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TRIP REPORTS. MAY 2005.

1st May. Today was the first of three days that I will be guiding Stuart Emmerson, Jane Spick and their friend Brenda, all from Nottingham.
This is their first time in Donana so we spent the first day visiting some of the sites and centres in the southern part of the region.
Our first stop was at El Rocio marshes, where we saw Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Ruff, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Collared Pratincoles, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Cetti's and Great Reed Warblers, Barn Swallows and Black Kites.
Our next stop was at La Rocina, where Purple and Squacco Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Marsh Harriers, Griffon Vultures, Serins, Nightingales, Tree Sparrows, a Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstarts, Woodchat Shrikes and Savi's warblers were found.
A picnic lunch, followed by a visit to some of the hides at El Acebuche, produced Iberian Magpies, Little-ringed Plovers, Little Grebes, White Storks, Pied Flycatchers, Crested Tits, Iberian Chiffchaffs and a Green Woodpecker.
We ended up touring the open fields, pastures and scrubland of Los Guayules area. Here we saw Corn Buntings, Stonechats, Red-legged Partridges, Booted Eagles, Southern Grey Shrikes, Zitting Cisticolas and Northern Wheatears.

2nd & 3rd May. Two more days with Stuart Emmerson, Jane Spick and Brenda.
On the 2nd we followed my usual route along the Corredor Verde, Dehesa de Pilas, Dehesa de Abajo and the northern marshes. The birds recorded included 5 Black-shouldered Kites, Red Kites, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, Little Owls, Avocets, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Squacco, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Common, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Purple Swamp-hens, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns and Griffon Vultures.
On the 3rd, we began at Niebla Castle, where the Lesser Kestrels gave a good display. Close by we also saw Montagu's Harriers, Hoopoes, Common and Pallid Swifts, Serins and Red-legged Partridges.
At the Laguna Balestrera there were Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers, White Storks, Zitting Cisticolas, Cetti's Warblers, Bee-eaters and a male Black-eared Wheatear.
We then drove to the Laguna El Portil and found Great Crested, Little and Black-necked Grebes (including one partial and one fully albino B-n Grebes), Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards and two Ferruginous Ducks.
Our next stop was at the Marismas de Odiel and almost the first bird we spotted was a female Red-necked Phalarope in breeding plumage, feeding with a group of Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins in a small lagoon near the visitors centre. A great Reed Warbler was also seen at the lagoon.
In some disused salinas (salt-pans) we found a good number of Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Little Stints, Sanderlings and Marsh Harriers.
Elsewhere on the marshes we saw Curlews, Whimbrels, Purple Herons, Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Sandwich, Little and Black Terns, Audouin's Gulls, Collared Pratincoles and Northern Wheatears.
Our last stop of the day was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we added Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, Lapwings and Red-knobbed Coots to our list.

4th May. On tour with me today were Henry and Beatrice Schober from Hamburg, Germany and Tom and Liz Williams from Ashford in Kent. We headed first for the Corredor Verde, passing through the forest of Villamanrique and seeing Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Crested Larks, Ravens and Black Kites.
At the Corredor Verde we saw Red and Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, a Cuckoo, Melodious Warblers, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Tree Pipits, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallows and Corn Buntings.
There was not much bird activity in the Dehesa de Pilas, but we did find Spanish Sparrows and Northern Wheatears, along with many of the previously mentioned species.
We then visited the Isla Mayor rice fields, the "reedbeds", the Cañada de Rianzuela and the Dehesa de Abajo. At these sites there were Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Avocets, a Mute Swan (SR), Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Black-winged Stilts, Greylay Geese, a Ruddy Shelduck (SR), Shovelers, Gadwalls, Whiskered, Black and Gull-billed Terns, a Little Owl, Reed Warblers and Jackdaws.
The northern marsh area is now very dry, as we are going through the driest winter and spring for over 40 years. Water only exists in a few places and the birds have given up hope of breeding in this area. Perhaps the flooding of the rice fields will give some birds the opportunity of a late breeding season in that area. However, we did manage good numbers of Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons, Glossy Ibis, Red-crested Pochards, Purple Swamp-hens, Yellow Wagtails, Great Reed Warblers, Greater Short-toed Larks, Marsh Harriers, Griffon Vultures and Short-toed Eagles.
# SR = Spanish rarity.

6th May. My tour today was with Robin Priscott from Riviera, Costa del Sol, his sons Simon and Philip and his friend Terry.
Our tour began at the Corredor Verde, where we saw White Storks, 4 Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Ravens, Woodchat Shrikes, Bee-eaters, Corn Buntings, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts, Serins, Melodious Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers and Black-crowned Night Herons.
Elsewhere, during the day, we recorded Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Purple and Squacco Herons, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens, a Mute Swan, Curlew Sandpipers, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Dunlins, Ringed and Little-ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Collared Pratincoles, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Red-crested Pochards, Pintails, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Little Owls, Turtle Doves, Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Yellow Wagtails, Spanish Sparrows, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, a Cuckoo, Griffon Vultures, Common Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Red Kites and Short-toed Eagles.

7th May. With me today were Tony and Jane Armsby from Estepona and David Wood from Scotland.
The first site we visited was the "egrets' roost". Here we found Common Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Ravens, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks and Corn Buntings. David had just come down from Extremadura, where he had failed to find Black-shouldered Kites and was hoping that he would see one in Donana. I drove into the Corredor Verde and found two within a minute. We also found 3 Melodious Warblers, another species he had failed to find in Extremadura. I then drove on to the Vado de Quema, where another Black-shouldered Kite put on a great hunting display, just 100 metres away. From the bridge over the Rio Guadiamar we had excellent prolonged views of a male Penduline Tit feeding, just 30 metres from our position. Common Swifts and both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows were also recorded here.
I then drove to the Dehesa de Pilas, hoping to find sandgrouse, but we were out of luck and had to settle for Yellow Wagtails, White Storks, Spanish Sparrows and 5 Whinchats.
As we crossed over the Entremuros we met John Johns,who was with me on a tour in November and is back in the region for a few days. He was having trouble trying to identify a group of about 60 birds in the reedbeds and asked for my help. As soon as I saw the birds I was able to tell him that they were Golden Bishops (Euplectes afer), which are members of the weaverbird family.
At the Isla Mayor and the Dehesa de Abajo we saw Little and Cattle Egrets, Squacco Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Little Grebes a Mute Swan, a little Owl and both Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns.