields of Brazo de la Torre (SE2). Once again, herons were the most obvious species. A flock of 35+ Glossy Ibises and a roost of 25+ Night Herons were highlights, plus a flock in excess of 200 White Storks. Waders included several Wood Sandpipers and Greenshanks, and a calling Stone-curlew. Three Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flew over. Another notable wetland species was Whiskered Tern.
Raptors put on a good show here, with a presumed family party of four ringtail Montagu's Harriers, plus another dark-phase male further along. A distant Osprey was an even better find. Amongst the many Crested Larks were several Short-toed Larks. Fan-tailed and Cetti's Warblers were everywhere, but a probable Spectacled Warbler could not be relocated among them.
Heading north from Villafranco del Guadalquivir towards Alfonso XIII we stopped to study an unusual bird. This was a dark-phase egret and looked superficially like a Western Reef Heron. The bird was feeding at the edge of a rice field adjacent to the road and afforded good views at close range. This allowed us to conclude, based on bare part colouration and structure, that this bird was, in fact, most likely to be an equally rare dark-phase Little Egret. Whatever, it was certainly a very attractive bird.
Unable to find the ferry (does one still run?) we took the long route, via the Sevilla bypass, to the east bank of the Guadalquivir River. A tiny roadside pool on route held Little Ringed Plovers and Wood Sandpipers plus lots of Blue-headed Wagtails amongst the horses' hooves.
Eventually we reached the wetlands of Brazo del Este (SE1). The southern part of this area still had several good wet patches and these were full of herons, waders and wildfowl, which became more obvious once flushed by a hunting Osprey. At least nine Marbled Ducks and a female Pintail were highlights, along with Little Stints, Kentish Plovers, Little and Black Terns and over 30 Little Grebes.
After finding accommodation in Jerez de la Frontera, we headed for the Lagunas del Puerto de Santa María (CA14), but Laguna Salada (the largest) was dry. Instead, we went to Laguna de Medina (CA15) for the evening. This large laguna held many Coots, but sadly it was impossible to pick out any Crested Coots (undoubtedly they are around at this time of year, but just very difficult to identify). At least three Black-necked Grebes and about 50 White-headed Ducks were highlights, with Curlew Sandpipers among the waders on the shore. However, the star attraction here was the 570 Greater Flamingos, which looked superb in the evening sun. Nine Turtle Doves added variety.
Sunday 8 September
From Jerez we returned to Brazo del Este for a more thorough visit. Fifteen Greylag Geese nearby were notable, and as usual, waders, herons and wildfowl dominated. These included Marbled Ducks, a few Glossy Ibises, good numbers of Purple, Squacco and Night Herons, Purple Gallinules and Wood Sandpipers, plus the first Garganey of the trip.
The Osprey was still present, and a Peregrine flew through, too. Terns included Whiskered. The passerines here were notable, too. They included at least three Penduline Tits, two Great Reed Warblers, a Willow Warbler and Corn Bunting. The stars though, were a small party of Common Waxbills in tall ditch-side vegetation about halfway along. These gave excellent views.
Next stop was the pinewoods at Pinar de la Algaida (CA17b), where Tim heard Tree Sparrows. The Laguna de Tarelo (CA17c) was quiet, but did hold a Black-necked Grebe and three pairs of White-headed Ducks. Both Booted and Short-toed Eagles gave excellent views over the wood, but the only passerines were Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
The nearby Salinas de Monte Algaida (CA17d) were difficult to view in the mid afternoon heat. Several hundred Greater Flamingos were present and several wader species. A distant Red Kite hunted over the saltmarsh. Best of all was the flock of about 40 larks seen feeding in the saltmarsh. These took some pinning down, but at least ten (probably all?) were eventually confirmed as Lesser Short-toed Larks, and gave good views.
We skipped the Salinas at Bonanza (CA17a) due to the haze (later to discover that there had been over 300 Slender-billed Gulls present). Instead, we went seawatching from Chipiona (CA16), where highlights were a Balearic Shearwater, about 20 Gannets and two Arctic Skuas. (A tip here: do not try to get out of Chipiona on a Sunday evening unless you have plenty of time - it was slow-going.)
Monday 9 September
After a leisurely start, the drive south from Jerez took us to Lagunas de Puerto Real (Ca13), where Red-legged Partridges and Corn Buntings were numerous. The Laguna del Taraje was easy to view from the track (albeit from a distance). Gulls and Greater Flamingos dominated, with small numbers of Pochard and two male White-headed Ducks, but again it was impossible to pick out any Crested Coots. Following the track to the far side of the lake produced a variety of the more common passerines, plus the first Tawny Pipit of the trip and a Black Kite. We were unable to find Laguna de San Antonio.
The San Fernando area (CA12a) was an unproductive one. The Salinas south of the town were quiet, as was Playa de Composoto (CA12b) (not helped by building work). A Whimbrel was the highlight here.
Next stop was Cabo Trafalgar (CA10b) for more seawatching. A few Gannets and Sandwich Terns were all that were seen, and the bushes around the lighthouse were quiet - perhaps not surprisingly in the early afternoon heat.
The nearby Barbate pinewoods (CA10a) provided a pleasant respite from the sun. Pied and Spotted Flycatchers were seen, and Short-toed Treecreepers were numerous. Most notably, this site produced the first Chaffinch of the trip (!) as well as several Blue and Great Tits. A Mediterranean Gull was on the Barbate estuary (CA10c).
After finding accommodation in Tarifa, we returned north to Bolonia to check out the caves on the southern side of the Sierra de la Plata (CA5). There were few swifts or hirundines, but raptors put on a good show over the ridges to the north: Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagles, two Short-toed Eagles and an adult Egyptian Vulture. A Peregrine came over the ridge above us. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Goldfinches kept us company.
Tuesday 10 September
An early start to be on Tarifa Beach (Playa de los Lances) (CA1) for first light, yet we still failed to beat the early morning walkers! The beach itself was quiet, with a few Audouin's Gulls amongst the commoner species, joined by Sanderling, Kentish Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Walking around the reserve area we saw several Tawny Pipits and Short-toed Larks, and then had the bonus of nine Little Bustards flying over and into the nearby fields. A Kingfisher was on the stream, and several Cattle Egrets flew from a roost beyond Tarifa. Several Balearic Shearwaters and a Gannet were offshore.
With very little wind, we were unsure how successful raptor watching would be, but headed to Puerto del Bujeo (CA2d) anyway. Scanning the swift flocks produced Alpine Swifts and Crag Martins, but no white-rumped species (except House Martins). Passerines included Serin, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. A large flock (40+) of Bee-eaters passed over very high.
However, we had come for raptors, and during the two and a half hours here we certainly saw plenty. Minima were: 300 Honey Buzzards, 60 Black Kites, 30 Griffon Vultures, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzards, 3 Short-toed Eagles, 10 Booted Eagles, 2 Lesser Kestrels and 3 Kestrels. Many of these were low over the ridge behind us. With them were 2 Black Storks and about 80 White Storks.
A trip to Alto del Cabrito (CA2b) was far less successful. Very few birds were seen from here, and the proliferation of wind turbines made viewing difficult.
The afternoon was spent driving around La Janda (CA4). Two ringtail Montagu's Harriers added to the raptor list for the day, as did a calling Little Owl that refused to show itself. Green and Wood Sandpipers were on the few remaining pools, and Red-rumped Swallows overhead. From one of the bridges on the main track across the north of the area we found a pale Hippolais warbler, but after much discussion concluded that it was only a Melodious Warbler. Turtle Dove was another highlight.
A return visit to Sierra de la Plata for the evening was much more successful.
Blue Rock Thrushes were very noticeable, and another Black Stork
went over, but we had really come for swifts. We were joined here by a tour
party from the
Following a tip we returned down the hill to the junction immediately outside the military zone, turning left for about one kilometre, then left up a steep, rutted track in search of Eagle Owls. Unfortunately they did not oblige on this occasion.
Wednesday 11 September
Another early start saw us seawatching from the causeway to the island in Tarifa (CA2a). A strong easterly wind resulted in several Cory's Shearwaters heading out of the Mediterranean, and a couple of Balearic Shearwaters heading in. Sanderling, Turnstone and Grey Wagtail were on the beach.
A search for Rufous Bush Robin just outside Tarifa proved unsuccessful
(one had been heard by the
Our chosen route inland, via the A381, was disrupted by major road works for the road to be dualled. We were eventually able to stop at a picnic area in Los Alcornocales (CA6) several kilometres after Alcalá. Pied Flycatcher and Short-toed Treecreeper were here, but the highlight was a juvenile Robin - the first of the trip. Most of the afternoon was spent looking for accommodation on the circuit of the Sierra de Grazalema (CA19), before eventually heading to Ronda (MA12a), where we had more success. Choughs were very numerous in the gorge here, with both Spotted Flycatcher and Cetti's Warbler seen in the bottom.
Thursday 12 September
From Ronda we headed back onto the circuit of the Sierra de Grazalema (CA19). Just outside the town both Green Woodpecker and Black Wheatear were heard. Heading north from Grazalema we spotted at the summit of Puerto de las Palomas, where we were treated to clear views in the morning light. A male Rock Thrush sat prominently on the wall of the Mirador, with Rock Bunting, Serin, Black Redstart and Sardinian and Dartford Warblers all around, while Crested Tits were heard but remained hidden.
Our next stop, Puerto del Boyar, was one of the best of the entire trip, especially for passerines. First to make their presence known were both Woodlark and Thekla Lark calling overhead. Amongst the warblers here were Subalpine Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler. Robin and Wren were calling, and Redstarts hopped around below us. Finches were also prominent, with Serin everywhere. These were joined by Hawfinches and several singing Crossbills, while Cirl Buntings and a pair of Rock Thrushes added variety. Raptors, though, were confined to a couple of Griffon Vultures.
