For the third year in a row I found myself back in Andalusia, for a birder this is a no brainer. The area around Seville is simply fantastic for birding, with so many prime habitats. I stayed in Dos Hermanas, an area just east of Seville, for a week with my wife and allocated three days for birding from the 9th-11th of November with Luis of Andalusian Birding Holidays, a guide I have used before.
The weather during the week was basically fine 20-24⁰C with two cloudy days and some rain. No doubt the non-birding highlight came on Tuesday night as we watched one DJ Trump become President of the USA. However back to the birding; we went to three sites in the Seville–Cadiz area, which of course included Donana National Park, one of the greatest birding areas in Europe, especially in winter.
9/11/16: GREEN CORRIDOR OF THE RIO GUADIAMAR
The day starts sunny, but it quickly became cloudy, although thankfully the rain stays away and the temperature rises to a pleasant 20⁰C.
The visit to this area consisted of a pleasant walk along the paths on either side of the Rio Guadiamar, whose banks consisted of a mixed woodland of Poplars, Wild Olive, Eucalyptus, Pistacia Lentiscus and Ash trees. The surrounding areas are dedicated mainly to agriculture, interspersed with Holm Oak.
The highlights of the walk along the riverbanks were: Wryneck, Woodlark, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Spoonbill, Black-winged Kite, Booted Eagle [pale form], Green Woodpecker, Common Waxbill, Azure-winged Magpie, Red Kite, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti’s Warbler and of course all the usual suspects that you would find in this type of habitat.
The sky began to get very dark and heavy rain looked likely, so we walked back to the car and drove back to Seville. I was looking forward to a nice warm bath.
10/11/16: CADIZ, BAHIA de CADIZ and SURROUNDING AREAS [Chiclana de La Fronterra, Puerto Real and Puerto de Santa Maria]
The weather today was sunny with a mild NW wind, with temperatures around 22⁰C.
The golf courses of Chiclana are located in a very urbanized area, dominated by Pine and Pistascia lentiscus, accompanied by several ornamental species of shrubs and trees. In the Bahia de Cadiz NP, the marsh is the main habitat, dominated by halophytic plants. The rhythm of the tides and the artificial management of the habitat have defined the distribution and number of birds that can be seen in the bay. Economic activities such as fish farms and salt production also influence the variety of birds around the protected areas.
The main target today is one of the rarest birds in Europe, but it can be found in the Cadiz area due to a re-colonisation plan by the Spanish Authorities and nature conservation groups in Spain. Surprisingly in the winter months one of the bird’s favourite habitats is the golf courses in the Chiclana urbanization. There are several golf courses in the area, but after searching for twenty minutes, we eventually found the birds at the edge of a course full of early golfers. At last we came face to face [literally] with the Bald Ibis. This penchant for golf courses is both a protector and a danger, already one bird has been killed and one badly injured. They will never win a beauty contest, however they have a certain charm.
After a light breakfast we then headed to the Bahia de Cadiz NP, a huge area, to search for several trip targets. Criss-crossing the bay area we stopped at several points and picked up the following, amongst many others: Audouin’s Gull, Caspian Tern, Greater Flamingo, Short-toed Eagle, Osprey, Whimbrel, Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Crested Lark, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Turnstone, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Sandwich Tern & Crag Martin.
11/11/16: ISLA MAYOR RICE FIELDS/DEHESA de ABAJO/PUEBLA del RIO
Sunny day with mild NW wind and temperature high of 22⁰C
The rice fields of Isla Mayor and La Puebla del Rio are a very rich habitat, which attracts and maintains huge numbers of bird species during most of the year. The agriculture of rice maintains a large number of invertebrates, which are the food source for the birds.
In the Dehesa de Abajo visitor centre the adjoining reservoir is a refuge for thousands of waterfowl, especially when autumn and winter are very dry and Donana and its surroundings have little water.
Part of the huge wildfowl flock in Dehesa de Abajo
The number of birds in the rice fields is truly astonishing; everywhere we turned birds were in the sky flying from one field to another depending on where the cutting was taking place. Unexpected was the large number of Common Cranes in the fields.
The tracks that run along the edge of the rice fields allow you to use your vehicle as a mobile hide, very advantageous when you want to get close to the birds. The following is a summary of some of the birds seen:Black Stork, White Stork, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Common Waxbill, Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, Penduline Tit, Bluethroat, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Serin, Booted Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Red-crested Pochard, Kingfisher, Black-winged Kite, Yellow-legged Gull, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spoonbill, Common Stonechat, Greater Flamingo, Crested Lark, Common Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Kestrel, Greenshank and a few distant unidentified warblers that appeared suddenly out of the reeds and then disappeared as quickly.
Having been here in September and November, both periods offer some fantastic birding but if I had a preference it would be September, due to the huge numbers of birds that go through on migration. However, with Donana and surroundings as a backdrop, any trip will be rewarding at any time of year.
