TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
17 - 28 April 2002
This is one of the most exciting bird trips in Europe combining Andalucían migration-watching at the Straits with marshes on the fascinating Coto de Doñana plus the stunning plains and steppes of Extremadura.
Highlights for some included the wonderful colours of Extremadura's plains and the awesome cliffs of Monfragüe Natural Park, with the Rollers, Great and Little Bustards, Black Storks, Spanish Imperial Eagles and Eagle Owl seen.
Others liked the sight of Flamingos in flight across the lagoon at El Rocio, hearing Nightingales singing almost everywhere, and seeing Montagu's Harriers displaying over cornfields or Black Kites in synchronised flying displays.
For some group members it was personal achievements - Cory's Shearwater in the Straits was one participant's 1,000th bird ever, Dartford Warbler had eluded another group member, so seeing half a dozen was understandably exciting. John Muddeman saw a life-mammal - Orca - off Zahara de los Atunes, a rare event indeed.
Wednesday 17th April
There was little time for birding at Seville Airport as unidentifiable bats started flying and darkness fell. However, a few Pallid Swifts, House Sparrows and Goldfinches were recorded before birding 'time please' was called.
After meeting Tim at Heathrow, the flight down had been good, smooth and with a decent snack meal. We were peckish after collecting our luggage, meeting John and three US members of the group and so, after a short drive to get us well on the way down towards Cadiz, we stopped for a tapas supper and get-to-know-you chat.
The drive to Zahara de los Atunes went better than expected and we arrived five minutes early thanks to sterling work by the pilots (aka leaders).
Thursday 18th April
As the journey had been long there was no organised pre-breakfast walk but Tim appeared to join the insomniacs who could not wait to get into Spanish birding. Our reward was a pleasant 45 minutes looking at Corn Buntings, Spotless Starlings, Kentish (Snowy) Plovers and a few Sanderlings. A group of gulls included Audouin's and Lesser Black-backed, and a female Northern Wheatear was found getting its breath back after arriving on a short flight from Africa a few minutes earlier.
The sea looked quiet but as we watched the tuna boats (after which Zahara de los Atunes is named) a Cory's Shearwater was found and watched by most - especially Steve Hosmer for whom it was his 1,000th life-bird. Breakfast called and we went in happy.
The mood continued after we pulled off the main road to Tarifa onto a track leading to the Playa de los Lances which was alive with birds. We had not even parked when a stop to admire a Bee-eater on a wire was called for. Pallid Swifts were racing around a farmhouse while Little Owl, Sardinian Warbler and Stonechat entertained from close by.
As we walked onto the dunes above the beach, a roost of gulls added Yellow-legged Gull to our growing list while Linnets were flitting close to us, gathering nesting material. A flock of Greater Short-toed Larks was keeping them company. Waders on a stream running through the dunes included Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover, and a solitary Golden Plover.
Prospects for a good raptor passage from Morocco looked good with easterly winds and kettle of about 15 Black Kites forming closer to Tarifa. A sole pale-phase Booted Eagle and two Short-toed Eagles drifted over but then everything stopped. Only a thermal with four Griffon Vultures formed.
We contented ourselves with sorting out Blue-headed Wagtails from the British race of Yellow Wagtail, sifting through Crested Larks to find a few stunning Calandra Larks, and a Tawny Pipit.
The flowers on the dunes were stunning and when not looking up we had heads down to admire the floral carpet.
After a coffee in Tarifa, livened up by a man from Jersey who left hurriedly after being called a Crapaud (toad) by one of his Guernsey rivals, a singing gypsy, and five Lesser Kestrels, we walked out to the harbour wall to eat our sandwiches and watch out for seabirds.
Another Booted Eagle was the first sighting of note, soon to be followed by a group of 15 Balearic Shearwaters, several Northern Gannets, another two Cory's Shearwaters, an Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) and loads of Sandwich Terns.
Our journey back to the hotel for a siesta (well, you have to get into the swing of Spanish life) was broken by an estuary visit where we watched Common Sandpipers, among other waders, and had good but short views of a Nightingale and a male Blackcap.
John was well in the lead as we prepared to take the turning back to Zahara and a well-earned rest, when he spotted a flock of White Storks, Cattle and Little Egrets following a plough. We all stopped to look and as lightening and thunder lit up and rolled out of a nearby storm, raptors started going past. First it was Griffon Vultures, then a fabulous pair of Bonelli's Eagles, showing their white mantles and a marked difference in size between the female and smaller male, two Egyptian Vultures, a female Marsh Harrier.