Further around the circuit both Booted Eagle and Sparrowhawk were seen, and Nuthatches were prominent at a picnic site above Benamahoma.
For lunch we stopped at the streamside in El Bosque (near the Youth Hostel). The shade was appreciated, and the birds seemed to think so to, with the poplar wood alive with warblers in particular. Cetti's Warblers were very vocal, and a Garden Warbler was a good bonus. Pied Flycatcher and Long-tailed Tits were also seen. The stream was full of Grey Wagtails (and trout), and a Red-rumped Swallow called overhead.
A Short-toed Eagle near Benacoaz was the only other notable bird on the circuit, but a real surprise awaited on our return to Ronda: two Ring-necked Parakeets called as they flew overhead. Finally a Lesser Kestrel joined the Alpine Swifts and Choughs around the gorge.
Friday 13 September
From Ronda we headed south on the A376, southwest through Cartajima on a circuit of the Serranía de Ronda (MA12d). Our target species here were Rock Sparrow and eagles, but these eluded us. Highlights were Black Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Wren, Chough and Crested Tit, whilst apart from the ubiquitous Kestrels the only raptors were Marsh and Montagu's Harriers.
Completing this circuit we headed to Jimera de Libar in the Upper Río Guadiaro Valley (MA13), where the woodland shade was greatly appreciated. Cirl Bunting, Grey Wagtail and calling Bee-eaters were the best birds. We also spent some time butterfly watching and were able to identify Striped Grayling, Meadow Brown and Brimstone. Unidentified species included a copper, a blue and at least one more grayling.
A brief stop around Montejaque produced a handful of migrating raptors, including Lesser Kestrel, Honey Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle, before we returned early to Ronda. A walk down the gorge here was unproductive, except for another Lesser Kestrel and many Chough and Alpine Swifts. On returning to the main bridge to enjoy the evening sun, we finally found our quarry: at least six Rock Sparrows clung to the wall of the gorge. They were on the north wall of the gorge as we looked east, and appeared to still be using nest holes here. The previous two evenings we had been looking the wrong way!
Saturday 14 September
Our drive out of Ronda took us first to a small un-named valley in the Sierra Blanquilla (MA10c), where a Woodlark called overhead. As we were looking for raptors, we decided to move quickly on to the pass at Puerto del Viento (MA10d) (where contrary to the comment in the guide there is ample parking).
Initially this site was quiet, except for good numbers of Corn Buntings, but we were soon treated to a raptor spectacle worth waiting for. First an adult Golden Eagle appeared, perched on the ridge above us. Whilst watching this, an adult and juvenile Egyptian Vulture put on a flying demonstration overhead. Soon after the eagle departed, we found two adults and a juvenile perched on a more distant ridge. Incredibly, two further adults (one in heavy moult) flew over, too - five Golden Eagles at one site! With Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagles and Osprey also passing through, this was an excellent site.
Slightly further on, Crested Tits and Crossbills could be heard around the forest viewpoint (MA10e). We were obviously departing at just the right time, as a cycle race was due later (I think this was the Tour of Spain) and we could have found the road closed.
Time constraints led us to abandon plans to visit El Chorro (MA4), so we headed north towards Campillos. A lake beside the road, with a hide, looked ideal for lunch. We had overlooked this in the guide, but Laguna Dulce (MA2) was certainly worth stopping at. Black Terns and a pair of White-headed Ducks joined the usual mix of Greater Flamingos, waders and wildfowl. Amongst a large flock of Curlew Sandpipers was a real surprise: a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope gave excellent views close to the hide. A female Marsh Harrier hunted the fields beyond.
Continuing from here, we reached the Sierra Nevada (GR1) in mid-afternoon, and after finding accommodation in town headed for the top of the road at the Parador. (The information in the Where to Watch guide is out of date as it is no longer possible to drive over the top of Veleta, although you can higher by minibus.) Around the car park a large mixed flock of Serin, Chaffinch and Rock Sparrows fed, with a few Rock Buntings and White Wagtails for company. Coal Tits, Black Redstarts and Willow Warblers fed in the pines around the Botanical Garden, and a few Wheatears and Blue Rock Thrushes were seen. Nearby, a female and young Spanish Ibex provided a bonus, but the Alpine Accentors could not be found.
Descending the mountain to the Information Centre, we added Mistle Thrush, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker, before returning to the town.
Sunday 15 September
An early morning walk above the Youth Hostel produced Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow and Rock Bunting, as well as Chough, Serin and Black Redstart. Crossbills were heard in the pines on the descent, and Grey Wagtails and a Water Vole on the river further down.
Lunchtime was spent around the Hoya de Guadix (GR4), searching for steppe species. Crag and Sand Martins were over the gorge, and Southern Grey Shrikes and Black Wheatears were widespread. Two Hoopoes were seen, but larks proved more elusive. Eventually, we came upon a flock of Short-toed Larks, amongst which we were able to find two Calandra Larks - how can a bird so common in the spring become so difficult to find in autumn? The bonus here was the only Carrion Crow of the trip.
