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Trip Reports. May 2006.

1st May. Today was my 6th day with Reg Cox, David Roberts, Ian Kilshaw, John Collens, Ray Edwards, Peter Wilkinson, Anne Clark and Anita Evans, a group of 8 birders from the Oxford local RSPB group. The group have been with me since the 25th of April and the previous reports can be found in the April Trip Reports.
The first site we visited was the castle at Niebla, to see the Lesser Kestrels, which put on a good display for us, There were also Common and Pallid Swifts, Spotless Starlings, Jackdaws, Goldfinches and, strangely, a Gull-billed Tern seen flying over the castle.
We the drove to the Laguna El Portil, seeing Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and 2 male Montagu's Harriers on the way. The lagoon was very quiet and we only managed to see Common Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested and Little Grebes, a Purple Heron, Hoopoes, Barn Swallows and Reed Warblers.
Our next stop was at the Marismas del Río Piedras and even before stopping the van I had spotted a Caspian Tern sitting on a mudbank. We also found Sandwich, Little and Black Terns, Dunlins, Whimbrels, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones, Cormorants, Little and Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills, Yellow-legged Gulls, Woodchat Shrikes, Sardinian Warblers, Whinchats and 2 Rollers.
We moved on to La Ribera and added Redshanks, Greenshanks, Grey Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Bee-eaters and Southern Grey Shrikes to our list.
Most of the afternoon was spent at the Marismas del Odiel, finding Black-headed and LBB Gulls, Audouin's Gulls, Sanderlings, Kentish Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Red-crested Pochards, a Red-knobbed Coot, Greater Flamingos, Marsh Harriers and Red-rumped Swallows.
Our last stop of the day was at the Laguna Primera de Palos. Here we saw, along with many of the previously mentioned species, Purple Swamp-hens, Collared Doves, Black-billed Magpies and Zitting Cisticolas.

2nd May. This was the last of the 7 days for the RSPB group from Oxford and they decided that there were several target species that they particularly wanted to see that we had not yet recorded, namely Collared Praticoles, Squacco Herons and Marbled Ducks. We began birding at the Raya Real and found Tree Sparrows, Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Buntings and Red-legged Partridges. We then moved on to a small waterscrape where there were Ringed and Little-ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Common Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts and White Storks.
Our next stop was the "turf farm", a fairly reliable site for Collared Pratincoles, and we were not disappointed, with about 50 birds showing very well. There were also Cattle Egrets and Greater Short-toed Larks.
At the Entremuros we found another target bird, a pair of Squacco herons. One bird, in full breeding plumage, was perched on the railings of the bridge over the Brazo de la Torre and thanks to the fact that no traffic passed for over 5 minutes, I was able to get the van to within 10 metres of the bird, giving great views to everyone. A nearby Black-crowned Night Heron was an added bonus.
We stopped at the Cañada de Rianzuella for an hour, looking for Marbled Ducks, but unfortunately, this species continued to elude us. However, we did see Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Bee-eaters, a male Garganey, 4 White-headed Ducks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Whiskered, Black and Gull-billed Terns, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos and a Red-knobbed Coot.
We then drove to the Dehesa de Pilas and saw hundreds of Spanish Sparrows, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts, Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers, 4 Short-toed Eagles, Ravens and Griffon Vultures
We spent the last hour of the day watching a Black-shouldered Kite family at the Corredor Verde, where the young kites have now left the nest.
I returned the group to Sevilla airport at 7pm for their flight back to Stanstead.
During this specially prepared packaged tour the group had enjoyed 7 full days of birding and had recorded over 150 species, with numerous lifers for each of the members.
Information on my future planned packaged birding holidays can be found on the appropriate page by clicking HERE.

4th May. Today's tour was with Harry and Amy Abbott, Paul and Wendy Howard and Brian and Carol Thomas, all from the town of Monda in Málaga province. We began at the Raya Real, finding Iberian Magpies, Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes, Hoopoes, Crested Larks and White Storks. A few Griffon Vultures circled over a nearby forest.
We then visited a small pool near Villamanrique and saw Black-winged Stilts, Snipe, Common Sandpipers and Little-ringed Plovers.
We drove through the forest of Los Labrados en-route to the Corredor Verde and saw numerous Black Kites, Common Buzzards, Ravens and Spotted Flycatchers.
In the Corredor Verde we found a few Black-shouldered Kites, a Short-toed Eagle, Kestrels, Bee-eaters, Greenfinches, Serins, Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then visited the "turf farm" to see the Collared Pratincoles that often roost there.
At the Entremuros there were two Squacco Herons and a small flock of Spoonbills.
The Gravel pit near the Venta del Cruce produced Moorhens, Little Grebes and 3 Red-knobbed Coots.
There were Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Avocets, Gull-billed and Black Terns and several White-headed Ducks at the Cañada de Rianzuela.
We spent the afternoon in the northern marshes, finding Marsh Harriers, a Little Owl, Greater Flamingos, Lapwings, Ruff, Dunlins, Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered Terns, Yellow Wagtails, Spotless Starlings, Greater Short-toed Larks and both Savi's and Great Reed Warblers.

5th May. This was my second day with Harry and Amy Abbott, Paul and Wendy Howard and Brian and Carol Thomas from Monda, Málaga.
Our first stop today was at the El Acebuche centre so that the group could get some close-up photos of the Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies.
We then drove to Niebla, to see and photograph the Lesser Kestrels that live in the ancient castle. At Niebla there were also Jackdaws, Ravens, White Storks, Goldfinches and Common Swallows. Just outside of the town we stopped to look for Montagu's Harriers and found 2 males and a female soaring and hunting over their territories. We also saw and photographed Crested Larks, Hoopoes.

We then visited Las Doblas, finding Black-winged Stilts, Purple Swamp-hens, Little-ringed Plovers, Purple Herons, Corn Buntings, Great Reed Warblers, White Wagtails, Common Waxbills, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Buzzards and 2 Little Bitterns.
We ended the tour in the Corredor Verde where we saw Serins, Greenfinches, Woodchat Shrikes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Great Crested and Little Grebes and a Nightingale.

Little Bittern. © John H Johns.



6th May. Today's tour included David Hinton, his wife and two friends from Sotogrande, Málaga and Dick and Pat Prime from the UK. We bagan at the White Stork nesting colony at Villamanrique before driving through the forest to the Corredor Verde, seeing Woodchat Shrikes, Iberian Magpies and Black Kites on the way.
At the Corredor Verde we saw several Black-shouldered Kites, Common Buzzards, Booted Eagles, a male Montagu's Harrier, Hoopoes, a Cetti's warbler, a Nightingale, Great Tits, Greenfinches, Serins, Tree Sparrows, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Little and Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.
We stopped at the "turf farm" and saw about 40 Collared Pratincoles. Not far away, at the Dehesa de Pilas, we saw 100's of Spanish Sparrows and Bee-eaters.
At various sites in the Isla Mayor we found 5 White-headed Ducks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebes, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Spoonbills, Grey Herons and Whiskered Terns.
Four Red-knobbed Coots, Little Grebes and a Kingfisher were seen at the regular gravel pit.
In the afternoon we visited the northern marshes. At the Lucio del Lobo there were Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Curlew Sandpipers, with 100's of each species being present. Also at the lucio were 5 Slender-billed Gulls Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Greater Flamingos, Gull-billed Terns 19 Little Stints and a Little Owl.
At the J.A. Valverde Centre there were Purple Herons, Squacco Herons, Great Reed Warblers, Glossy Ibis, Red-rumped Swallows and 2 Little Bitterns.
There were 2 more Little Bitterns, Black Terns, Black-necked Grebes, Marsh Harriers, Purple Swamp-hens, Yellow Wagtails and a Savi's Warbler at the Caño de Guadiamar.

7th May. My tour today was with the same group of four birders from Sotogrande that were with me yesterday.
Today we concentrated on the sites at the western end of the region and the first site visited was the Laguna Primera de Palos. Although the lagoon was short on numbers of birds we still managed to find Shovelers, Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, a Red-knobbed Coot, Purple Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets and Whiskered Terns.
We moved on to the Río Tinto at La Rábida and saw Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Dunlins, Yellow-legged Gulls, Grey Herons and Cattle Egrets.
Things were also quiet at the Laguna El Portil and we only managed to add Great Crested and Little Grebes, Black Terns, Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, Zitting Cisticolas, Reed Warblers and Pallid Swifts to our list.
An incoming (almost full) tide at the Marismas del Río Piedras and at La Ribera stopped us seeing some of the species I had hoped for, but Curlew Sandpipers and Grey Plovers (both in full breeding plumage) were reasonable compensation. We also recorded White Storks, Yellow Wagtails, Crested Larks, Southern Grey Shrikes, Sardinian Warblers, Iberian Magpies and a male Montagu's Harrier.
The rest of the day was spent at the Marismas del Odiel, where we saw Common and Spotted Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwits, Red Knots, Kentish Plovers, Cormorants, LBB Gulls, Audouin's Gulls, Common Shelducks and Marsh Harriers.

8th May. With me today were David and Amanda Mason, Gordon and Jill Rickers and John and Penny Britten, all from the UK, and Richard and Margaret Alcorn from Melbourne, Australia. We began in the Corredor Verde and found 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Common Buzzards, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Green and Goldfinches, Serins, a Nightingale, a Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrikes, Squacco, Grey and Black-crowned Night Herons, White Storks and Little Egrets.
At the "turf farm" we saw Ringed Plovers and Collared Pratincoles.
There were White-headed Ducks, Shovelers, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Little Grebes, Cattle Egrets, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Bee-eaters, Jackdaws and a Southern Grey Shrike at the Dehesa de Abajo /Cañada de Rianzuela.
Three Red-knobbed Coots and a Kingfisher were spotted at the "gravel pit" and several Spoonbills were seen at the Entremuros.
At the Lucio del Lobo we saw Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Ruff and Greater Flamingos, whilst at the JAV Centre there were Glossy Ibis, Purple Herons and Great Reed Warblers.
There were plenty of birds along the Caño de Guadiamar and we recorded Griffon Vultures, a Short-toed Eagle, a Red Kite, Ravens, Marsh Harriers, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, 3 Little Bitterns, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, Black and Whiskered Terns and a Savi's Warbler.

9th May. With me on today's tour were John and Carol Dargue, from Exeter and David and amanda Mason and John and Penny Britten, two of the couples who were also on yesterday's tour. Today we went to the west of the region, starting near Niebla where we saw two male Montagu's Harriers, Ravens, Buzzards, White Storks and Crested Larks. At Niebla castle we spent 30 minutes photographing the Lesser Kestrels, Common Swifts and Spotless Starlings.
We then moved on to the Laguna Balestera and found Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Purple Herons, Little Egrets, Red-rumped Swallows and Stonechats.
Our next stop was at San Juan del Puerto, where there were Whinchats, Yellow Wagtails, Woodchat Shrikes, Redshanks, Dunlins and Marsh Harriers.
We saw Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Whimbrels, Spoonbills, Common Sandpipers, Cattle Egrets and Yellow'legged Gulls at La Rábida and added Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Hoopoes, Pallid Swifts and a Little Bittern.
At the Marismas del Río Piedras we saw Cormorants, Sandwich and Little Terns, Iberian Magpies Sardinian Warblers and a Southern Grey Shrike.
We ended the day at the Marismas del Odiel, finding Curlew Sandpipers, Grey Plovers, Red Knots, Bar-tailed Godwits (all in summer plumage), Kentish Plovers, Greater Flamingos, Audouin's and Black-headed Gulls, Purple Swamp-hens, Common Shelducks and a Red-knobbed Coot.

10th May. Today's tour included David and Amanda Mason (3rd day), John and Penny Britten (3rd day), John and Carol Dargue (2nd day) and Colin and Kath Stennett. We began the birding at the Jardines Botanico de Buitrago near Aznalcollar, a site that I don't often include on my tours. Within a 15 minutes we had seen 2 Nightingales, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, Woodchat Shrikes, Goldrinches, Greenfinches, Serins, Crested Larks, Grey Herons and a Black-crowned Night Heron.
We then drove along the Corredor Verde and found Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Collared Doves, Melodious and Cetti's Warblers, Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Kestrels, Buzzards, Black-shouldered Kites, White Storks, Little and Cattle Egrets, Redshanks, a Greenshank and Iberian Magpies.
We then headed for the Brazo del Este, on the east bank of the Río Guadalquivir, and as we passed the Cañada de Rianzuela a White-headed Duck, Common and Red-crested Pochards and Grest Crested Grebes we seen at close quarters.
Our first stop at the Brazo del Este produced Purple Herons, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Ringed Plovers and Curlew Sandpipers.
At the next stopping place there were Gull-billed Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Purple Swamp-hens, Collared Pratincoles, Dunlins, Sanderlings and both Reed and Great Reed Warblers.
Elsewhere in the Brazo del Este region we found 10 Marbled Ducks, Avocets, a Little Stint, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Squacco Herons, Whiskered Terns, Marsh Harriers and a Short-toed Eagle.
12th May. This morning I drove to Faro airport in Portugal to collect Pat and Judy Hayes from Stratford-upon-Avon and Frances Gatens from Glasgow, who are here for 10 days on one of my extended birding tours.
After driving the group to the La Aldea campsite at El Rocío and checking them into their bungalows we paid an introductory visit to the El Rocío marshes. We saw large numbers of Greater Flamingos, 180+ Spoonbills, White Storks, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Gadwalls, Cetti's and Reed Warblers, Spotless Starlings, Black Kites, Buzzards and Whiskered Terns.
We then spent 90 minutes at the La Rocina nature park, finding Black-crowned Night Herons, Woodchat Shrikes, Tree Sparrows, Gold and Greenfinches, Nightingales, a Short-toed Treecreeper and a Savi's Warbler.
Pat, Judy and Frances are with me for 7 of the next 8 days, with tomorrow being our first full day of birding.

13th May. This was the first full day with Pat and Judy Hayes and Frances Gatens, who are on one of my inclusive packaged birding holidays. After collecting the group from their accommodation we headed straight for the Raya Real and drove out past La Dehesilla, to the ford. Nightingales were singing everywhere and we saw at least 3 different birds. Black Kites, Common Buzzards and White Storks were flying overhead and these were joined by a hunting Black-shouldered Kite. A Southern Grey Shrike was seen perched on top of a prominent look-out post and several Woodchat Shrikes were also in the area. Serins, Greenfinches, Great and Blue Tits, Hoopoes and Whiskered Terns were also seen.
We then drove along the Arroyo de las Cañadas, finding several Black-crowned Night Herons, Little-ringed Plovers and Little Egrets. We stopped at the bridge over the Arroyo de Santa Maria and watched Zitting Cisticolas, Red-rumped Swallows, Bee-eaters a Short-toed Eagle, Crested Larks and Corn Buntings.
a short drive along the Moguer road produced many birds, but only Spotted Flycatchers were new birds for the day.
Our next stop was the Palacio del Acebrón. The birds seen here included numerous more Nightingales, a Winter Wren, Siskins, Melodious Warblers and Chaffinches.
14th May. This was my 3rd day with Pat, Judy and Frances. After collecting them from the La Aldea bungalows we made for the Corredor Verde, stopping at the White Stork nesting colony at Villamanrique en-route. All of the nests now contain young stork chicks and they are plainly visible. We also stopped at a small pond near Villamanrique and found both Greater and Little-ringed Plovers.
At the Corredor Verde we saw Woodchat Shrikes, Iberian Magpies, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Nightingales, Melodious Warblers and Hoopoes. Pat wandered off alone for 5 minutes and recorded a Cetti's Warbler.
At other sites near the CV we saw Spanish Sparrows, Bee-eaters, Little and Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills, Night Herons, Serins and Sardinian Warblers.
We stopped at the Cañada de Rianzuela, where there were 7 Marbled Ducks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Gadwalls, Little and Great Crested Grebes, 4 White-headed Ducks, Purple Swamp-hens, Whiskered Terns, Squacco Herons, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts.
There were 3 Red-knobbed Coots at the usual Gravel pit.
The aftrenoon was spent in the northern marshes area. here we found Greater Flamingos, Grey and Purple Herons, Little Bitterns, Glossy Ibis, Kentish Plovers, Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers, Dunlins, Turnstones, Ruff, Black-necked Grebes, Great Reed Warblers, Greater Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Yellow Wagtails and Short-toed Eagles.
15th May. My tour today was with Klaus-Peter Ralhff and his wife, from Germany and two of their friend, Heinrich and Margaret. The four had driven up from Chiclana and we met at Benacázon at 09.30. I headed straight for the Corredor Verde and we spent a pleasant 2 hours there watching White Storks, Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Black-shouldered Kites, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Serins, Pallid Swifts, Woodchat Shrikes, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Turtle Doves, Melodious Warblers, Spanish Sparrows and Black Kites.
At the Entremuros we saw Black-crowned Night Herons, Black-winged Stilts and Yellow Wagtails.
There were plenty of birds on the Cañada de Rianzuela and within an hour we had found 5 White-headed Ducks (3M + 2F), Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Gadwalls, a Marbled Duck, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Avocets, Gull-billed Terns, Common Sandpipers and Great Reed Warblers.
Today, four Red-knobbed Coots were showing well on the usual gravel pit.
We visited the northern marshes during the afternoon. At the Lucio del Lobo there were Greater Flamingos, Black-headed Gulls, Ringed Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins. Along the road at the JAV we saw Purple Herons, Squacco Herons, a Little Bittern and many Glossy Ibis.
At the Caño de Guadiamar there was another White-headed Duck, Whiskered Terns, Redshanks, Spoonbills, Collared Pratincoles, a Great White Egret, Greater Short-toed Larks, Stonechats, a male Montagu's Harrier and 3 Short-toed Eagles.
16th May. Today I was back with Pat and Judy Hayes and Frances Gatens, who are on one of my inclusive packaged birding holidays. The first area we visited was near the town of Niebla, looking for Montagu's Harriers. We managed good views of 3 males as they hunted over open fields. There were also White Storks, Ravens, Kestrels, a Buzzard, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Red-rumped Swallows, Zitting Cisticolas and Melodious Warblers.
We then drove to the castle in Niebla and spent about 30 minutes watching and photographing the Lesser Kestrels, Common and Pallid Swift and Spotless Starlings.
We then visited the port and marshes of El Rompido, finding 80+ Red Knots, Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Whimbrels, Oystercatchers, Greenshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets, Sandwich Terns, Southern Grey Shrikes, Hoopoes, Reed and Sardinian Warblers and Iberian Magpies.
In the afternoon we spent a few hours at the Marismas del Odiel, where there were Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Avocets, Redshanks, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Collared Pratincoles, Little Terns and Yellow-legged and Audouin's Gulls.
We ended the day's birding at the Laguna Primera de Palos and added Purple Swamp-hens, Gadwalls, Common Pochards, Whiskered Terns and Red-knobbed Coots to the daily list.
17th May. Today's tour with Pat, Judy and Frances was to the Brazo del Este and several other sites to the east of the Río Guadalquivir. As we drove between El Rocío and Villamanrique we saw Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Hoopoes, Corn Buntings, Iberian Magpies and a Little Owl.
Before heading for the ferry, I decided to try the Dehesa de Pilas area for sandgrouse and Stone Curlews. At the first stop we saw plenty of Collared Pratincoles, a few Black Kites and Kestrels and 2 flying Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. As these were a "lifer" for Frances, I was not happy with the sighting, so I moved to another field where I felt the prospects would be better. we were in luck and found up to 15 birds feeding in the short stubble. In the same area we also saw White Storks, Bee-eaters, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts and 2 Melodious Warblers.
A quick visit to the "reedbeds" produced Reed, Great Reed and Savi´s Warblers, Purple Swamp-hens, Little and Cattle Egrets and Whiskered Terns.
We then stopped at the Cañada de Rianzuela and both Pat and Frances managed to get some excellent close-up shots of a male White-headed Duck, one of three that were showing very well. Also seen were Gadwalls, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shovelers, Black-winged Stilts and Avocets.
After crossing the Río Guadalquivir, I drove to the Isla de los Olivillos, where there is a sizeable mixed breeding colony of Little and Cattle Egrets and Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons. Two Marsh Harriers (M & F) circled overhead, offering very good views.
The northern marsh area of the Brazo del Este is almost dry, due to work being carried out that is supposed to improve ???? the water flow into the river. However, we did find Spoonbills, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Black Terns and several Common Buzzards.
The southern marsh area is holding more water and birds and we saw Purple Herons, Greater Flamingos, 6 Marbled Ducks, Grey Plovers, Common Sandpipers and Dunlins, along with many of the previously mentioned species.
18th May. Another day with Pat and Judy Hayes and Frances Gatens, their 6th of 8 days whilst on their inclusive packaged birding holiday. Today we concentrated on the area to the north of Doñana which includes the upper limits of the Corredor Verde de Guadiamar.
Our first stop was at the Arroyo de Santa Maria, on the road to Hinojos. Twenty minutes here produced 4 Nighingales, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, 5 Cetti's Warblers, Little-ringed Plovers, Red-rumped Swallows, Barn Swallows, Common Swifts and Black Kites.
A few kilometres further along the road we stopped to look for other passerines in a forest and olive grove. There were several Sardinian Warblers, Woodchat Shrikes, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Collared Doves and a few more Nightingales.
On the road to Aznalcóllar we stopped near a lagoon and although there waere no birds to be seen on the water, there were birds in the immediate area. Amongst these were Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, 2 Short-toed Eagles, Montagu's Harriers, a Black-shouldered Kite, Common Buzzards, Common Kestrels, a Southern Grey Shrike, Little Owls, Cattle Egrets and White Storks.
Midway between Aznalcóllar and Gerena we stopped at the Río Guadiamar and although there were plenty of birds present, the only new addition to the list was 3 Common Cuckoos.
We stopped at the Torre de San Antonio and had excellent views of about 20 Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and 3 Rollers, all of which nest in the tower. A passing Booted Eagle was quickly attacked by a Roller, which was then joined by 4 Lesser Kestrels and together the 5 birds drove the eagle away from the nesting site.
At Las Doblas and Buitrago we saw 2 Little Bitterns, Black-crowned Night Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Purple and Grey Herons, Stonechats, Serins, Spotted Flycatchers and Melodious Warblers.

Roller - © John H Johns



19th May. Once again I was guiding Pat and Judy Hayes, but Frances Gatens decided to have a day off from birding and do some sightseeing and shopping. Also on today's tour was Kaare Storeheier and his partner, Anne Hopstock, from Norway.
We spent the first hour at El Rocío marshes, finding Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, White Storks, Black-winged Stilts, Common Pochards, Gadwalls, Great Crested Grebes, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Whiskered and Black Terns, Common Swifts, Barn Swallows, Reed Warblers, a Cetti's Warbler and Goldfinches.
As we drove from El Rocío to Villamanrique, we made several stops to view Iberian Magpies, Bee-eaters and Woodchat Shrikes. Near the Bar La Para we spotted a group of Griffon Vultures soaring on a thermal. Closer inspection revealed Black Kites, a Booted Eagle and a Raven amongst the vultures.
We drove through the Dehesa de Pilas and the Partido de Resina, heading for the northern marshes and on the way we saw 3 Short-toed Eagles, Buzzards, Kestrels, a male Montagu's Harrier, Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and Collared Pratincoles.
At the José Antonio Valverde Centre there were Avocets, Cattle Egrets, Squacco Herons, Glossy Ibis Black-necked and Little Grebes and Purple Herons.
We then visited the Caño de Guadiamar and the Lucio del Lobo, finding Black-crowned Night Herons, a Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hens, Red-crested Pochards, 2 Great White Egrets, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Redshanks, Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, a Little Stint, Curlew and Common Sandpipers, Dunlins, Yellow Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks, Calandra Larks, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, Great Reed Warblers and Marsh Harriers.
20th May. This was my last day with Pat, Judy and Frances, who have been on one of my extended inclusive packaged birding holidays. Once again, they were joined by Kaare Storeheier and Anne Hopstock.
We began at the Raya Real, near El Rocío and at the La Dehesilla site we found Nightingales, Woodchat Shrikes, Yellow Wagtails, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Black Kites, Buzzards, Little Egrets, Common Sandpipers, Whiskered Terns, Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Spotless Starlings, White Storks and a Great Spotted Cuckoo.
In the Corredor Verde there were several Black-shouldered Kites, a Little Owl, Green and Goldfinches, Serins, Zitting Cisticolas, Red-rumped Swallows, Common Swifts, Turtle Doves, Black-billed Magpies, Bee-eaters, Cattle Egrets and Collared Pratincoles.
Three Red-knobbed Coots, Common Pochards and Little Grebes were seen at the usual "gravel pit" and the Cañada de Rianzuela there were 2 male White-headed Ducks, Shovelers, Gadwalls, a male Garganey, Red Crested Pochards, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, 6 Marbled Ducks, Black Terns, Purple Swamp-hens, Purple and Squacco Herons, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Avocets, Ringed Plovers, Booted and Short-toed Eagles and Great Reed Warblers.


A short drive into the Dehesa de Pilas produced Bee-eaters and Spanish Sparrows.
In the afternoon we drove out to the northern marshes and the JAV. Here we found Greater Flamingos, 2 Great White Egrets, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Green Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Black-crowned Night Herons, Gadwalls, Shoveleres, Sand Martins, Yellow and White Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks, Calandra Larks and Whiskered Terns.

Collared Pratincole. © Dani Huertas - www.daniscoping.com

22nd May With me today were Chris and Liz McGill and their friends Roger and Wendy from the UK. The tour started at Hinojos and as we drove to Villamanrique we saw numerous Iberian Magpies and Woodchat Shrikes alongside the road. At Villamanrique we stopped at the White Stork nesting colony in the palace gardens. Each nest now has between 2 and 4 young storks.
At the Corredor Verde we saw Black-shouldered Kites, Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Little and Cattle Egrets, Night Herons, Spoonbills, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Corn Buntings, 2 Common Cuckoos, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas and Serins.
We stopped at the Cañada de Rianzuela and found White-headed Ducks, Gadwalls, Garganeys, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Collared Pratincoles and Little-ringed Plovers.
At a nearby gravel pit we saw three Red-knobbed Coots and Common Pochards.
In the northern marshes there were Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Lapwings, Purple and Squacco Herons, Black-necked Grebes, Marbled Ducks, Purple Swamp-hens, Short-toed Eagles, Red Kites, Ravens, Greater Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Great Reed Warblers, a Savi's Warbler, a Great White Egret and a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.
24th May. This morning I drove to Sevilla to collect Ted and Melissa Duffield, an American couple from California that are with me for four days on one of my "Mid-week birding breaks".
We drove straight to El Rocío and spent an hour or so checking out the birds on the main marsh. Amongst other birds, we saw Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Grey Herons, Black-winged Stilts, Whiskered Terns, Black Kites, Spotless Starlings and Goldfinches.
We then visited the Moguer road and the La Rocina Visitors Centre, where we saw Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Barn swallows, House Martins, Tree Sparrows, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, a Crested Tit, Golden Orioles and Little Egrets.
We had our picnic lunch at the El Acebuche Centre and then ventured into the park. The main birds recorded here included Little Grebes, White Storks, Purple Herons, a Little Bittern, Little-ringed Plovers, a Booted Eagle, Black-billed and Iberian Magpies and more Golden Orioles.
25th May. This was my second day with Ted and Melissa Duffield from California. I collected the couple from the Hostal Pino Doñana in Hinojos and drove to the palace at Villamanrique, where we saw White Storks, Spotless Starlings, Barn Swallows, Collared Doves, Common Kestrels and a Little Owl.
We moved on to the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo, finding Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Common Sandpipers, Crested Larks, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Buntings and a Common Cuckoo. Elsewhere in the Corredor Verde there were Black Kites, Common Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black-shouldered Kites, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Common and Pallid Swaifts, Collared Pratincoles and Red-legged Partridges.
We spent some time at the Cañada de Rianzuela, where we saw 5 White-headed Ducks, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Little, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, a Muscovy Duck, Spoonbills, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Whiskered Terns. Two Red-knobbed Coots were seen at the usual gravel pit.
In the northern marshes there were Yellow Wagtails, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, Great Reed Warblers, a Savi's Warbler, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Glossy Ibis, Purple and Squacco Herons, Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret and Red Kites.
26th May. This was my third day with Ted and Melissa, who are here on one of my 4-day midweek break package holidays. Today´s tour was to the sites to the west of the Doñana region and we began at some open fields near Niebla, where Montagu's Harriers, White Storks, Common Kestrels and Crested Larks were seen. We then visited Niebla castle and saw Lesser Kestrels, Common and Pallid Swifts, Jackdaws and Spotless Starlings.
We then drove to the Laguna El Portil, where there were Great Crested and Little Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Black-winged Stilts, Yellow-legged Gulls, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Reed Warblers and a Hoopoe.
Our next stop was at the Marismas de Río Piedras. Here we saw Oystercatchers, Cormorants, Whimbrels, Kentish Plovers, Little Terns, Little Egrets, Sardinian and Dartford Warblers, Southern Grey Shrikes, Black-billed Magpies, Thekla Larks, a Peregrine Falcon and a very close-up, beautifully summer plumaged Little Stint.
In the afternoon we visited the Marismas del Odiel, but a high tide meant that many of the waders I had hoped to find were not at their regular feeding spots. However, we did find Common Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Collared Pratincoles, Marsh Harriers, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Purple Swamp-hens, Audouin's Gulls, Sandwich Terns and Spotted Flycatchers. The highlight of the day occurred as we were watching a mixed flock of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin feeding on a disused saltpan. Suddenly, the birds took flight in panic and as we looked to see what had startled them, a Booted Eagle power-dived in amongst the flock and caught a Dunlin, just 50 metres away from us. The unfortunate bird was quickly killed and carried off to a nearby tree, where the eagle was to enjoy his afernoon snack.
Our last stop was at the Laguna Primera de Palos, where we added Gadwalls, Purple Herons, a Red-knobbed Coot, Whiskered Terns, Iberian Magpies, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons and Zitting Cisticolas to our list.
27th May. This was Ted and Melissa's last day with me and they had to be returned to Sevilla by 2pm, so that only left a few hours for birding. There were a few birds I wanted them to see, so I drove out to the area north of Doñana where these particular birds can be found quite easily.
A visit to Buitrago nature park produced Spotted Flycatchers, Reed and Cetti's Warblers, Common swifts, Blackbirds and Greenfinches, but alas, the Nightingales, although singing, could not be found.
We had more luck at Las Doblas, where apart from Purple Swamp-hens, Little-ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets and Great Reed Warblers, there were two Little Bitterns, one of the target birds.
We ended up at the Torre de San Antonio, between Gerena and Olivares and found the last bird on my list, two Rollers. Also at the tower were about 20 Lesser Kestrels.
The couple recorded over a hundred species during thei midweek break, with about 75% of these being "lifers" for them.

28th May. Today's tour included Ray and Lynne Baker from Surrey, who are staying with Rebecca and I in our B&B accommodation. They were joined by Roger and Barbara, a couple from Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol.
We started the day with a visit to the El Rocío marshes, finding Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Whiskered Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Greylag Geese, Shovelers, Common Pochards, Redshanks, Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Reed Warblers and 2 Cetti's Warblers.
We then drove to the Corredor Verde, where there were Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, Serins, Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows, Little Egrets, Purple Herons, Collared Pratincoles, Common Buzzards, Little Owls, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas and Corn Buntings.
Two Red-knobbed Coots were seen at the usual gravel pit and at the Cañada de Rianzuela we found 2 Marbled Ducks, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Avocets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle Egrets, Red-crested Pochards and 2 male White-headed Ducks.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes, finding 5 Short-toed Eagles, Ravens, Kestrels, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Herons, numerous Great Reed Warblers, a Savi's Warbler, Short-toed Larks, Purple Swamp-hens, Lapwings and a Great White Egret.

29th May. This was my second day with Ray and Lynne Baker from Surrey. The first site we visited was Las Doblas, part of the Corredor Verde. As we entered the site we saw Crested Larks, Corn Buntings, Barn Swallows, House Martins and Common Swifts. As we walked along the elevated boardwalk over the lagoon I spotted a small group of Penduline Tits, which gave us good views for about 10 minutes. Our attention was then taken by a flying male Little Bittern, which perched in some reeds about 80 metres away, allowing Ray plenty of time to digiscope it. Two other Little Bitterns were also seen here. Flying overhead we had Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Black Kites, Common Buzzards, Kestrels and a Black-shouldered Kite. In the reedbeds and on the banks surrounding the lagoon there were Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Grey, Purple and Black-crowned Night Herons Herons, Black-winged Stilts, Little-ringed Plovers, Purple Swamp-hens, White Storks, Cetti's, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Nightingales, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Stonechats. In other areas of the site we saw Iberian Magpies, Bee-eaters, Spotless Starlings, White Wagtails, a Short-toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrikes, Great Tits and Hoopoes.
We then drove towards Aznalcóllar and made a short stop near a small lagoon. Here we saw a Whinchat, a Sparrowhawk, Cattle Egrets and a male Montagu's Harrier. Several more male Monty's were seen during the day.
Ray wanted to see a Southern Grey Shrike, so I stopped at the Municipal duck pond near Gerena, where I know there is a breeding pair. Within two minutes, a shrike settled on an electrical cable, no more than 20 metres away. More close-up digi shots for Ray.
The next stop on the itinerary was the Torre de San Antonio, where we saw the expected Jackdaws, about 20 Lesser Kestrels and a Roller.
After a picnic lunch we drove to Buitrago and although we saw a number of species, including another Little Bittern, the only new birds for the day were Tree Sparrows and Spotted Flycatchers.
We ended the day by driving around the Isla Mayor, adding Squacco Herons, Whiskered Terns, Collared Pratincoles, Booted Eagles, Little Owls and Spanish Sparrows to our list.
During the two days, Ray and Lynne recorded 96 species, 28 of which were "lifers" for Ray, with 69 "lifers" for Lynne.