By the time we had finished rubbing our eyes in wonder, the leaders made one last attempt to reach the hotel. It failed. Four Montagu's Harriers performed an enchanting aerial courtship display over a cornfield. We were captivated and ran the risk of being booked by parking illegally for some time watching them.
The leaders admitted defeat, abandoned the siesta idea (it was now 5pm) and took everyone to the estuary at Barbate where we watched a Greenshank, two Caspian Terns and several Black-winged Stilts among many other birds. Some contributed to the local wildlife food chain by allowing mosquitoes to bite them and then we went back to the hotel.
Friday 19th April
The strong easterly winds which prevented migration yesterday persisted with the same result. However, skilful choice of sites by John ensured that we had another excellent day among the specialities of Andalucia.
Pride of place was not a bird but a pod of three Orcas, a life mammal for John and most of the group plus a European tick for Tim. Our early morning walk produced at least three adult Orcas, feeding on the outside of tuna nets set about a kilometre away, to the delight of everyone. John kindly rushed back to the hotel and got Tim out of the shower to see them. He luckily remembered to dress before dashing across the sand dunes.
With that excitement tucked away, we set off for a viewpoint overlooking Gibraltar, which sadly was lost in the thick haze. Walking the wooded hillside produced a range of specialities for us - a singing Firecrest, the first of seven, soon followed by a Stripe-less Tree-frog resting on floating cork-oak bark in a swimming pool. Blackcaps and Nightingales were singing in the woods accompanied by Serins, Greenfinches, Blue and Great Tits.
A calling Phylloscopus warbler revealed itself to be an Iberian Chiffchaff, the first of at least three, while another close by delighted us with the full Western Bonelli's Warbler song, so reminiscent of Wood Warbler. Two Crested Tits gave poor views in a thick oak tree, and a Grey Wagtail which popped up showed itself only to John's bus as we drove away.
A late coffee break gave Tim time to phone home - a conversation in which the recipient was delighted to hear him first call the group out of the café to see a flock of about 50 European Bee-eaters and then give directions as to where they were flying. 'You are watching Bee-eaters?' Tim's colleague exclaimed. 'Yes,' was the quiet and modest reply [something not quite right here - Ed] 'It's what I do for a living.'
Lunch was eaten at a raptor-monitoring site overlooking Tarifa where we counted all the birds of prey to pass through over lunch - a grand total of zero. A Common Cuckoo and more than 20 Bee-eaters made up for that, however. We were not alone in our disappointment as three luckless birders who were staying in Gibraltar and who had deserted the rock in a fruitless search for birds, popped in to pick our brains.
Using our brains, we gave up birding for the afternoon to visit a former Roman fish-paste factory at Baelo Claudia. Naturally, the obvious happened. Two huge flocks of White Storks came in, several Short-toed Eagles were seen, two close enough to get great views as they hunted for snakes, a Thekla Lark was found and examined at the entrance to the Roman ruins, while a pair of beautiful Black-eared Wheatears were nesting where once the builders of the site stewed and mixed their tuna paste. A stop by Tim's bus to examine Dutchman's Trousers (a flower) produced more Nightingales and a singing Melodious Warbler which gave great views for a couple of minutes.
The purple patch ended and the breakaway group rejoined the others on the outskirts of Zahara to complete a search for Blue Rock-thrush - fruitlessly. Well, you get days like that sometimes.
The hotel made amends. To celebrate the Orcas a massive paella was cooked and eaten with great delight [and white wine].
Saturday 20th April
Travelling days are often bird-less but we did our best to combine the trip to El Rocio in the Coto de Doñana with avian delights. We started with an excursion to Cape Trafalgar where the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth the Very Reverend Kenneth Stevenson blessed our activities. He was visiting with City of Portsmouth chief executive Nick Gurney and a group of officials to investigate the site for the 200th anniversary celebrations of the battle against the Franco-Spanish fleet fought by Nelson just 10 miles off the point.
We did battle too, teasing out the identification of birds as they crossed from Morocco, blown far down the coast by strong easterly winds.
Harriers migrate earlier in the day that other raptors so it was no surprise to see five Montagu's and one Marsh Harrier arriving, hotly followed by two groups of Bee-eaters, Goldfinches, Common and Pallid Swifts.
