I set out at ridiculous o clock this morning with one species in mind the White Headed Duck. I particularly wanted to see this species not only because it was a duck, but it is at the centre of a highly controversial subject which has resulted in the Ruddy Duck being almost eradicated from the UK (some males still exist). Fears of hybridisation with the White Headed Duck threatening its existence is the heart of the matter!
I had a few places to visit but my initial drive was over two hours away south of Seville and I definitely wanted to miss the crazy rush hour through Seville. There were Black kites along the later parts of the route in groups of up to forty birds flying low and then thermalling!
The first site I visited was a group of pits Complejo Endorreico de Espera which were well signposted from Espera. The track down to Laguna Hondilla was a bit tricky but from then on it was a 1000m walk to the two other lagoons Salada and Dulce de la Zorrilla. The walk was very pleasant with a couple of hides which had not been maintained for a while. There were plenty of ducks on the lagoons but sadly no White Headed.
My next stop was at the Salinas de Bonanza between Sanlucar and Algaida. I met a couple from the UK and spent some time birding along the vast complex of salt pans. The hi-light were two Osprey one who more successful at catching lunch than the other!
Mind you the Yellow Legged Gulls had something to say about their presence chasing one Osprey off the salt pans! Black Headed and Slender Billed Gull were also represented.
There were very few duck on the pans Shelduck, Shoveler and Mallard were seen in double figures but no White Headed who winter in the area. There were also plenty of shorebirds Redshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Black Winged Stilt and Avocet There was an abandoned gravel pit at the far end of La Algaida which was within Donana National Park that may appeal more to this species. The afternoon was moving on so I decided to take a look before I made my journey back to El Rocio which is only some 50k away as the crow flies!
The hide was 100m from the car-park and straight away amongst some fifteen or so Garganey was a couple of male White-Headed Duck flanked by females. Fantastic! I snapped away although the birds were a fair distance away and then scanned the pit for Ferruginous Duck amongst the Pochard and maybe a Marbled Duck. I was not successful on either but did spy some Black Crowned Night Heron in a tree overhanging the lagoon.
Not a bad end to another day. I am half way through my trip already!!