TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Andalucia

22nd - 29th September 2001


Leaders:
John Muddeman
Tim Earl

Big birds cannot face a crossing of the Mediterranean. Its absence of thermals would involve them with a powered flight, which is beyond any of them. There are thus only two places to go in autumn if you are a bird of prey migrating out of Europe: Istanbul in Turkey or Tarifa, Spain.

So it was that when the Travelling Naturalists visited, the skies above the line of hills bordering the Straits of Gibraltar were thick with raptors gaining height before attempting to glide the 14km across to Africa.

Ironically, we were not alone. This is a major tourist area and, although the birds are not noticed by the other visitors, everywhere we stopped people asked about what we were watching - and had a go themselves. Besides watching we were also ambassadors for the migrant birds.

It was not only the raptors we watched. The Coto de Doñana is one of Europe's great wetlands and we also spent time with Spanish Imperial Eagles, one of the rarest birds on Earth.

Saturday 22nd September

After meeting at Heathrow the UK contingent flew to Seville on a late-afternoon flight (made later by an air-traffic delay) to join our US cousins.

We drove to the hotel in El Rocio where a Stripeless Tree-frog, Iberian Pool Frog and Praying Mantis were waiting unseen outside the hotel. Tim and John discovered the menagerie after the group had been allocated rooms and retired for the night, but as Dee had been reading about Praying Mantis on the way out, she and Jill, both friends of Tim, were woken to see the beautiful creature which immediately flew into their bedroom initiating a hunt to release it.

Sunday 23rd September

Most people made the 7.30 start with little difficulty, despite a late arrival at the hotel after our journey from Seville the evening before. Only the leaders seemed to find getting out of bed difficult...

After a typical Spanish breakfast we set off in a four-wheeled drive vehicle on a special trip to explore the more inaccessible parts of the Coto de Doñana. Sadly, heavy rain had made the tracks so slippery that our vehicle could not get through and we had to stay on more established roads.

Not that this prevented us from seeing great birds.

We started with 11 Red-legged Partridges, a flock of Azure-winged Magpies found by Jill, a Southern Grey Shrike, our first Little Owl plus scores of Woodpigeons and Turtle Doves.

John showed his great form by picking up a small flock of Tawny Pipits which we were able to examine closely through the 'scopes. A non-breeding-plumaged Pied Flycatcher picked up ants from under an oak tree.

After driving into an area of rice fields, birds of prey began to show themselves and Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and many Kestrels were added to the day's list. A Squacco Heron obliged with one flight down a nearby ditch followed by another across a rice field, both of which afforded great views. Two Purple Herons were the first of this species for several participants but the more common Grey Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets were more widely known.

Not so our first Spanish Imperial Eagle, which showed its white epaulets and pale head as it circled high over the fields. A change of angle left us with better views of the bird plus a second which joined it.

A combination of the eagles and a group of traditional Spanish riders, sitting in their armchair-like saddles, flushed hundreds of birds from an old river bed usually out of sight of the road. We gazed in absolute awe at more than 400 Spoonbills, a significant proportion of the Spanish population of this species, which accompanied 14 Glossy Ibis, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and scores of Avocets and Mallard.

A stop was made to watch waders which had settled in a ploughed rice field. Kentish and Ringed Plovers were soon picked out as were lots of Little Stints. A few Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers took a bit longer to wheedle out of the group with a Redshank and two Turnstones as the final prize.

Our huge packed lunches were eaten at the Cerrado Garrido Interpretation Centre after a coffee and great views of Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Greater Flamingos, Purple Swamphens, more Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits plus lots of Marsh Harriers. A Honey Buzzard passed across the pools while we were eating and two Moorish Geckos started our reptile list.

In the reeds a Cetti's Warbler sang a rather muted version of its usual high-decibel song, perhaps because it was a aware of other more tuneful warblers in the area. A walk after lunch revealed a Willow Warbler vying with a Spotted Flycatcher for space on a wire while two Spectacled Warblers flitted beneath them. Two Melodious Warblers were chomping their way through insects gleaned from willows next to a vast pond which held lots more Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts, all of which regularly sprang into the air as first a Booted Eagle and then a succession of Marsh Harriers flew over them.

Our journey back to El Rocio was delayed by stops to watch Lesser Short-toed Larks, Black Terns, a Black Stork and more raptors. However, return we did to discover, to our delight, that the normally dry marsh behind the hotel was flooded and alive with Flamingos and Avocets, Mallards and Shovelers, Ruff and Little Stints, Swallows, House and Sand Martins, and lots more Black Terns. Amazingly, all seemed oblivious to the presence of a juvenile male Peregrine which was sitting on one of the banks doing a spot of birdwatching.

The day concluded with several people studying a fine 12-point Red Deer stag from the restaurant as we tucked into an excellent supper.

Monday 24th September

As daylight broke, most of us were driving to Las Playa de Matalascanas beach where a Peregrine came flying past a couple of times as we arrived.

The bird put up lots of Sanderling and a few gulls loafing on the beach but they soon settled again.

So did we: to enjoy seawatching for half a hour in which time we saw several Gannets, Arctic Skuas (Parasitic Jaegers) chasing Sandwich Terns, and three Balearic Shearwaters. Three Audouin's Gulls were roosting on the beach with Lesser Black-backed Gulls and we were able to read the numbers on leg-rings visible on two birds.

After Tim, Judy, Dee and Jill had enjoyed an early-morning swim we went back for breakfast.

We spent the morning behind our hotel examining the birds on the marsh. It was an absorbing and fascinating business.

Black Terns were flying within a few feet of us, while the wader flocks included Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Little Stints, Redshank and Spotted Redshank, Ringed, Kentish and our first Little Ringed Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlin.

We watched a number of Yellow Wagtails, one of which seemed to be of the Scandinavian race M. f. flava. A few small-bird migrants were present giving us the opportunity to see Melodious and Reed Warblers, Spotted and lots of Pied Flycatchers. A couple of Spotless Starlings seemed to have a few spots, but in the end we decided that they were not Common Starlings which are a winter visitor to the area. European Goldfinches have yellow only in the wing but their American namesakes have a solid yellow body, our US clients said as they searched Eucalyptus trees for the species.

Lunch was eaten in the grounds of the Palacio del Acebrón to the calls, but few sightings, of Pied Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper, several tit species and Sardinian Warbler. Large numbers of Red-rumped Swallows were hawking flies through the pine wood.

A Hoopoe led us a dance after lunch but we were finally able to see it well along with Long-tailed Tits which were charging through the pine trees. A Blue Tit was far more difficult - singing its characteristic song but not moving enough to reveal details. A walk through cool pine and mixed woods gave us new species for the list such as Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and a Firecrest which was heard by Max.

Our trip back to El Rocio was delayed by Tim and John who followed a hunch that we should not get back on time. The group was rewarded with excellent views of Thekla Lark on a wire fence and a number of birds of prey, such as Booted Eagle, which eventually formed a 'kettle' inside a rising thermal. A single Short-toed Eagle amazed us by doing its display flight - flap, flap, glide, like a Sparrowhawk - normally seen only in spring.

Our leaders claimed that this was 'playing a hunch to get us back late' as, when we arrived at the hotel at El Rocio, a Red Kite and two Spanish Imperial Eagles were circling low overhead.

Features such as the epaulets, that are normally difficult to see, were easily picked up without the aid of binoculars. The first bird we had seen circled above us for a few minutes before landing on a huge tuft of grass in the marsh. After pecking at something it took off again, circled us for one last time and drifted off downwind. Its mate had been loafing about over the marsh but it too seemed attracted to us and did a few circuits before also drifting off after the other.

Silence fell on the group as we thought about this most fantastic of experiences. The views we had would be difficult to beat and were certainly one of the top birding incidents for us all. It was a terrific end to an exceptional day's birding.

Tuesday 25th September

An early start to the day saw us at El Acebuche nature reserve by 8.15am. A flock of Azure-winged Magpies were sporting near the entrance as we drove in while more were seen near the car park. A search for an Iberian Chiffchaff was successful for a few but more members of the group saw one of two Firecrests.

Our first stop was in one of the hides (blinds) overlooking a super reedy pool. Highlight birds included several Kingfishers, a Water Rail, eight Spotted Redshanks, lots of Snipe, a Green Sandpiper and, almost hidden, the twin antlers of a 14-point Red Deer stag.

As we walked back to the minibuses, Judy and Jill got views of several Tree Sparrows while John found a Nightingale. Three Garden Warblers were feeding on tiny olive fruits and the bird of the morning - a really smart Subalpine Warbler - was found close by.

We set off for Zahara after a late breakfast and had lunch on the way at Laguna de Medina. A late Collared Pratincole flew close to Tim's minibus and he was able to alert the others by walkie-talkie.

At the Laguna the surface was almost covered with Coots and we had to search for other birds. They came thick and fast with Dee finding a Marbled Teal and several Black-necked (Eared) Grebes, Tim and Max spotting a number of Red Crested Pochards, Jill finding a Purple Heron and everyone seeing Common Pochard. A Squacco Heron flew off to return a few minutes later.

Two Marsh Harriers hunted over the reed beds while Greater Flamingos flew too and fro - much to our delight. Several Griffons drifted past at a great height and a pale-phased Booted Eagle also put in an appearance.

A cliff on the way to the coast had about 100 Jackdaws clinging to it. Our arrival at the Hotel Antonio was marked by a passage of three Cory's Shearwaters and about 20 Gannets. Ron was exploring his balcony when a Peregrine dived in intent on a late feed from a flock of feral pigeons. It was unsuccessful but delighted Ron, John and Tim who had also seen it.

Wednesday 26th September

One of the great ornithological wonders of the world is the migration between Europe and Africa. Huge numbers of birds make the journey each autumn, many unseen under the cover of darkness.

The large birds, however, cross the Straits of Gibraltar during the day and to watch them was our objective.

It was clear as we waited by the minibuses, anxious to get away, that this was to be a special day. Ron and Mickey found a Hoopoe in the sand dunes while a Hobby, several Booted Eagles, a flock of Alpine Swifts and three Ortolan Buntings passed overhead.

Our destination for the day was the Tarifa area, the most southerly part of Spain where the distance to Morocco and continental Africa is just 14km. We stopped at the Playa de los Lances overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar where a Honey Buzzard was having difficulty making headway against the strong easterly wind.

A flock of Yellow Wagtails was feeding around the feet of horses, roosting Sanderlings, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and a single Little Ringed Plover were accompanied by two Grey (Black-bellied) Plovers.

Close to the sea, a huge roost of birds included Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls, Sandwich Terns plus spectacular adult and juvenile Lesser Crested Terns - which became bird of the day for several participants. A lone Greater Flamingo accompanied roosting Red Knots and a Turnstone.

A few migrating birds of prey went past, scattering the roost occasionally, among them Osprey, Booted and Short-toed Eagles. As we left the beach a Bar-tailed Godwit, Wood Sandpiper and a Snipe flew past. Behind the beach raptors were on the move and we became increasingly excited about our prospects.

We headed for the hills to the famous Cazalla viewpoint where several observers were recording the passage of birds including Griffon Vultures and Short-toed Eagles. Below us, however, we could see many more birds between Tarifa and our position, so we dropped down to the town outskirts where John gave a master-class in identification.

The vast majority of birds were Booted Eagles with Short-toed Eagles making up about a third. Unable to cross the Straits they wheeled around as if lost. We were witnessing one of the most exciting big-bird migrations to be found the Old World.

After a coffee stop we had lunch on the outer wall of Tarifa's harbour. A few raptors were seen heading out to sea and we also had great views of Gannet, Cory's and Balearic shearwaters, plus two Common Terns and a few parties of Black Terns. A lone Sanderling was feeding on the harbour wall.

A large flock of Black Kites passed overhead intent on reaching Morocco, hidden in sea mist, and accompanied by Sparrowhawks, a Marsh Harrier and several eagles.

Out at sea gulls were following fishing boats only to have their activities interrupted by an Arctic Skua which, with wings flashing their white panels, chased a gull until the unfortunate bird was forced to yield its last meal to the benefit of the dark hunter.

We stopped at a final lookout site where Griffon Vultures were patrolling along and roosting on a crag. A good number of Egyptian Vultures joined them and even higher we identified birds such as Osprey and Marsh Harrier.

The distinctive calls alerted us to a party of three Bee-eaters passing overhead and as we left a party of 28 Black Storks drifted along the escarpment. As we entered Zahara we stopped to look for Blue Rock Thrush, finding a male on the outskirts of the town.

This was yet another highlight day and we returned to the hotel delighted with our memories.

Thursday 27th September

General Franco did a terrible thing while in power - he had La Janda marshes drained and turned into fields for rice, cotton, maize and sunflower seeds. It was an act of unimaginable eco-vandalism. The site was on a par with the French Camargue, Danube Delta or the Coto de Doñana.

Even as rice fields the area is brimming with wildlife, although Linnets, Goldfinches and Corn Buntings have replaced the Cranes, Flamingos, Avocets, ducks, waders and raptors which once filled the air above it.

The morning was spent slowly examining each field we reached (and we covered only a small part of the area). Having seen the common birds we concentrated on teasing out more unusual species such as Grey Herons, Whinchats, Green Sandpipers, Little Egrets, Kestrels and, on this occasion, lots of Marsh Harriers. Mickey found a female Ring-necked Pheasant wandering across the track and Jill unearthed four Red-legged Partridges at the base of an electricity pylon.

Finally, on reaching a sunflower field with views across the former marshes, we found a snowstorm of white - hundreds of Cattle Egrets following a plough. Closer examination revealed Nature's contrast - more than 100 black Jackdaws in with the white egrets.

Birds hunting over the fields, scattering the brightly coloured Greenfinches, turned out to be Lesser Kestrels complete with paler underparts and under-wing surfaces, more rounded wing tips and a different overall appearance. Harriers were plentiful but a melanistic adult male Montague's Harrier taxed us to identify it.