I would like once again to thank Luismi for a superb three days in the field and his homemade delicacies that we ate en route.
|1||Red-legged Partridge||Alectoris rufa||Several seen in Donana|
|2||Red-crested Pochard||Netta rufina||Large numbers in Donana|
|3||Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus roseus||Large numbers in Donana|
|4||Black Stork||Ciconia nigra||Several seen in Donana|
|5||White Stork||Ciconia ciconia||Large numbers in Donana|
|6||Northern Bald Ibis||Geronticus eremita||20 plus seen in Chiclana|
|7||Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus||Large numbers in Donana|
|8||Eurasian Spoonbill||Platalea leucorodia||30 plus in Donana/Cadiz|
|9||Night-Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax||Several seen in Donana|
|10||Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||Large numbers in Donana|
|11||Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea||Several seen in Donana|
|12||Great White Egret||Ardea alba||4 seen in Donana|
|13||Little Egret||Egretta garzetta||Large numbers in Donana|
|14||Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo||Several seen in Donana|
|15||Osprey||Pandion haliaetus||1 seen at Cadiz|
|16||Black-winged Kite||Elanus caeruleus||4 seen in Donana area|
|17||Red Kite||Milvus milvus||Several seen in Donana|
|18||Black Kite||Milvus migrans||4 seen in Donana|
|19||Griffon Vulture||Gyps fulvus||20 plus in Dos Hermanas|
|20||Short-toed Snake Eagle||Circaetus gallicus||1 seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|21||Western Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus||Several seen in Donana|
|22||Hen Harrier||Circus cyaneus||1 male seen in Donana|
|23||Common Buzzard||Buteo buteo||Several seen|
|24||Booted Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus||3 birds seen Donana/Cadiz|
|25||Common Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus||Several seen in Donana|
|26||Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus||1 bird near Isla Major|
|27||Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus||Several seen|
|28||Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra||Common in Donana|
|29||Common Crane||Grus grus||Large numbers in Donana|
|30||Oystercatcher||Haematopus ostralegus||Large numbers in Bahia de Cadiz|
|31||Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus||Large numbers in Donana|
|32||Avocet||Recurvirostra avosetta||Large numbers in Bahia de Cadiz|
|33||Lapwing||Vanellus vanellus||Large numbers in Donana|
|34||Grey Plover||Pluvialis squatarola||1 bird in Bahia de Cadiz|
|35||Ringed Plover||Charadrius hiaticula||Large numbers in Bahia de Cadiz|
|36||Common Snipe||Gallinago gallinago||Several seen in Donana|
|37||Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa||Several seen in Donana|
|38||Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus||1 bird in Bahia de Cadiz|
|39||Redshank||Tringa totanus||Large numbers in Donana|
|40||Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia||Several seen in Donana|
|41||Green Sandpiper||Tringa ochropus||Several seen in Donana|
|42||Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola||3 birds on Bahia de Cadiz|
|43||Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos||Several seen in Donana|
|44||Turnstone||Arenaria interpres||Several seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|45||Sanderling||Calidris alba||Several seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|46||Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea||Several seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|47||Dunlin||Calidris alpina||Large numbers in Donana|
|48||Slender-billed Gull||Larus genei||Several seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|49||Black-headed Gull||Larus ridibundus||Large numbers in Donana|
|50||Audouin’s Gull||Larus audouinii||20 plus seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|51||Yellow-legged Gull||Larus cachinnans||Large numbers in Donana|
|52||Lesser Black-backed Gull||Larus fuscus||Large numbers in Donana|
|53||Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia||20 plus seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|54||Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis||200 plus seen in Bahia de Cadiz|
|55||Wood Pigeon||Columba palumbus||Common in most areas|
|56||Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto||30 plus seen|
|57||Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis||3 in Donana|
|58||Hoopoe||Upupa epops||5 seen in different areas|
|59||Wryneck||Jynx torquilla||1 seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|60||Lesser Sp. Woodpecker||Dendrocopos minor||3 seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|61||Green Woodpecker||Picus viridis||1 seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|62||Southern Grey Shrike||Lanius meridionalis||1 seen at Dehesa de Abajo|
|63||Azure-winged Magpie||Cyanopica cooki||30+ seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|64||Common Magpie||Pica pica||Several seen|
|65||Jackdaw||Corvus monedula||Several seen|
|66||Common Raven||Corvus corax||4 seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|67||Great Tit||Parus major||4 seen at the Rio Guadiamar|
|68||Penduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus||Several seen in Donana|
|69||Crested Lark||Galerida cristata||Common in suitable habitat|
|70||Wood Lark||Lullula arborea||1 seen at Rio Guadiamar|
|71||Swallow||Hirundo rustica||10+ in Dehesa de Abajo|
|72||Eurasian Crag Martin||Ptyonoprogne rupestris||100+ in Cadiz|
|73||Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti||Several seen in Donana|
|74||Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus||2 seen at Rio Guadiamar|
|75||Common Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus collybita||Common in all areas|
|76||Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus scirpaceus||1 seen at Rio Guadiamar|
|77||Zitting Cisticola||Cisticola juncidis||Several seen in Donana|
|78||Eurasian Blackcap||Sylvia atricapilla||Common in all areas|
|79||Spotless Starling||Sturnus unicolor||Common in all areas|
|80||Blackbird||Turdus merula||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|81||Song Thrush||Turdus philomelos||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|82||Mistle Thrush||Turdus viscivorus||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|83||Robin||Erithacus rubecula||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|84||Bluethroat||Luscinia svecica||1 bird seen in Donana|
|85||Black Redstart||Phoenicurus ochruros||Common in all areas|
|86||Stonechat||Saxicola rubicola||Several seen in Donana|
|87||House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||Common in all areas|
|88||Spanish Sparrow||Passer hispaniolensis||Large numbers in Donana|
|89||Tree Sparrow||Passer montanus||Large numbers in Donana|
|90||Dunnock||Prunella modularis||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|91||White Wagtail||Motacilla alba alba||Large numbers in Donana|
|92||Meadow Pipit||Anthus pratensis||Several seen in Donana|
|93||Chaffinch||Fringilla coelebs||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|94||Serin||Serinus serinus||Common in all areas|
|95||Greenfinch||Carduelis chloris||Common in all areas|
|96||Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis||Common in all areas|
|97||Linnet||Carduelis cannabina||Common in all areas|
|98||Bullfinch||Pyrrhula pyrrhula||Several seen in suitable habitat|
|99||Corn Bunting||Miliaria calandra||Large numbers in Donana|