On the sea, a close Cory's Shearwater pleased some who had not seen the Tarifa bird, two Caspian Terns, many Gannets, three Black-headed Gulls and a flock of Black Terns were our reward (or the Bishop's prayers answered).
Behind the lighthouse we had our best views to date of Sanderling, Ringed and Kentish (Snowy) Plovers, Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls.
A stop at the Barbate estuary on the journey out of Zahara revealed a super flock of 21 Spoonbills roosting, another Caspian Tern, our first Whimbrel, and three Curlews.
The journey to El Rocio would be done much faster by Ravens than us as we have to skirt the whole of the Coto de Doñana to get there. Lunch was taken at a reed-skirted lake which was brimming with birds, many of them new for the trip: Red-crested Pochard were common, as were singing Great Reed-warblers, Gadwall, six Turtle Doves, Cetti's and Melodious Warblers, and a few Red-legged Partridges. Tim and John were able to find one Red-knobbed Coot each, while three Short-toed Eagles seen hovering above the far bank and a Song Thrush both bumped up the list.
The journey to El Rocio was faster than previous as a new stretch of by-pass had been opened and we were in optimistic spirit as the minibuses slithered through the sand of the town. The previous year's trip list had given people a rough idea as to the birds that could be expected, but nothing could prepare folk for the view which greeted us - the lagoon behind El Toruño Hotel was alive with birds.
Hundreds of Flamingos, hosts of Whiskered Terns and the obvious sight of wildfowl, were obvious. Raising binoculars revealed Black-winged Stilts, Coots, flocks of waders, Black Kites overhead, scores of Spoonbills and rafts of ducks. Telescopes gave the fine detail: more Gadwall and Red-crested Pochard, Shoveler, Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, Ringed Plovers, Greenshanks, Gull-billed Terns, Swallows and House Martins. It was quite breath-taking.
Unable to get all our rooms in the El Toruño Hotel, we split up as some of us went up the road to stay in a classic hotel in the middle of its own citrus grove. Leaving El Rocio we saw the vast colonies of House Martins which deck many of the homes and the huge church and arriving at the overspill hotel we were greeted by the 'wet-your-lips' serenade of a singing Common Quail. Back in El Rocio a calling Tawny Owl livened the night for Rita and Bob.
Sunday 21st April
It was still singing, accompanied by a Tree Sparrow, the following morning as we left the hotel to pick up the rest of the group. A pre-breakfast visit to El Acebuche saw us stepping out along the boardwalks and into badly designed hides overlooking another arm of the lagoon. Savi's Warblers were singing with Nightingales as we arrived, the latter turning out to be one of the most abundant birds of the day. Several Little Bitterns climbed reed stems which seemed far to frail for the weight of the birds, to warm themselves in the early morning rays and a Water Rail screamed briefly. Little Grebes popped up and down in their quest for fish and a Booted Eagle warmed itself in a tree right above a pair of Green Woodpeckers' nest hole, preventing the birds from returning, although we did hear them calling. A Spotted Flycatcher found by Nick was the only migrant of the visit and we were pleased to watch young White Storks on a nest with one of their parents.
The morning was spent along the shore of the lagoon in El Rocio, delighting in the birds thronging the view. Few were added to yesterday's total although the observation platform on the interpretation centre added Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Common Redshank, Greylag Geese, Collared Pratincole, Shelduck, a melanistic (dark-phase) Montagu's Harrier, another Red-knobbed Coot, voted the trip's least interesting bird [shameÖ Ed] and nine (Pied) Avocets.
Lunch was taken in the cool woods around the Palacio del Acebron but not before we watched about six Dartford Warblers on the way into the park. Bee-eaters were abundant in migrating flocks and small parties feeding from wires while Nightingales seemed to be singing every 20 metres.
A Wryneck posed at a hole in a small plain tree for so long we began to think it was a plastic imitation. It finally seemed to wake and after looking around popped into the nest. We had excellent views of the bird as it popped its head out and looked around about 10 minutes later. Once satisfied that the coast was clear it flew out and started feeding on a nearby pine.
The palace has a stream with ponds which we walked around slowly in the heat. Wild Boar rootings were found in one spot and we also managed to sort out singing Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers.
Back at the lagoon, we walked a track close to the busy main road where we studied Ruff, some developing their extravagant breeding collars, Greenshanks and Black-winged Stilts. A Gull-billed Tern caught a crayfish in a tiny freshwater pool a few metres away from us, and was immediately chased by an indignant Whiskered Tern. The smaller bird had the upper wing as it claimed ownership of the pool and crayfish, which was dropped at our feet in the ensuing chase.
Monday 22nd April
Diving across the wide expanses of the Coto de Doñana we stopped frequently to watch birds. Crossing a river close to El Rocio we stopped to watch our first Turtle Doves sitting on wires, Green and Common sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover, and a pair of Red-rumped Swallows which nest under the bridge.
Crossing the Doñana marshes, Bee-eaters were abundant, Lesser Short-toed Larks common, and our first Whinchats were seen, and when we reached the swampy areas close to the Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre water birds abounded.
We made good time, despite the distractions, arriving at the interpretation centre ready for lunch but delayed by fantastic birds in the lagoons and reed beds around the building. Purple Herons rubbed wing-tips with Little and Cattle Egrets, all nesting together, Night-herons were more aloof - their colony was in a patch of reeds behind the others. Who knows where the Glossy Ibis were breeding? They popped up everywhere, mixed in with all the others.
On the water many ducks were feeding. These included Red-crested and Common Pochard. Most of the group went to search nearby bushes for migrant warblers but Lisa, Steve F. and Alan remained in the centre. Their find was a pair of Marbled Ducks which flew off in the direction the group had taken. This information led the others to find them, a rare species for the trip.
The search for migrants also paid off as Cetti's, Savi's, Melodious, Reed, five Western Bonelli's, Garden, Subalpine and two Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, and Whitethroat, were all found in tamarisk trees. Sadly, some of the views were poor. Towards the end of the walk John picked up Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart, but again views were not too good. This was made up for by stunning views of a small colony of Squacco Herons in the reeds. After a stop for refreshments and an unsuccessful attempt to find Spectacled Warbler, we returned to the hotel.
Tuesday 23rd April
We started the morning watching waders at El Rocio before setting off on the long journey - 355km - to Extremadura and the Finca Santa Marta. Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Ruff and Greenshanks were watched once more. In addition we saw bucket loads of Spoonbills quietly feeding, often overlooked, Booted Eagles over the woods behind - dot watching - a roosting Black Stork, and Collared Pratincoles swooping over the marshes.
In the flag iris, a Subalpine Warbler and Sedge Warbler were lured out closer to us by a singing Melodious Warbler in the trees behind.
On the journey, watching from the bus produced a Black Vulture, several Montagu's Harriers, the polluted Rio Tinto, plus wonderful pristine countryside north of Andalucia and as we entered southern Extremadura.
A splendid light lunch was enjoyed in a converted olive oil mill at Jabugo where Nightingales, a Robin, Chaffinches, Serins, Cetti's and Sardinian warblers were singing to welcome us. On our arrival at the Finca Santa Marta, we enjoyed good views of Azure-winged Magpies flitting beneath the White Storks' nests which mark the entrance. Barn and Red-rumped Swallows flitted around the buildings and, after dinner, at least five Scops Owls competing for our attention.
We enjoyed a reception given by Henry Elink-Schurman to welcome us at which he gave a history of the finca and urged us to give ideas of how the establishment could be improved. Few, if any, were given.
Wednesday 24th April
Ah! The Belen PlainÖSpain's steppe lands rolling across the landscape onwards to distant mountains. What an introduction to birding in Extremadura. And this year the birding was accompanied by a backdrop of colour to rival any artist's palate.
Within minutes of starting our first walk, on the edge of the plain, John heard and collectively we found a male Golden Oriole picking insects from the leaves of an almond tree.
Far in the background was a male Great Bustard displaying to unseen females and we watched it through telescopes, really as an insurance against not seeing another. There was no need to worry. John and Tim found several more across the plain, some big males, others immature birds yet to gain the 'plains master' status.
A few Little Bustards were also found and seen - one a displaying male which gave excellent views through telescopes. A pair of Stone Curlews was found by John and to our amazement the male started doing a courtship dance with head and tail both cocked up in a strange posture.
Griffons, Black Vultures, Montagu's Harriers, Calandra, Crested and Thekla Larks were found, but uniquely for the leaders, all became just part of a superb scene and ambience, created by the most dramatic blooming of the wild steppe plains.
Great swathes of blue, red, ochre, yellow and white flowers swept over the fields. Often cattle were grazing among them, the deep colour up to their bellies. It was a dramatic and beautiful scene which stole the show from the players upon it.
Lunch was taken near to a mixed colony of White Storks, Cattle Egrets, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings, Spanish and House Sparrows.
We returned slowly to the Finca Santa Marta watching Red Kites, Bee-eaters, loads of Southern Grey Shrikes, Lesser Kestrels, and Hoopoes, before enjoying afternoon tea and our own time to watch birds in the olive and almond orchards.
Thursday 25th April
There was nothing soft and cuddly about the huge cliffs and crags of Monfragüe Natural Park with their colonies of nesting Griffons. The countryside and birds are big and tough as various skirmishes were to prove.
We reached the park after a visit to the Embalse Arrocampo where Wood Sandpipers were found picking in the mud. Purple Gallinules, one feeding by holding a stem in its foot and pecking the tip away, a few Savi's and Cetti's warblers, a pair of Little Bitterns and a lone Black Tern were recorded before we set off for the park.
We did not get far before a herd of horses held us up in the narrow road. As we waited, John heard a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Rock Sparrows. We found the sparrows, albeit briefly, but not the woodpecker, despite searching hard. Eventually the horses were rounded up and we were able to get under way again.
Our first stop in Monfragüe was at an observation site opposite a sheer cliff used by Griffons and a lone pair of Black Storks for their nests. Another birder had already discovered one of our target species - an Eagle Owl roosting quietly under a tree on the cliff face. Although they are regular in the site this was the first Tim and John had seen this year - after several visits. The bird occasionally preened and on a few occasions seemed to blink down at the telescopes trained on it.
Soon after our arrival a beautifully marked Spanish Imperial Eagle arrived to soar with some of the Griffons above the cliff. It gave us wonderful views - the white leading edges of its wings showed that the bird was an adult and with care the 'braces' which run parallel to its body could be seen.
Suddenly John called our attention to a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle - a bird which looked quite like the now familiar Short-toed Eagle on first glance. As he was explaining the differences the Imperial Eagle took offence at the newcomer and mobbed it - with apparently serious intent. It made several lunges, each unsuccessful but drawing gasps from our group and other birders watching. Before leaving Tim spotted a Red Fox which was watched picking along the shoreline.
We moved on to have lunch under pine trees in which Crested Tits had nested. Their brood had fledged and we were able to see several youngsters flitting around waiting for the adults to return and feed them. As we finally tucked into the super Finca Santa Marta packed lunch we were able to watch a Spotted Flycatcher which entertained most of us over lunch.
The Peñafalcon observation site was almost as good. As we arrived a Rock Bunting was singing, accompanied by a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes and a Black Redstart. Crag Martins were swooping past and on the cliff opposite it was possible to look down into a Black Stork's nest. Amazingly, as one of the adults returned it was attacked by another Spanish Imperial Eagle which was accompanied by a young bird. The lunge was half-hearted and missed its mark but we were in no doubt that the bird would have eaten the stork had it been successful. Both eagles drifted off shortly afterwards.
The weather was still baking hot and we decided not to climb up to the castle, stopping at its car park instead. Red-billed Choughs flew down from the ramparts, past us and into the steep valley below, while Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows nested on the cliff face.
Stopping at a site where three bridges cross the Rio Almonte we were amazed to see a male Golden Oriole fly up from the trees and mob a passing Black Kite which was forced to 'jink' on several occasions as the persistent oriole made its feelings known.
The long day ended as we listened to Scops Owl while watching Jupiter (and its moons) the red planet Mars, Mercury, Saturn with its rings, and Venus, Orion's nebula, the double stars in part of the Plough and deep Moon craters.
Friday 26th April
Our last day on the steppe of Extremadura featured the Cáceres Plain where we hoped to fill some of the gaps in our bird list. We were not to be disappointed.
Minutes after turning onto a narrow road which cuts across the plain we heard the chattering call of a Great Spotted Cuckoo, the first of five which came up close enough for excellent views. Our attention was also drawn to calling male Little Bustards which looked as if they had been shopping for black and white sweaters at the Newcastle United supporters' shop. About 15 were ranged across the plain where we first stopped.
Moving on, a colony of Montagu's Harriers was found displaying over cornfields but a Roller seen performing the aerial manoeuvre which gives the bird its name deflected us. It was a stunning show as the brilliant blue bird first mobbed a Black Kite and then performed its courtship display. A second bird came up in response and the show was complete.
We drove down a track to a site which has produced sandgrouse in the past but only single Pin-tailed Sandgrouse were seen and then badly at a distance. Another bird was seen well as we had coffee in a nearby café but sadly it was stuffed one used as a joke by Tim and John.
Two spots on the Rio Almonte were given our wholehearted attention: at the first we saw another immature Spanish Imperial Eagle, our first Kingfisher, plus lots of Crag Martins, a Black Stork and a couple of Viperine Snakes, a relative of the British Grass Snake, cooling off in the river. Lunch was eaten at the second crossing over the river where a pair of Short-toed Eagles, a Grey Wagtail, Cirl Bunting, and a Sunperch which was a new fish for this trip.
Crossing the Cáceres Plain towards Trujillo, we were lucky to find a third Roller before returning to the Finca Santa Marta.
After a late tea we returned to the town where John led a walk along the battlements to see nesting White Storks, Jackdaws and Trujillo's wonderful Lesser Kestrel colony while Common Swifts screamed around the castle. Sadly, the main square was being set up for a cheese-tasting festival and had lost much of its charm.
Saturday 27th April
Our last morning of the trip was spent in the corn and rice fields around Vegas Altas looking for one or two of the birds we had missed to date. John and Tim were particularly keen to find Black-bellied Sandgrouse a species which is difficult at this time of year. Within minutes of starting the search a party of six was located as we flushed them from a field. Another 11 were finally seen in small parties or pairs, some of the extremely close to the buses.
The area is cultivated yet there were several calling Little Bustards, some of them showing well, two Great Bustards, a calling Quail and a few Montagu's Harriers putting on a show for us.
A search for Black-shouldered Kite was unsuccessful but gave us interesting views of Gull-billed Terns hunting the weedy fields and following ploughs. These are steppe birds for which fishing is a rare luxury. Their normal method of feeding is to hunt over land.
A stop for coffee at a roadside café allowed us to watch and hear a Cetti's Warbler which burst into song every time a car went past, and a Purple Heron as it flew over.
Our final call of the morning was at the Embalse Sierra Brava where a male Black-eared Wheatear showed well as did a drake Red-crested Pochard and lots of Great Crested Grebes. A big flock of Black-headed Gulls was feeding over the reservoir but there was no sign of the Cormorants which winter there.
After a tortilla lunch and siesta at the finca we visited the Rio Tozo and walked down the valley to the reservoir at the end. The flowers were beautiful, herbs sent up waves of scent, Kingfishers flew up and down the river and a few raptors soared above us. Among them was a pale-phase Booted Eagle, a pair of displaying Black Kites and two Egyptian Eagles. The lake had lots of Gadwall, two Common Sandpipers, a small cloud of Little Egrets among many other birds. We found a Woodlark's nest with five eggs, evidence of Otters and several species of dragonfly - including Red-veined Darter, Emperor and Club-tailed dragonflies on the walk back.
Our last day ended with a celebratory meal in Trujillo.
Sunday 28th April
Our trip to Madrid was uneventful and smooth although Tim's bus, in the lead, missed a fly-past Black-shouldered Kite which some of John's passengers were delighted to see.
The flight left a few minutes late but in keeping with modern airline schedules arrived in London ahead of schedule.
Farewells were said and, making the brochure claim come true, it was with reluctance that we dragged ourselves away.