Our trip back to the hotel for lunch and a siesta was punctuated by a stop to watch Alpine Swifts hawking in front of a line of dark rain-clouds. Tim and John enjoyed lunch watching the sea while people came and went for spells of this somewhat esoteric pastime. They were rewarded with lots of close views of Cory's and Balearic Shearwaters hugging the coast - a most untypical view of these pelagic birds.

More Alpine Swifts were seen from the raptor observation point at Puerto de Bolonia, but migrating birds of prey were few in number so we dropped down to the ancient Roman town of Baelo Claudia. The ruins are extensive and fascinating but even in the midst of all the antiquity we were able to find Osprey, Honey Buzzards, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, returning from unsuccessful attempts to cross the Straits into Morocco.

We completed the day's activities with a final spell of seawatching. Dee was on the balcony of her room when she shouted down that Manx Shearwaters were passing - the other observers saw one of four she had spotted.

Friday 28th September

Our last day in the field started with a somewhat disappointing pre-breakfast walk - if Cory's and Balearic shearwaters circling a fishing boat while it pulled its nets can be an anti-climax.

We set off for the Straits but had to stop on the outskirts of Tarifa when a flock of Alpine Swifts was seen. On investigation we saw hundreds of the huge, white-bellied swifts hawking low over sand dunes. They were to be constant companions for the day, turning up at most of the sites we stopped at.

Our first stop at the Cazalla raptor observation site produced a few close birds - including Red-rumped Swallows, two Pallid Swifts, Honey Buzzards and four Black Kites - but gave up the day's best information: we could see raptors crossing the Straits in huge numbers a few miles away to the east.

Our next stop at Mirador del Estrecho was breathtaking. About 1,000ft above the gleaming sea with the vast grey Djebel Mousa Mountain across the Straits as a backdrop, hundreds of birds were streaming out to their winter quarters.

It was impossible to single out a premier species - Booted and Short-toed Eagles vied with Sparrowhawks and Honey Buzzards for the title of most numerous. After a while we began searching for the unusual, such as a Hobby attempting to find a way between wind turbines which lined a ridge, a Northern Goshawk steaming through our field of view, and, highlight of the day, a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle looking surprisingly similar to the bigger Griffon Vultures.

Beneath the vantage point were a male Blue Rock Thrush, male Sardinian Warbler and a Thekla Lark.

Jill's sharp eyes picked up an extraordinary sight: more than a mile away the sea was alive with dolphins. Some were riding the wake of a long-gone boat, doing flips right out of the water, while others were leaping as they rode the bow pressure-wave of a container ship.

We could not have coffee or access to the lavatories due to a power-cut. Nevertheless, Tim was amazed when a shouting café owner pleaded with him in Spanish to get a group of German women out of the ladies lavatories because the power-cut would trap them in the stalls...

We eventually moved on to the Huerta Grande Interpretation Centre where our visit was met with a squadron of Black Storks which joined the now familiar raptors passing overhead. We explored the woodland and gardens to get great views of Firecrests, our first (surprisingly) Blackcaps, a Robin and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. John's ears were tuned sharply, as ever, and four Hawfinches making their Robin-like tik, flew over. Monarch butterflies were found flitting through the glades, their huge wings starting hurricanes somewhere in the world, no doubt.

Passing Zahara, we made our way to Cabo de Trafalgar - site of the famous sea battle - where more unexpected goodies were waiting for us. Before the buses had been parked John spotted a Hobby chasing a Sanderling around the sand dunes, without success. Another chase was spotted from the lighthouse as we arrived, this time an Arctic Skua which was harrying a gull close to us.

We settled down to watch a mirror-like sea for birds when two black flippers appeared - our first whale? No. A scuba diver had surfaced and gone down again imitating the great leviathans.

A magnification of 80X is one of the features of a Questar telescope. John's allowed him to find the first of 10 European Storm-petrels a long way out. Fortunately the others were seen a little closer in and we all had reasonable views of 'Mother Carey's Chickens'. The first Whimbrel of the trip was found among rocks as we left.

The last stop of our fantastic tour was in the far from salubrious surroundings of the bridge out of Barbate where we were plagued by mosquitoes. It was worth it, though, for among the Sandwich and Common terns, Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Turnstones, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Red Knot, gulls and a distant Osprey, were two Caspian Terns and a Eurasian Oystercatcher, a brilliant end to the adventure.

Saturday 29th September

An uneventful but wet drive to Seville Airport saw the tour concluded as we bid farewell to new and old friends after a rewarding time as Travelling Naturalists in Andalucia.

ANNOTATED LIST OF SPECIES SEEN

GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Coto de Doñana (9+ on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (20+ on 25th)

Great crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (10+ on 25th)

Black-necked (Eared) Grebe Podiceps nigricollis Laguna de Medina (5 on 25th)

SHEARWATERS and PETRELS Procellariiformes Procellariidae

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea Zahara (6+ on 25th); Tarifa breakwater (20+ on 26th); Zahara (50+ on the 27th); Cabo de Trafalgar (50+ on 28th)

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus Zahara (4 on the 27th)

Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th); Tarifa breakwater (10+ on 26th); Zahara (50+ on the 27th); Cabo de Trafalgar (30+ on 28th)

STORM-PETRELS Procellariiformes Hydrobatidae

European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus Cabo de Trafalgar (10+ on 28th)

GANNETS and BOOBIES Pelecaniformes Sulidae

Northern Gannet Morus bassanus Coto de Doñana (10+ on 24th); Zahara (20+ on 25th); Playa de los Lances and Tarifa breakwater (50+ on 26th); Zahara (200+ on the 27th); Cabo de Trafalgar (50+ on 28th)

HERONS and EGRETS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Coto de Doñana (25+); Playa de los Lances (5+ on 26th); La Janda rice fields (20+ on 27th)

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (1 on 25th)

Little Egret Egretta garzetta Coto de Doñana: common daily; Laguna de Medina (10+ on 25th); La Janda rice fields (30+ on 27th)

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (1 on 25th)

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Hundreds daily, but especially La Janda rice fields (400+ on 27th)

Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax Coto de Doñana (8 on 23rd)

STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

Black Stork Ciconia nigra Coto de Doñana (1 on 23rd); Tarifa area (90+ on 26th); Tarifa area (43 on 28th)

White Stork Ciconia ciconia Coto de Doñana: common; La Janda rice fields (20 on 27th)

IBIS and SPOONBILLS Ciconiiformes Threskiornithidae

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Coto de Doñana (14 o 22nd)

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia Coto de Doñana (400+ on 22nd, a good proportion of Spain's population); Playa de los Lances (5 on 26th)

FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopteridae

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber Coto de Doñana (200+ daily); Laguna de Medina (50+ on 25th); Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th)

SWANS, GEESE and DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae

Mute Swan Cygnus olor Two escapes at Laguna de Medina on 25th

Greylag Goose Anser anser Coto de Doñana (10+ daily)

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th)

Gadwall Anas strepera Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (100+ on 25th)

Common Teal Anas crecca Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd)

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Coto de Doñana: abundant; La Janda rice fields (30+ on 27th)

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (10+ on 25th)

Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris Laguna de Medina (1 on 25th)

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina Laguna de Medina (20+ on 25th)

Common Pochard Aythya ferina Laguna de Medina (10+ on 25th)

Common (Black) Scoter Melanitta nigra Coto de Doñana (2 on seawatch 24th)

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala Laguna de Medina (20+ on 25th)

OSPREY Falconiformes Pandionidae

Osprey Pandion haliaetus Tarifa area (2 on 26th, 3 on 27th, one carrying a fish); Barbate (1 on 28th)

HAWKS, EAGLES and KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae

European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd); Tarifa area (4 on 26th, 30+ on 27th); Tarifa area (15+ on 28th)

Red Kite Milvus milvus Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd, 1 on 25th)

Black Kite Milvus migrans Tarifa area (40 on 26th, 1 on 27th); Tarifa area (6+ on 28th)

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Tarifa area (10+ on 26th)

Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus Coto de Doñana (1 on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (6 on 25th); Tarifa area (20+ on 26th)

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th); Tarifa area (40+ on 26th, 20+ on 27th); Tarifa area (200+ on 28th)

Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus Coto de Doñana (tens on 23rd); Laguna de Medina (2 on 25th); Tarifa area (2 on 26th); La Janda rice fields (20+ on 27th); Tarifa area (3+ on 28th)

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus Coto de Doñana (4+ on 23rd); La Janda rice fields (3 on 27th)

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Tarifa area (20+ on 26th, 10+ on 27th, 100+ on 28th)

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis Tarifa area (1 on 28th)

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; 1 on 25th); La Janda rice fields (2 on 27th)

Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd; 2 on 24th); Mirador del Estrecho juv. on 28th)

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; 30+ on 24th; 1 on 25th); Tarifa area (70+ on 26th, 30+ on 27th); Tarifa area (400+ on 28th)

FALCONS and CARACARAS Falconiformes Falconidae

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni La Janda rice fields (5 on 27th); Tarifa area (1 on 28th)

Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Coto de Doñana (a few daily, max 20+ on 23rd); Tarifa area (4 on 26th)

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo Zahara hotel (1 on 26th); singles on 28th at Cabo de Trafalgar and Mirador del Estrecho.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Coto de Doñana (1 juv. male on 23rd; 1 on 24th); Zahara 1 on 25th); Tarifa area (4+ on 26th)

PHEASANTS and PARTRIDGES Galliformes Phasianidae

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa Coto de Doñana (11 on 23rd; 3 on 25th)

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus La Janda rice fields (female on 27th)

RAILS, GALLINULES and COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus El Acebuche, Coto de Doñana (1 on 25th)

Purple Swamphen (Gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio Coto de Doñana (4+ on 23rd; 3 on 25th)

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; 2 on 25th)

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Coto de Doñana (4+ 23rd); Laguna de Medina (500+ on 25th)

OYSTERCATCHERS Charadriiformes Haematopodidae

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus Barbate estuary (1 on 28th)

AVOCETS and STILTS Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Coto de Doñana (tens daily)

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta Coto de Doñana (hundreds daily)

PRATINCOLES Charadriiformes Glareolidae

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola 50km south of Seville (1 on 25th)

PLOVERS and LAPWINGS Charadriiformes Charadriidae

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus Coto de Doñana (100+ daily)

Grey (Black-bellied) Plover Pluvialis squatarola Playa de los Lances (2 on 26th)

(Common) Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd; 50+ on 24th; 3 on 25th); Playa de los Lances (6+on 26th)

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Coto de Doñana (6 on 24th; 6 on 25th); Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th)

Kentish (Snowy) Plover Charadrius alexandrinus Coto de Doñana (40+ on 23rd; 1 on 24th); Playa de los Lances (6+ on 26th)

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; 30+ on 25th); Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th)

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa Coto de Doñana (hundreds daily)

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th); Barbate estuary (24 on 28th)

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Cabo de Trafalgar (1 on 28th)

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd; 1 on 24th; 8+ on 25th)

Common Redshank Tringa totanus Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; 3 on 24th); Barbate estuary (1 on 28th)

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd; 4+ on 24th)

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd; singles on 24th and 25th)

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th)

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd; singles 24th and 25th); Barbate estuary (1 on 28th)

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd); Tarifa area (6+ on 26th); Barbate estuary (2 on 28th)

Red Knot Calidris canutus Playa de los Lances (6 on 26th)

Sanderling Calidris alba Coto de Doñana (20+ on 24th); Tarifa area (30+ on 26th); Cabo de Trafalgar (30+ on 28th)

Little Stint Calidris minuta Coto de Doñana (tens on 23rd and 24th)

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd); Cabo de Trafalgar (2 on 28th)

Dunlin Calidris alpina Coto de Doñana (30+ on 23rd; 15+ on 24th); Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th); Barbate estuary (50+ on 28th)

Ruff Philomachus pugnax Coto de Doñana (tens daily)

JAEGERS and SKUAS Charadriiformes Stercorariidae

Great Skua Catharacta skua Playa de los Lances (2 on 26th)

Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) Stercorarius parasiticus Coto de Doñana (3 at a seawatch on 24th); Tarifa (1 on 26th); Cabo de Trafalgar (1 on 28th)

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae

Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th); Zahara (4 on the 27th)

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans Tarifa area (100+ on 26th); Zahara (10+ on the 27th); Barbate estuary (10+ on 28th)

Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus Coto de Doñana (20+ daily); Tarifa area (100+ on 26th); Barbate estuary (10+ on 28th)

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Coto de Doñana (tens daily); Tarifa area (30+ on 26th)

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Barbate estuary (2 on 28th)

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis Playa de los Lances (2 on 26th)

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis Coto de Doñana (30+ seawatching on 24th); Tarifa area (50+ on 26th); Zahara (20+ on the 27th); Barbate estuary (10+ on 28th)

Common Tern Sterna hirundo Tarifa breakwater (10+ on 26th); Barbate estuary (1 on 28th)

Black Tern Chlidonias niger Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd and 24th); Laguna de Medina (20+ on 25th); Tarifa breakwater (20+ on 26th); Zahara (2 on the 27th); Cabo de Trafalgar (1 on 28th)

PIGEONS and DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae

Rock Dove Columba livia Common in towns

Common Wood-pigeon Columba palumbus Coto de Doñana (hundreds on 23rd)

European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur Coto de Doñana (40+ on 23rd); Zahara (1 on 25th); Tarifa area (5+ on 26th)

Eurasian Collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th); Zahara (50+ on 25th); Tarifa area (10+ on 26th)

OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae

Little Owl Athene noctua Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd)

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba Zahara (10+ on 26th, 150+ on 27th); Tarifa area (1,000+ on 28th)

Common Swift Apus apus Tarifa (6 on 26th); Zahara (5 on 27th); Tarifa area (5 on 28th)

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus Barbate estuary (10+ on 28th); Tarifa area (2 on 28th)

KINGFISHERS Coraciiformes Alcedinidae

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Coto de Doñana (several heard, one seen on 23rd; 5 on 25th)

BEE-EATERS Coraciiformes Meropidae

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Coto de Doñana (several heard on 24th); Tarifa area (3 on 26th)

HOOPOES Coraciiformes Upupidae

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops Coto de Doñana (1 on 23rd); Zahara (1 on 26th)

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Coto de Doñana (several heard on 24th); Huerta Grande (1 on 28th)

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis Coto de Doñana (one heard on 24th)

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra Zahara (1 on 26th, 30+ on 27th)

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens Coto de Doñana (flock of about 10 on 23rd)

Crested Lark Galerida cristata Coto de Doñana: abundant; Tarifa area, common

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae Coto de Doñana (1 on 24th; 2 on 25th); Mirador del Estrecho (1 on 28th)

Wood Lark Lullula arborea Coto de Doñana: 1 singing on 23rd.

SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) Riparia riparia Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd and 24th); Tarifa area (10+ on 26th)

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Coto de Doñana: abundant; Tarifa area: heavy passage

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica Coto de Doñana (5 on 23rd; 50+ on 24th; 6+ on 25th); Tarifa area (2 on 26th); Tarifa area (2 on 28th)

House Martin Delichon urbica El Rocio, Coto de Doñana (hundreds); Tarifa area (50+ on 26th, hundreds on 27th and 28th)

WAGTAILS and PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd and 24th, 1 on 25th); Tarifa area (50+ on 26th)

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Coto de Doñana (1 fly-over on 23rd); Tarifa area (2 on 26th)

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris Coto de Doñana (flock of about 6 on 23rd); Playa de los Lances (4+ on 26th)

KINGLETS Passeriformes Regulidae

Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus Coto de Doñana (2 on 25th); Huerta Grande (4 on 28th)

WRENS Passeriformes Troglodytidae

Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th)

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae

Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius Zahara (1 on 26th); Puerto de Bolonia (1 on 27th); Mirador del Estrecho (male on 28th)

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th; 2 on 25th); Huerta Grande (6 on 28th)

CISTICOLAS and ALLIES Passeriformes Cisticolidae

Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler) Cisticola juncidis Coto de Doñana: common; Tarifa area (a few on 26th, 27th and 28th)

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Coto de Doñana (one heard on 23rd, 10+ on 24th; 3 heard on 25th)

Eurasian Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus Coto de Doñana (1 on 24th and 25th)

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd, 5+ on 24th); La Janda rice fields (2 on 27th)

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Coto de Doñana (5 on 23rd, 10+ on 24th, 8 on 25th)

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita Coto de Doñana (1 on 24th)

Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus Coto de Doñana (1 on 25th)

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Huerta Grande (3 on 28th)

Garden Warbler Sylvia borin Coto de Doñana (4 on 24th; 3 on 25th); Huerta Grande (3 on 28th)

(Common) Whitethroat Sylvia communis Coto de Doñana (1 on 24th)

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans Coto de Doñana (1 on 24th)

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th; 2 on 25th); Tarifa area (1 on 26th)

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata Coto de Doñana (4+ on 23rd)

Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata Coto de Doñana (1 on 25th)

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata Coto de Doñana (1 on 23rd, 4+ on 24th; 2 on 25th)

European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca Coto de Doñana (1 on 23rd, 20+ on 24th, 6+ on 25th); Huerta Grande (1 on 28th)

European Robin Erithacus rubecula Coto de Doñana (1 heard on 24th); Huerta Grande (1 on 28th)

Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Coto de Doñana (1 on 25th)

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Coto de Doñana (2 on 23rd); Playa de los Lances (1 on 26th); La Janda rice fields (10+ on 27th)

Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata Coto de Doñana (4 on 23rd, 15+ on 24th; 6+ on 25th); La Janda rice fields (20+ on 27th); Tarifa area (10+ on 28th)

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Coto de Doñana (3 on 23rd; two each on 24th and 25th); Tarifa area (5+ on 26th)

LONG-TAILED TITS Passeriformes Aegithalidae

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus Coto de Doñana (3 parties on 24th)

CHICKADEES and TITS Passeriformes Paridae

Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th; 1 on 25th)

Great Tit Parus major Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th; 2 on 25th)

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th)

CREEPERS Passeriformes Certhiidae

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla Coto de Doñana (3 on 24th; 1 on 25th); Huerta Grande (3 on 28th)

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd)

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator Coto de Doñana (immature on 23rd)

CROWS and JAYS Passeriformes Corvidae

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana Coto de Doñana (flock of about 20 on 23rd, 1 heard on 24th; 40+ on 25th)

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica Coto de Doñana (6+ on 23rd, 10+ on 24th and 25th)

Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula Zahara area (100+ on 25th); La Janda rice fields (100+ on 27th)