Our final base was to be Cabo de Gata, Almeria (AL1). Here, the Salinas (AL1c) held the usual variety of grebes, herons, Greater Flamingos, waders, and terns, but the only ducks were Shelducks. Audouin's Gulls were numerous, and later a Mediterranean Gull was found among the gathering gull roost. Around the lighthouse (AL1a), we searched in vain for Trumpeter Finch, but found both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers in the scrub. Black Wheatears were again common. Seawatching was quiet, apart from a small feeding flock of Cory's Shearwaters (with several large fish jumping, too) and a few Balearic Shearwaters.
Monday 16 September
Our final full day began on the Las Almoladeras steppes (AL1b) at first light in the hope of finding Dupont's Lark and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Neither could be found. Crested Larks were numerous, and with them were both Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks. A Spectacled Warbler gave a fleeting glimpse, and a calling Little Owl sat out briefly. A Tawny Pipit called as it flew over as, earlier, had a Meadow Pipit.
Around the lighthouse, the scrub held only Black Wheatear, Sardinian and Willow Warblers and Crested Larks. Seawatching was productive, though. Cory's and Balearic Shearwaters passed steadily in small numbers, with a juvenile Gannet. Four juvenile Shags flew north-west, then two Great Skuas.
Behind us, Bonelli's and Booted Eagles soared over, then disappeared behind the ridge. This prompted us to return to the Salinas to try to find them from the other side. Both species showed very well, with an adult and two juvenile Bonelli's Eagles seen together. Short-toed Eagle and Marsh Harrier also showed well.
Some excellent counts were made on the Salinas. These included 10+ Black-necked Grebes, 1000+ Greater Flamingos, 51 Shelduck, 62 Avocets, 30+ Kentish Plovers, 20+ Little Stints, 20 Spotted Redshanks and 53 Black Terns. A huge flock of Audouin's Gulls numbered over 400, while best of all was a superb, pink-flushed, adult Slender-billed Gull - well worth the wait. Two of the flamingos wore Darvic rings: an adult with a yellow ring (BSCZ) on the right leg, and juvenile with a white ring (1|BTN) on the left leg.
After a quick swim in the Mediterranean, we returned to Las Almoladeras for an evening visit. Another juvenile Bonelli's Eagle was flushed from here, but the only addition to the list was two Golden Plover-type waders flying in the distance. Specific identification could not be confirmed: they definitely were not sandgrouse, but we could not rule out Dotterel. This would have been the 200th species for the trip, so it is particularly frustrating that the identification could not be pinned down.
The day was completed back at the Salinas, where we added Mediterranean Gull, Turnstone and Curlew, and where the gathering flock of Black-headed Gulls easily exceeded 600.
Tuesday 17 September
Left Cabo de Gata at first light to return to Málaga airport, so very few birds seen on the journey: Chough, Blue Rock Thrush and Pallid Swift were the best.
Little Grebe Common and widespread in wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz. Most numerous at Brazo del Este with flocks of over 40 there. Also four at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Great Crested Grebe Widespread in wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, but less numerous than Little Grebe. Also two at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th.
Black-necked Grebe At least three at Laguna de Medina (7th), one at Laguna de Tarelo (8th). More numerous at Cabo de Gata Salinas, where over ten seen (15th and 16th).
Cory's Shearwater Small numbers passing Tarifa on 11th, and Cabo de Gata on 15th and 16th.
Balearic Shearwater Small numbers passing Chipiona, Tarifa and Cabo de Gata
Gannet Small numbers passing most coastal sites
Cormorant Small flocks at sites around Huelva on 6th and at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th
Shag Four young birds passed Cabo de Gata on 16th
Little Bittern One at Laguna Primera de Palos and two at Laguna del Portil, both on 6th
Night Heron Single juveniles at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre in Doñana on 5th and El Rocío on 6th. Numerous in rice fields east of Donana, especially Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este on 7th and 8th.
Squacco Heron Widespread in small numbers in rice fields and associated wetlands around Doñana, Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este
Cattle Egret Widespread and numerous, especially near water. Absent in mountain areas
Little Egret Widespread and numerous around water. Dark phase bird between Villafranco del Guadalquivir and Alfonso XIII on 8th.
Western Reef Heron See under Little Egret for possibility of dark-phase bird.
Grey Heron Widespread and numerous. Absent in mountain areas.
Purple Heron Widespread in small numbers in rice fields and associated wetlands around Doñana, Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este
Black Stork One over La Rocina on 5th, two over Puerto del Bujeo on 10th and one over Sierra de la Plata on 10th.
White Stork Widespread and numerous in Huelva, Sevilla and Cadiz provinces, some flocks numbering over 200 birds.
Glossy Ibis One at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th, 35+ at Brazo de la Torre on 7th, and small numbers at Brazo del Este on 7th and 8th.
Spoonbill Common and widespread in wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz in flocks of up to 80.
