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TRIP REPORTS. NOVEMBER 2006

29th November. This was my second day guiding Mel and Gill Greenhalgh from Cornwall. As the couple had joined yesterday´s tour an hour late, we drove to the Laguna San Lázaro to try to find Crested Tits. We immediately found Blue Tits, Crested Larks, Black Redstarts, Robins, Stonechats, White Wagtails and Iberian Magpies, and after a further 30 minutes of searching, we had excellent close-up views of a Crested Tit. Also seen were Hoopoes, Iberian Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches, Woodlarks and a Tree Pipit. Close to the lagoon we saw a Buzzard, a Red Kite, Ravens, a Kestrel and a Black Stork.
We then headed for the Huelva region, stopping first near the entrance to Playa Rompeculos, to watch two nearby Booted Eagles. Continuing along the road for a couple more kilometes, I spotted a distant raptor. Thinking it was another Booted Eagle, I pulled over and discovered that there were 4 eagles, but these were not Booted, they were Short-toed Eagles. Suddenly, there were 7, then 9, then more. In 10 minutes we counted at least 16 S-t Eagles and another Booted.
Both of these eagles can be seen in small numbers throughout the winter in Doñana, although they are described in all field guides as "migratory-summer only" and we often see 1 or 2 on a day tour, but this was completely unprecedented for the end of November. My first thought was that they were a very late migrating flock, heading back to Africa, but then realized that these were making their way inland from the coast, 700 metres away. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies, bright sunshine and an offshore breeze, that would have helped the birds had they have been crossing to Africa. But no. These birds were definately heading inland. Could it be that these birds were returning very early from Africa? They don´t normally start to arrive until late February/March, so I am at a loss to explain the number of birds seen.
We then continued to the Laguna Primera de Palos, were we found Purple Swamp-hens, 3 Squacco Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Shovelers, Common Pochards, Cormorants, Grey Herons and a Common Sandpiper.
Our next stop was at the Laguna El Portil, where there were Little Grebes, Teal, Snipe, Greenshanks and 6 Common Waxbills.
After a picnic lunch we drove to the Marismas de Río Piedras. Here there were Ringed, Grey and Kentish Plovers, Redshanks, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Little Stints, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Curlews, Whimbrels, Black-winged Stilts, a Caspian Tern, Sandwich Terns, 4 Ospreys, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, several Dartford Warblers, Sardinian Warblers, Southern Grey Shrikes and 2 or 3 Bluethroats.
We finished the day at the Marismas del Odiel, where we added 2 Red-knobbed Coots, Black-tailed Godwits, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Audouin´s Gulls, Zitting Cisticolas, Marsh Harriers and a Red-breasted Merganser to out lists.

28th November. With me today were Patrick and Lynn Temple from Los Angeles, California and Mel and Gill Greenhall from Cornwall. Mel and Gill drove up from Portugal and didn´t arrive until 10am, so Patrick, Gill and I spent 40 minute at the Laguna San Lázaro to fill in the time. The first birds seen were a large flock of Iberian Magpies and these were quickly followed by a Hoopoe, White Wagtails, Spotless Starlings and a Green Woodpecker. A short walk through the pine and oak forest produced Collared Doves, Great, Blue and Crested Tits, Robins, Willow Warblers and Ibeian Chiffchaffs.
After collecting Mel and Gill, we drove out to the Corredor Verde, where we managed to find Red Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Crested Larks, Serins, Corn Buntings, Black Redstarts, Goldfinches, Southern Grey Shrikes, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.
The high water levels of yesterday had dropped significantly and we were able to cross the Entremuros and visit the Isla Mayor ricefields. In this area we saw White Storks, Black Storks, Little Egrets, Yellow-legged Gulls, Little Grebes, Common Pochards, Lapwings, Purple Swamp-hens, Jackdaws, Meadow Pipits, Zitting Cisticolas, Marsh Harriers and a Merlin.
After a picnic lunch at the Fuente de Conejos, we made our way out to the northern marshes. At the Huerta Tejada there were about 160 Glossy Ibis, 2 Hen Harriers, Stonechats, Little Owls, Common Cranes, Grey Herons, 2 Great White Egrets, Cormorants and many Black-headed Gulls.
At the same field as yesterday, beside the Finca los Caracoles, we counted over 270 Stone Curlews and at the Lucio del Lobo we saw Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Green Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Gadwalls, Shovelers, Pintails and Red-crested Pochards.
We ended the day at the Hato Raton ricefields and although we didn´t add any new species to our list, we did see 4 more Great White Egrets, 2 more B-s Kites and about 700 Common Cranes.

