Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Spain - Donana National Park - Birds everywhere!

Sunday was a travel day although it did not take too long to get to El Rocio Donana. I arrived at the hotel which is situated in an old style American Western setting including sand but instead of horses tied up outside the saloon there were cars and people everywhere. The place was rocking with local people and this happens every Sunday! The rest of the week the village is almost a ghost town with fabulous views overlooking a lagoon filled with birds including Flamingo and Black Winged Stilt.

Monday I set out early making my way through Donana National Park to Jose Antonio Valverde visitor centre where I could get hold of maps and information on the best places to see birds! In 1957 Jose Valverde brothers were responsible for convincing the Spanish government to protect the area “For the sake of mankind” as the area was a vital stop off point for migrating birds. The rest speaks for itself there were birds everywhere.

Hirundines filled the skies wherever I went and at this rate it won’t be long before they reach the shores of the UK. The afternoon saw a non-stop procession of Swift filling the skies. They were clearly on a mission to get somewhere! What an incredible sight!

I have never seen so many ducks, the majority were Shoveler with pockets of Teal, Red Crested Pochard were present in groups of forty plus. I found a few Pintail and Mallard were under every clump of reed!

Glossy Ibis were also a common sight moving between each feeding area in small groups. White stork were nesting on every pylon and a couple of Black Stork were found in a field.

 There must have been around ten thousand Greater Flamingos. I sat and admired the activity of a small group of birds head waving whilst performing a huddled procession which was totally ignored by the remaining thousands of birds most of whom were resting!

There were a few gulls I happened upon a Whiskered Tern which happily did a fly past for the camera!

A Yellow Wagtail race iberia chirped away during short flights between the fence and the submerged foliage.

Shorebirds filled the channels with over two hundred Green Sandpipers in one place, small groups of Greenshank, Redshank and an abundance of Black Winged Stilt. I’m certain I missed some species as my telescope was at full range with a head on wind to contend with at times. Avocet were the last on this list.

Finding my two target birds Marbled Duck and Red Knobbed Coot proved to be beyond my grasp for today anyway! What an amazing place and migration has not got up to full speed yet! Roll on tomorrow and the return of Wifi woo hoo!

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