Greater Flamingo Numerous at all suitable sites: all Salinas, Laguna de Medina, and Laguna Dulce. Several flocks in excess of 500.
Greylag Goose Four in El Rocio on 4th and 5th, 15 near Brazo del Este on 8th.
Shelduck Present only at Cabo de Gata Salinas, where 51 counted on 16th.
Gadwall Flocks of up to 40 at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz.
Teal Flocks of up to 40 at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, and at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Mallard Widespread and numerous at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz. Otherwise only seen at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Pintail One female at Brazo del Este on 7th.
Garganey One at Brazo del Este on 8th.
Shoveler Flocks of up to 40 at wetlands around Doñana and Cadiz, and at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Marbled Duck At least 9 at Brazo del Este on 7th and 8th, and two at Laguna de Medina on 7th.
Red-crested Pochard Small numbers (maximum 3) at La Rocina, Laguna del Portil, Brazo de la Torre, Brazo del Este and Laguna de Medina.
Pochard Flocks of up to 80 at suitable wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz.
Ferruginous Duck Two females at Laguna del Portil on 6th.
White-headed Duck About 50 at Laguna de Medina, plus small numbers (up to 6) at Laguna del Portil, Laguna de Tarelo, Laguna del Tareje and Laguna Dulce.
Honey Buzzard Over 300 migrating at Puerto del Bujeo on 10th and 30+ over Tarifa Estacion on 11th. Also one near Montejaque on 13th.
Black-shouldered Kite Singles at El Rocio and Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre, both on 5th.
Black Kite Migrating flocks of 60+ at Puerto del Bujeo on 10th and 20+ at Tarifa Estacion on 11th. Otherwise, singles at La Rocina (5th), Laguna del Tareje (9th) and near Granada (15th).
Red Kite Only two singles seen, over Doñana ricefields on 5th and Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th.
Egyptian Vulture Single adults at Sierra de la Plata on 9th and Puerto del Bujeo on 10th, 2 adults and 2 juveniles at Tarifa Estacion on 11th, and adult with juvenile at Puerto del Viento on 14th.
Griffon Vulture Widespread, especially in mountain areas. Largest flock was about 50 on a carcass near Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre. Absent from Almeria.
Short-toed Eagle Singles on most days. Largest count was three at Puerto del Bujeo on 10th.
Marsh Harrier Widespread in small numbers. Largest count was 4 at Brazo del Este on 8th.
Montagu's Harrier Widespread in small numbers. Largest count was 4 at Brazo de la Torre on 7th. Dark morph birds seen at central causeway of Marismas del Odiel on 6th and northern edge of Doñana on 7th.
Sparrowhawk Singles at several locations in mountains. Maximum count was 4 at Sierra de la Plata on 10th.
Buzzard Small numbers (maximum 5) at several sites around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, plus migrating over Puerto del Bujeo on 10th.
Golden Eagle Four adults and one juvenile at Puerto del Viento on 14th.
Booted Eagle Widespread (most commonly seen large raptor). Largest counts were about 10 migrating over Tarifa area on 10th and 11th.
Bonelli's Eagle An adult and two juveniles at Cabo de Gata on 16th, with another juvenile at Los Almoladeras on the same day.
Osprey Singles at Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este on 7th, Brazo del Este (same?) and Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th, and Puerto del Viento on 14th.
Lesser Kestrel Two at Puerto del Bujeo and 7 at Sierra de la Plata on 10th, one male in Ronda on 12th and 13th, and 3 at Montejaque on 13th.
Kestrel Widespread and common. Usually one or two together, maximum count of 6.
Peregrine Singles at Doñana Western Pinewoods on 6th, Brazo del Este on 8th, Sierra de la Plata on 9th, and in Sierra de Grazalema on 11th and 12th.
Red-legged Partridge Frequently seen or heard in mountain areas and occasionally elsewhere. Count of 25+ at Laguna de Tarelo on 9th.
Pheasant One heard calling at La Janda on 10th.
Water Rail Several heard calling at La Rocina (5th), Brazo de la Torre (7th) and Brazo del Este (7th and 8th).
Moorhen Widespread in small numbers at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, and at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Purple Gallinule Widespread in small numbers (maximum 5) at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz.
Coot Sizeable flocks (up to 150) at several lagunas around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz. Also five at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
(Crested Coot) Not found at any sites, despite careful checks through several coot flocks.
Little Bustard Nine flew over Tarifa Beach early morning on 10th.
Oystercatcher Flocks of up to 20 around Huelva on 6th, one at Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th and 11 past Chipiona on 8th.
Black-winged Stilt Widespread and numerous at any suitable wetland. Often the commonest wader.
Avocet Numerous around Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre, Laguna de Medina, Laguna Dulce and the Cabo de Gata Salinas. Maximum count 62 at Cabo de Gata on 16th.
Stone Curlew Heard calling at Brazo de la Torre on 7th.
Collared Pratincole Small numbers around El Rocío on 4th and 5th.