27th November.My tour today was with Richard Elvy from Kent and his friend Robin. We began the tour at the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo and immediately found an Osprey and a few Red Kites. Several Hoopoes were seen in the area, along with Cormorants, Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Great Crested Grebes, Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Crested Larks, Southern Grey Shrikes, Corn Buntings, Stonechats, Willow Warblers, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and both Great and Blue Tits.
We then drove through a part of the Corredor Verde, finding 7 Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, Kestrels, Marsh and Hen Harriers, a Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawks, a Cetti´s Warbler, White Wagtails, Spanish Sparrows, Meadow Pipits, Zitting Cisticolas, Spotless Starlings, Lapwings, Golden Plovers and 2 more Ospreys.
Heavy rain over the weekend had produced extensive flooding of the Entremuros and we were not able to cross over to the Isla Mayor ricefields, but we contented ourselves by watching thousands of Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Glossy Ibis, White Storks and Marsh Harriers feeding in that area.
Driving out toward the northern marshes, we made several stops. The first stop produced a lone Black Stork, Red Kites, a Black Kite, dozens of Redshanks, a few Greenshanks, Green Sandpipers, Shovelers and Teal.
At the next stop, next to the Finca los Caracoles, we counted over 190 Stone Curlews, a large lock of Calandra Larks and 13 Common Cranes. Further along the road we encountered 2 Little Owls, Greylag Geese and a large number of Greater Flamingos.
As we drove alongside the Caño de Guadiamar there were dozens of Purple Swamp-hens, 5 Great White Egrets and 3 more Hen Harriers (1M & 2F).
The last of the harvested ricefields in the Hato Raton area were being ploughed down by the tractors and this produced a fantasic spectacle, with well over 2,000 White Storks, 1,000´s of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, 1,000+ Cattle Egrets, 100+ Little Egrets, 50+ Spoonbills, Black Storks, Lapwings, Golden Plovers and over 600 Common Cranes feeding in the fields.
In the same area we also recorded 2 more B-s Kites, 2 more Sparrowhawks, Common Snipe and 2 Kingfishers.

23rd November. Today I travelled west, to collect Mark and Sian Litjens from the Hotel Barcelo in Punta Umbria and to guide them to some of the best birding sites near Huelva.
On leaving the hotel, we immediately passed dozens of Iberian Magpies, feeding in a forest beside the road.
Our first stop was at the Laguna El Portil, where we found Greenshanks, Common Snipe, Common Sandpipers, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Pochards, Shovelers, Buzzards, Robins, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian Warblers and a Dartford Warbler.
We then moved on to the port of El Rompido. It was almost low tide and there were many waders feeding on the exposed mudflats. Amongst these, we saw Kentish, Grey and Ringed Plovers, Whimbrels, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Turnstones and Redshanks.
The Marismas Rio de Piedras again proved to be the top spot for Caspian Terns, with at least six being present. There were also a good number of Sandwich Terns, a Whiskered Tern and 2 (3?) Little Terns. Cormorants, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Red-breasted Mergansers, Black-winged Stilts, Little and Cattle Egrets, an Osprey and a Kingfisher were seen in and on the wetlands and in the drier, scrubby areas, there were 5 Bluethroats, 3 Dartford Warblers, Meadow Pipits, a Tree Pipit, a flock of Common Waxbills, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Robins and Southern Grey Shrikes.
At the Marismas del Odiel we saw many of the species we had already recorded, but also managed to add Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, 2 more Ospreys, White Storks, Spoonbills, Lesser Black-backed and Audouin´s Gulls to our list.
Our last stops of the day were at Estero de Domingo Rubio and the Laguna Primera de Palos, where there were 2 Squacco Herons, Purple Swamp-hens, Gadwalls, 3 more Kingfishes and another large flock of Waxbills.

21st & 22nd November. On the first day I was Guiding Vivien Drake from Hampshire, her mother Marjorie and her friend Maggie.
The morning was spent in and around the sites near El Rocío. Although there is now plenty of water in the main marsh at El Rocío, the site was a bit short of birds, but we did manage to see Little Egrets, White Storks, Grey Herons, Shovelers, Pintails, Black-winged Stilts, Coots and Marsh Harriers.
We then visited the Raya Real and the Arroyo de la Partido. Here, there were 3 Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Robins, Sardinian Warblers, Little Egrets, Stonechats, a Cetti´s Warbler, Great Tits, Hoopoes and a Common Sandpiper.
The afternoon was spent at La Cantarita, where there were Red Kites, Buzzards, Hen Harriers, Iberian Magpies, Black Redstarts, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Black Storks, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Green Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hens and Little Stints.