Common Raven Corvus corax Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd, 24th and 25th)

STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor Coto de Doñana, Tarifa area: common

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Coto de Doñana, Tarifa area: abundant

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Coto de Doñana (2 on 24th; 5+ on 25th)

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Coto de Doñana (5+ on 23rd; 3 on 24th; 2 on 25th); Mirador del Estrecho (1 on 28th)

European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris La Janda rice fields (20+ on 27th)

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Coto de Doñana, Tarifa area: common; La Janda rice fields (100+ on 27th)

Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina Coto de Doñana (several heard on 24th); Coto de Laguna de Medina (6+ on 25th); La Janda rice fields (30+ on 27th)

European Serin Serinus serinus Coto de Doñana (5+ on 24th)

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes Huerta Grande (4 on 28th)

BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana Zahara (3 on 26th)

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra Coto de Doñana (10+ on 23rd); Tarifa area (20+ on 26th); La Janda rice fields (100+ on 27th)

MAMMAL LIST

Dolphin sp. From the Mirador del Estrecho, 100+ visible in numerous groups in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Wild Boar Sus scrofa Around Doñana, tracks crossing a sandy path on 23rd and numerous rootlings on 24th.

Red Deer Cervus elaphus Two stags at El Rocío on 23rd and 3 at El Acebuche on 24th.

Fallow Deer Dama dama Two bucks on the marshes at El Rocío in the morning and a group of 106 there on the evening of 24th.

Iberian Hare Lepus capensis At least two in the Doñana area on 23rd.

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus Various at El Acebuche and en route to Zahara de los Atunes on 25th.

Bat spp. Chiroptera Several individuals of medium size on 23rd and 24th, and 2+ small bats on 25th.

'HERP'TILES

Stripeless Tree Frog Hyla meridionalis 2+ heard calling in the El Acebrón area on 24th.

Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauretanica Small numbers seen at the Hotel Toruño on 23rd and 24th and at Hotel Antonio on 27th.

Large Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus 2+ in the El Acebrón area on 24th.

Spiny-footed Lizard Acanthodactylus erythrurus 3+ in the El Acebrón area on 24th.

Iberian Wall Lizard Podarcis hispanica 3+ in the El Acebrón area on 24th.

BUTTERFLIES

Scarce Swallowtail Iphaclides podalirius One at El Acebrón on 24th.

Large White Pieris brassicae 2 on 24th and 2+ on 27th.

Clouded Yellow Colias croceus 2+ at Baelo Claudia on 27th.

Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra One at El Acebrón on 24th.

Lang's Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous 10+ at El Acebrón on 24th.

Monarch Danaus plexippus Three at Huerta Grande on 28th. The population here in the Strait has apparently only been settled and breeding for the last 5 years.

Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius One fly-by at El Acebrón on 24th.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta A total of 3+ on 24th.

Painted Lady Cynthia cardui One at the Mirador del Estrecho on 28th.

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina One female at Baelo Claudia on 27th.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Two at El Acebrón on 24th. (Not split as Southern S. W., as John had I/Ded it, but 'still' Speckled Wood in Tolman 2001).

Wall Brown Lasiommata megera One at the Cazalla viewpoint on 28th.

DRAGONFLIES

Southern / False Emperor Anax parthenope The only common (and positively identified) large dragonfly in the Doñana area: 5+ on 24th and plenty on 25th.

Scarlet Darter Crocothemis erythraea A fine, totally red male by the Laguna de Medina on 25th.

Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei Very common, with large numbers (100+ daily) in the Doñana area from 23rd - 25th and lots on La Janda on 27th.

Darter spp. Sympetrum spp. Other unidentified individuals, either S. fonscolombei, meridionale and/or sanguineum were seen at a variety of sites and almost daily.

OTHER INSECTS

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum singles at two different sites on 27th.

Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium One on 24th at El Acebrón.

Field Cricket Gryllus campestris Common in the grassy lawns of the hotels in both El Rocío and Zahara de los Atunes.

Praying Mantis Mantis religiosa At El Rocío, two on 23rd and one on 24th and one at Zahara de los Atunes on 27th.

Ant-lion spp. Myrmeleon One with spotted wings at El Rocío on 24th, possibly Dendroleon pantherinus and another, possibly Macronemurus appendiculatus at Zahara de los Atunes on 28th.

'7-lined Dung-beetle' sp. unknown! Common in the Doñana area and occasional along the coast at sandy sites, e.g. at Playa de los Lances.

Hornet Vespa crabro At least 2 at Huerta Grande on 27th.

OTHER INVERTEBRATES

Red Signal Crayfish Procambarus clarkii Amazing numbers in and near the ditches crossing La Janda on 27th.


© The Travelling Naturalist 2001