Little Ringed Plover About 20 at El Rocío on 5th. Small numbers at Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este on 7th and 8th.
Ringed Plover Widespread at suitable locations. Numerous only around Huelva on 6th (maximum 80) and Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th (about 40)
Kentish Plover Widespread at all suitable wetlands. Most numerous around Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th (maximum 30+)
Golden Plover Two probables at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Grey Plover Six on central causeway of Marismas del Odiel on 6th and Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th.
Lapwing Widespread, but not particularly numerous, at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, plus one at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Knot At least three on central causeway of Marismas del Odiel on 6th.
Sanderling Small flocks (up to 30) around Huelva on 6th, on Tarifa Beach on 10th and 11th, and at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th.
Little Stint Widespread in small numbers (up to 20) at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva, Cadiz and Cabo de Gata, plus at Laguna Dulce.
Curlew Sandpiper Widespread in small numbers at wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cabo de Gata, plus at Laguna Medina. About 40 at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Dunlin Widespread in small numbers (usually less than ten) wherever other wader flocks present. Over 200 around Huelva on 6th.
Ruff One at La Rocina and 5 at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th, six at El Estero de Domingo Rubio on 6th, and one at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th.
Snipe Small numbers (maximum 2) at most wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, and at Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Black-tailed Godwit At least 150 around Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th, minimum of 80 in Huelva area on 6th, and 20 at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 16th. Otherwise singles at several other wetland sites.
Bar-tailed Godwit Minimum of 80 around Huelva on 6th, two on Tarifa Beach on 10th and two at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th.
Whimbrel Small numbers (maximum 3) at wetlands around Huelva, coastal sites near Cadiz, and on Tarifa Beach on 11th.
Curlew At least 30 around Huelva area on 6th, plus singles at Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th and Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th.
Spotted Redshank One at La Rocina and 10+ at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th. More numerous around Cabo de Gata Salinas, with 20 on 16th.
Redshank Small numbers (up to 10) at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th, Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th, Laguna Dulce on 14th and Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th. Minimum of 80 around Huelva on 6th.
Greenshank Widespread in small numbers (up to 8) at suitable wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, Laguna Dulce and Cabo de Gata Salinas.
Green Sandpiper Present in small numbers (up to 6) at wetlands around Doñana and Huelva, plus two at La Janda on 10th.
Wood Sandpiper Small numbers (up to 8) at Brazo de la Torre and Brazo del Este on 7th and 8th, plus two at La Janda on 10th.
Common Sandpiper Small numbers at wetlands around Doñana (5th), Huelva (6th), plus singles at Brazo del Este on 8th, Playa de Composoto on 9th and Laguna Dulce on 14th.
Turnstone Small numbers (up to 6) around Huelva on 6th, on Tarifa Beach on 11th, and at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th.
Red-necked Phalarope One juvenile well at Laguna Dulce on 14th, associating closely with Curlew Sandpipers.
Arctic Skua One past Matalascañas on 6th and two past Chipiona on 8th.
Great Skua Two past Cabo de Gata lighthouse on 16th.
Mediterranean Gull Singles at central causeway of Marismas del Odiel on 6th, Barbate estuary on 9th, and Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th and 16th.
Black-headed Gull Widespread on coast and at most wetland sites. Large roost at Cabo de Gata Salinas numbered over 1000 on 15th.
Slender-billed Gull Single adult at Cabo de Gata Salinas on 16th.
Audouin's Gull Small numbers (up to 7) at sites around Huelva on 6th, 12+ on Tarifa Beach on 10th, and large numbers at Cabo de Gata Salinas, with over 400 on 16th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Widespread and numerous (up to 200) at most wetland and coastal sites.
Yellow-legged Gull Widespread at most coastal and wetland sites (maximum 150).
Caspian Tern One past Matalascañas and three at central causeway of Marismas del Odiel, both on 6th.
Sandwich Tern Small numbers from most coastal sites, with maximum of 50 around Huelva.
Common Tern Two past Matalascañas on 6th, and one past Chipiona on 8th.
Little Tern Small flocks at coastal sites around Huelva and Cabo de Gata, and at Brazo del Este and Laguna de Medina (maximum 20)
Whiskered Tern Up to two at wetlands around Brazo de la Torre 7th and Brazo del Este on 8th.
Black Tern Small numbers (up to 20) at wetland sites around Huelva, Brazo del Este, Laguna de Medina and Laguna Dulce. More numerous at Cabo de Gata Salinas, where 53 counted on 16th.
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Two at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre on 5th and three over Brazo de la Torre on 7th.
Feral Pigeon Widespread
Woodpigeon Widespread in small numbers. Only sizeable flock (60) at El Rocío on 5th.
Collared Dove Widespread, especially in or near towns. Maximum count six.
Turtle Dove Nine at Laguna de Medina on 7th, and at least eight at La Janda on 10th.
Ring-necked Parakeet Two calling as they flew over in Ronda on 12th.
(Barn Owl) One badly decomposed corpse at Brazo de la Torre on 7th.