On the second day, Vivien, Marjorie and Maggie were with me again and they were joined by Kay and Tony Maslen and Kay´s brother Martin. Our first stops of the day were at the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo and the Laguna de Quema, where we had excellent views of an Osprey, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Shovelers, Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Crested Larks, Robins, Serins and Southern Grey Shrikes.
A drive through the Corredor Verde and alongside the Rio Guadiamar produced 8 Black-shouldered Kites, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Kestrels, Buzzards, Ravens, Hoopoes, Woodlarks, White Wagtails, Iberian Magpies, Serins, Greenfinches, Zitting Cisticolas, Stonechats, White Storks and over 400 Black-crowned Night Herons.
In the Isla Mayor ricefields we saw Black-winged Stilts, Black Storks, Little Egrets, Common and Green Sandpipers, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Squacco Herons and good numbers of Glossy Ibis.
In the afternoon, we visited the northern marshes and at the usual field near Huerta Tejada we counted 317 Stone Curlews, although there were obviously many more we couldn´t see.
Near the Lucio del Lobo there were 3 Little Owls, many Common Cranes, Red Kites and Corn Buntings. On the lucio (pool) itself, there were thousands of Greater Flamingos and hundreds of Avocets.
In other areas, we saw Griffon Vultures, 3 Great White Egrets, Purple Swamp-hens, Little Grebes, Greylag Geese and Gadwalls.

19th November. With me today were David and Kathlyn Kuivila from Sacremento, California. They had never birded in Spain before, so most of the birds seen would be "lifers" for them. After collecting the couple from El Rocío, we drove to Villamanrique, seeing several flocks of Iberian Magpies on the way.
Our first sites we visited were the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo. Here we saw Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Little Egrets, Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens and Coots.
We then drove through the Corredor Verde and along the Río Guadiamar. We made several stops along the route, finding Buzzards, Kestrels, Red Kites, a male Hen Harrier, Marsh Harriers, a Booted Eagle, Crested Larks, Hoopoes, Stonechats, Great Tits, Goldfinches, Black Redstarts, Southern Grey Shrikes, 100´s of Black-crowned Night Herons and 12 Black-shouldered Kites, one pair of which were seen nest-building and mating. Four other B-s Kites were seen elewhere during the day.
A drive beside the "Turf farm" produced Greenfinches, Serins, Meadow Pipits, Woodlarks and White Storks.
In the Isla Mayor, we found Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Cattle Egrets, 100´s of Glossy Ibis, Lapwings and Yellow-legged Gulls.
The afternoon was spent in the northern marshes, where, apart from many of the previously mentioned species, we saw Greater Flamingos, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Golden Plovers, 3 Great White Egrets, Black Storks and Common Cranes.

14th November. With me today were Peter L´Heureux and his friend Mike from Washington D.C. in America. Our first stop was at the Lagunas de Mancho Zurillo and as we approached the first lagoon we were treated to a great display by 5 Hoopoes, flying around us and on the track in front of the vehicle. Getting out of the vehicle and scanning the water and the surrounding land, we found Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Cormorants, a Great White Egret, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Stonechats, Willow and Sardinian Warblers, Black Redstarts, Spotless Starlings, Crested and Woodlarks, Meadow Pipits, Corn Buntings and a Southern Grey Shrike.
At the second lagoon there were Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Coots, Kestrels, Buzzards and a hunting Osprey.
We drove though the Corredor Verde, making several stops and saw Robins, Serins, Zitting Cisticolas, Black-crowned Night Herons, Ravens, Red Kites and 8 Black-shouldered Kites.
As we drove through the Isla Mayor ricefields, we found White Storks, Little Egrets, Green Sandpipers, Glossy Ibis, Little Grebes, Spanish Sparrows, Chiffchaffs, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, White Wagtails and a Booted Eagle.
After a picnic lunch, enjoyed as much by the flies, as us, we made our way out to the northern marshes. Several Marsh Harriers and a flock of about 35 Stone Curlews showed well as we drove long the track and near the Casa de Bombas we had cracking views of two Short-toed Eagles and more distant views of two Black Kites.
There were 1,000´s of Greater Flamingos at the Lucio del Lobo, along with 100´s of Avocets, Shovelers, Black-winged Stilts and a small group of Common Cranes. Two more Booted Eagles were seen circling above us.
As we were leaving the marshes, I spotted a male Ferruginous Duck amongst a mixed group of ducks. The last new bird for the day was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon perched on an electricity pylon, that allowed us to get to within 30 metres of it, on foot, before flying off to another pylon. We also saw more Stone Curlews, two more Great White Egrets, another Black Stork and another Osprey.