Little Owl At least three calling at dusk in El Rocío on 6th, one calling at La Janda on 10th and one at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Short-eared Owl One first year bird on central causeway at Marismas del Odiel on 6th.
Alpine Swift Numerous in mountains around Tarifa, Sierra de Grazalema, and Ronda.
Swift Widespread in small numbers. Maximum 20+ at Sierra de la Plata on 10th.
Pallid Swift Widespread in small numbers. Generally more numerous than above species. Maximum 60+ at Sierra de la Plata on 10th.
White-rumped Swift Two with other swifts at Sierra de la Plata on 10th.
Little Swift At least one with swifts at Sierra de la Plata on 9th.
Kingfisher Seen at most wetland sites around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz, plus on Tarifa Beach on 10th.
Bee-eater Several flocks seen (maximum 50), or more usually heard, high overhead, around Doñana, Tarifa and Sierra de Grazalema areas.
Hoopoe Small numbers at several sites around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz (maximum five), plus at Hoya de Guadix on 15th.
Green Woodpecker Heard only near Grazalema on 12th.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Singles at several sites around Tarifa, Sierra de Grazalema and Ronda.
Calandra Lark Two at Hoya de Guadix on 15th.
Short-toed Lark Small numbers at several sites around Doñana, Cadiz and Tarifa. Larger flock (12+) at Hoya de Guadix on 15th. Several at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Lesser Short-toed Lark At least 10 (out of flock of c. 40) at Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th, and a few at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Crested Lark Widespread and numerous. Several flocks exceeded 20.
Thekla Lark Widespread around Doñana, Sierra de Grazalema and Serranía de Ronda.
Woodlark Heard calling at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th, and one at Sierra Blanquilla on 14th.
Sand Martin Widespread around wetlands and coast, but absent in mountains.
Crag Martin Widespread around Tarifa and in mountains inland, especially in Ronda/Grazalema area.
Swallow Common and widespread, with some larger flocks. Obvious movements on several dates.
Red-rumped Swallow Small numbers (maximum 3) at several sites, including La Rocina (5th), La Rábida (6th), La Janda (10th) and El Bosque (12th).
House Martin Common and widespread, with some larger flocks.
Tawny Pipit Singles at Laguna del Taraje on 9th and Los Almoladeras on 16th, and at least two on Tarifa beach on 10th.
Tree Pipit Heard calling at Laguna de las Madres on 6th.
Meadow Pipit One at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Blue-headed Wagtail Widespread, especially near wetlands and coast (maximum count 15).
Spanish Wagtail At least two of this race (iberiae) at El Rocío on 5th.
Grey Wagtail Small numbers at several sites in mountains, especially near fast flowing streams. Most numerous in El Bosque on 12th. Also on Tarifa Beach on 11th.
White Wagtail Widespread in small numbers. Less numerous than other wagtails when seen together.
Wren Heard, but not seen at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th and near Cartajima on 13th.
Robin One juvenile at picnic site in Los Alcornocales on 11th, then heard calling at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th and near Cartajima on 13th.
(Rufous Bush Robin) One reported by other near Tarifa on 10th.
Nightingale One calling at dusk near El Rocío on 6th.
Black Redstart Common around Sierra de Grazalema, Serranía de Ronda and Sierra Nevada. Absent near coast and in lowlands.
Redstart One female at El Torcal on 4th, and a first winter at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th.
Whinchat Singles at La Rocina on 5th, Matalascañas and Doñana Western pinewoods on 6th, Brazo del Este on 7th and Cabo de Gata Salinas on 15th.
Stonechat Common and widespread. One of the most ubiquitous birds.
Wheatear Singles at Acebuche and Doñana ricefields on 5th, Salinas de Monte Algaida on 8th and Sierra Nevada on 14th. Several around Huelva on 6th, Sierra Nevada on 15th, and Hoya de Guadix on 15th.
Black-eared Wheatear Males at El Torcal on 4th and Doñana western pinewoods on 6th.
Black Wheatear Single at El Torcal on 4th, several around Sierra de Grazalema, Serranía de Ronda, Sierra Nevada, Hoya de Guadix and Cabo de Gata.
Rock Thrush Male at Puerto de las Palomas and pair at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th, female near Cartajima on 13th, and two females on Sierra Nevada on 15th.
Blue Rock Thrush Widespread, and relatively common in mountain areas.
Blackbird Widespread, but never particularly common.
Mistle Thrush Heard calling in pine forest on slopes of Sierra Nevada on 14th.
Cetti's Warbler Common and widespread. One of the most commonly recorded passerines.
Fan-tailed Warbler Common and widespread in wetlands, especially around ricefields. Only record in the mountains was one near El Bosque on 12th.
Reed Warbler Widespread in small numbers in wetlands around Doñana, Huelva and Cadiz.
Melodious Warbler Singles at La Rocina on 5th and La Janda on 10th.
Dartford Warbler Widespread in suitable habitat: scrubby heath and mountains.
Spectacled Warbler One probable adult at Brazo de la Torre on 7th, and one calling at Los Almoladeras on 16th.
Subalpine Warbler Singles at El Torcal on 4th, and Puerto de la Boyar on 12th.
Sardinian Warbler Common and widespread. One of the most commonly recorded passerines.
Whitethroat Singles at El Torcal on 4th, Puerto de la Boyar on 12th and Serranía de Ronda on 13th.
Garden Warbler Single at El Bosque on 12th.
Blackcap Female at Puerto de la Boyar and two males at El Bosque on 12th, and male at Serranía de Ronda on 13th.
Western Bonelli's Warbler Singles at La Rocina on 5th and Serranía de Ronda on 13th.
Chiffchaff Widespread, usually as singles.
Willow Warbler Singles at Brazo del Este on 8th, Puerto de la Boyar (12th), Ronda (13th), Sierra Nevada (14th and 15th), and Cabo de Gata lighthouse (16th).
Firecrest Calling, but not seen, at El Portil on 6th, Puerto del Bujeo on 10th and Los Alcornocales on 11th.
Spotted Flycatcher Widespread in wooded areas. Also in scrub near Cabo de Gata lighthouse on 15th.
Pied Flycatcher Single males at Acebuche on 5th and near Cabo de Gata lighthouse on 15th, and females at Barbate pinewoods on 9th, Los Alcornocales on 11th and El Bosque on 12th.
Long-tailed Tit Small numbers at La Rocina on 5th, El Bosque on 12th and La Jimera on 13th.
Crested Tit Heard calling at Puerto de las Palomas on 12th, near Cartajima on 13th, and at Mirador del Guardia Forestal (Sierra Blanquilla) on 14th.
Coal Tit One at Parador on Sierra Nevada on 14th.
Blue Tit Several in wooded areas, but not common.
Great Tit Several in wooded areas. Most common tit, but certainly not ubiquitous.
Nuthatch Very vocal at Puerto del Bujeo on 10th. Several at sites around Sierra de Grazalema and Serranía de Ronda on 12th and 13th.
Short-toed Treecreeper Singles at La Rocina (5th), Pinar de la Algaida (8th), Los Alcornocales (11th) and Sierra de Grazalema (12th), and several in Barbate pinewoods on 9th.
Penduline Tit At least three at Brazo del Este on 8th.
Southern Grey Shrike Widespread, except around Tarifa area, usually as singles.
Woodchat Shrike Single juveniles near El Torcal on 4th, at La Rocina and Doñana ricefields on 5th, and La Janda on 10th. Only adult was in Doñana western pinewoods on 6th.
Jay Widespread around Tarifa, Grazalema, Ronda and Sierra Nevada.
Azure-winged Magpie Numerous in pinewoods around El Rocío and western Doñana areas.
Magpie Numerous around Doñana. Also on slopes of Sierra Nevada on 15th.
Chough Widespread in mountains around Grazalema, Ronda and Sierra Nevada, including flocks of over 100 around Ronda.
Carrion Crow One at Hoya de Guadix on 15th.
Raven Several small flocks, especially around Doñana, Tarifa and Cabo de Gata.
Spotless Starling Widespread. Flocks usually small (<50), except around Huelva on 6th (300+).
House Sparrow Widespread and numerous. Several flocks of well over 100 birds.
Tree Sparrow Heard at Pinar de la Algaida on 7th.
Rock Sparrow At least 6 in Ronda gorge on 13th, 60+ on Sierra Nevada on 14th (with finches), and 15th.
Common Waxbill At least six at Brazo del Este on 8th.
Chaffinch At least one in Barbate pinewoods on 9th, then widespread around Grazalema, Ronda, Sierra Nevada and Hoya de Guadix.
Serin Small numbers at Puerto del Bujeo on 10th, Puerto de las Palomas and Puerto de la Boyar on 12th, and Hoya de Guadix on 15th. Over 60 on Sierra Nevada on 14th and 15th, with Rock Sparrows and other finches.
Greenfinch Singles at La Rocina on 5th, Puerto del Bujeo on 10th and Puerto de las Boyar on 12th.
Goldfinch Widespread and numerous. Only sizeable flocks were around Doñana ricefields on 5th, Tarifa and La Janda areas on 10th, and Sierra Nevada on 15th.
Linnet Widespread and numerous, often in flocks of up to 40.
Crossbill Several, some in song, around Puerto de la Boyar on 12th. Also heard at Mirador del Guardia Forestal (Sierra Blanquilla) and Sierra Nevada on 14th.
Hawfinch Several at Puerto de la Boyar on 12th.
Cirl Bunting Small numbers at several sites around Sierra de Grazalema on 12th and Serranía de Ronda on 13th.
Rock Bunting Widespread in small numbers in mountains around Grazalema, Ronda and Sierra Nevada.
Corn Bunting One at Brazo del Este on 8th, several at Laguna del Taraje on 9th, and flocks of about 20 on Tarifa Beach and at La Janda on 10th and at Puerto del Viento on 14th.