9th November. This was my second day guiding Michael and Sally Reynolds, from Suffolk. Today we visited the west of the region, concentrating on waders and seabirds.
Our first stop was at La Rábida, on the banks of the Rio Tinto and although there was a favourable low tide, there were very few waders present. However, we did see Oystercatchers, Common Sandpipers, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Cormorants, Grey Herons and White Storks.
Our next stop was at the Laguna El Portil, where Shovelers, Mallards, Gadwalls, Common Pochards, Teal, Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks, Little Grebes and a Black Tern were seen.
We then stopped at the port at El Rompido and found many of the waders we had been hoping for. ie. Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Red Knots, Turnstones and several Curlews.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Marismas de la Rio Piedras and here we found Sandwich Terns, 10 Caspian Terns, over 100 Whimbrels, Common Redshanks, Little Egrets, Stonechats, Serins, Black Redstarts, Robins, Hoopoes, Iberian and Black-billed Magpies and a Southern Grey Shrike.
In the afternoon, we made a tour of the Marismas del Odiel and apart from many of the previously recorded species, we also saw Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-necked Grebes, Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Audouin´s Gulls, 2 Ospreys and Marsh Harriers.
We finished the day by visiting the Estero de Domingo Rubio and the Laguna Primera de Palos. At the first of these sites we added a flock of about 12 Common Waxbills, several Willow Warblers to our list and at the second, there were Purple Swamp-hens, Wigeon and at least 4 Squacco Herons.

Squacco Heron. Usually a summer visitor, but some remain in the region throughout the year.


8th November. Today´s tour was with Michael and Sally Reynolds from Suffolk and Patty Verhoeven from Holland and it turned out to be a bumper day for raptors. We began the birding at the Corredor Verde and within two hours we had recorded Red Kites, Buzzards, a Booted Eagle, a Merlin, a Sparrowhawk, Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, a Hen Harrier and 8 Black-shouldered Kites. Also seen in this area were Green and Goldfinches, Crested and Woodlarks, Tree Pipits, Hoopoes, Iberian Magpies, Stonechats, Zitting Cisticolas, Southern Grey Shrikes, Corn Buntings, White Wagtails, Black Redstarts, Blackcaps, Common and Green Sandpipers, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Common Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes and over 300 Black-crowned Night Herons.
We then visited the Isla Mayor and found several ricefields that were being ploughed down after the harvesting. This produced views of well over 1,000 White Storks, 1,000´s of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, 100´s of Lapwings, Spanish Sparrows, Little Egrets and 9 Black Storks.
We had our lunch at a local picnic site and were entertained by a pair of Crested Tits in a tree directly above us.
In the afternoon, we made our way out to the northern marsh area. On the way we saw two Ospreys, a Short-toed Eagle and a large number of Griffon Vultures.
At the field beside the Huerta Tejada, we counted at least 89 Stone Curlews, some as close as 50 metres. A little Owl was also seen.
There were many birds on the Lucio del Lobo and these included probably a thousand Black-winged Stilts, a hundred Avocets, 500 Shovelers, a few Little Grebes and at least 3,000 Greater Flamingos.
As we were leaving the marshes, we saw two Great White Egrets, 1,000´s of Greylag Geese and about 30 Common Cranes.

3rd November. My tour today was with Robin and Valerie Mason from Lincolnshire and Tim and Jean Davidson from Boston, Massachusetts. We began at the Laguna de Mancho Zurillo and the Corredor Verde and as soon as we stopped at the lagoon we found our first Osprey of the day. A few Grey Herons, Cattle Egrets and Coots were all that were on the water, but in the surrounding areas we found Iberian Magpies, Hoopoes, Crested and Woodlarks, Goldfinches, Stonechats, Sardinian Warblers, Black Redstarts, Tree Sparrows, Spotless Starlings, Corn Buntings, a Wryneck, Kestrels, Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and several Black-shouldered Kites.
We then experienced very heavy rain for about an hour, which stopped the birding, but allowed us to take a coffee break in a local bar.

Once the rain stopped, we toured a part of the Isla Mayor ricefields and found Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, White Storks, Little Egrets, Lapwings, White Wagtails, 300+ Glossy Ibis and over 100 Avocets.
After our picnic lunch, we toured the northern marsh area where there were 3,000+ Greater Flamingos, 9 Black Storks, 4 Great White Egrets, 1,000+ Black-winged Stilts, Purple Swamp-hens, Green Sandpipers, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Little Owls, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Red Kites, Ospreys, a Peregrine Falcon and a Short-toed Eagle.