The order followed in this list is that of Dr James F. Clements: Birds of the World - A Checklist
GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Laguna de Medina (two on 20th)
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Laguna de Medina (six on 20th)
Black-necked (Eared) Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Laguna de Medina (six on 20th)
SHEARWATERS & PETRELS Procellariiformes Procellariidae
Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea
Hotel Antonio (one on 18th, 19th); Cape Trafalgar (one on 20th)
Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan
Tarifa (17on 18th)
GANNETS & BOOBIES Pelecaniformes Sulidae
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
Tarifa (11 on 18th); Baelo Claudia Roman ruins and viewpoint (one on 19th); Cape Trafalgar (40 on 20th)
HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
A few daily, abundant on 22nd
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre, Coto de Doñana (50+ on 22nd); Madrigalejo (one over the café on 27th)
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
A few daily
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre (15+ on 22nd)
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre (six on 22nd); El Rocio (one on 23rd); Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 25th)
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre, Coto de Doñana (eight on 22nd); Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 25th)
STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Monfragüe Natural Park (eight on 25th); singles at El Rocio on 21st and 23rd, Santa Marta de Magasca on 26th
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Abundant daily; Baelo Claudia Roman ruins and viewpoint (two large flocks in off the sea on 19th)
IBIS & SPOONBILL Ciconiiformes Threskiornithidae
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre (30+ on 22nd)
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
El Rocio lagoon (50+ daily from 20th to 23rd)
FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopterid
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
El Rocio lagoon (hundreds daily from 20th to 23rd)
SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae
Greylag Goose Anser anser
El Rocio lagoon (six daily from 20th to 23rd)
Gadwall Anas strepera
Laguna de Medina (12+ on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (10+ daily from 20th to 23rd); Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 25th); Embalse de Tozo (15+ on 27th)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
A few daily
Garganey Anas querquedula
El Rocio lagoon (one on 23rd)
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
El Rocio lagoon (two on 20th, six on 23rd); Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre, Coto de Doñana (10 on 21st)
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre (3+ on 22nd)
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Laguna de Medina (8+ on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (common from 20th to 23rd); Embalse Sierra Brava (one on 27th)
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Laguna de Medina (40 on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (10 from 20th to 23rd)
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
Laguna de Medina (three pairs on 20th)
HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
En-route to Madrid (one on 28th)
Red Kite Milvus milvus
A few daily in Extremadura
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Common daily; Playa de los Lances (kettle of about 20 on 16th)
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Tarifa area (two on 18thand 19th); en-route to Extremadura (one on 23rd); Monfragüe Natural Park (6+ on 25th); Rio Tozo valley (two on 27th)
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
Common daily; abundant in Monfragüe Natural Park on 25th
Black (Cinereous) Vulture Aegypius monachus
El Rocio lagoon (one on 20th); a few daily in Extremadura; Monfragüe Natural Park (6+ on 25th)
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Tarifa area (three on 18th); various sites (six on 19th); Cape Trafalgar (two on 20th); Laguna de Medina (three on 20th); one or two daily in Extremadura
Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus
Tarifa area (two on 18th); Cape Trafalgar (one on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (singles on 20th and 22nd, two on 21st); Vegas Altas (one on 27th)
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Tarifa area (four on 18th, three on 19th); Cape Trafalgar (six in off the sea on 20th); a few daily; Cáceres Plain (25+ nesting in cornfields on 26th)
Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo
A few daily
Spanish (Imperial) Eagle Aquila adalberti
Monfragüe Natural Park (two adults and an immature on 25th); Rio Magasca (immature on 26th)
Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
La Janda, Tarifa area (stunning pair of adults on 18th); Monfragüe Natural Park (immature mobbed by Imperial Eagle on 25th)
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
A few daily; maximum six El Rocio area on 21st
FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Tarifa castle (7+ on 18th); Extremadura: common daily; Trujillo: colony of about 50 pairs nesting in the bullring
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
A few most days
PARTRIDGES & PHEASANTS Galliformes Phasianidae
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
One or two most days
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
El Rocio area (one calling on 20th and 21st); Santa Marta de Magascar (one heard on 26th); Vegas Altas (two heard on 27th)
RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Singles heard at the Palacio del Acebron (21st) and Embalse de Arrocampo (25th)
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre, Coto de Doñana (10+ on 22nd); Embalse de Arrocampo (six on 25th)
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
A few most days, common in the Coto de Doñana
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Laguna de Medina (two on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (one immature on 21st)
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Laguna de Medina (hundreds on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (scores on 20th - 23rd); Embalse Sierra Brave (six on 27th)
BUSTARDS Gruiformes Otididae
Great Bustard Otis tarda
Belen Plain (seven, including a displaying 'plains master', on 24th); Santa Marta de Magascar plain (male on 26th); Vegas Altas cornfields (four on 27th)
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax
Belen Plain (seven on 24th); Santa Marta de Magascar plain (20+ on 26th); Vegas Altas cornfields (six on 27th)
AVOCET & STILT Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Barbate estuary (five on 18th) Laguna de Medina (two on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (scores on 20th - 22nd)
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
El Rocio lagoon (nine 20th - 22nd)
THICK-KNEE Charadriiformes Burhinidae
Eurasian Thick-knee (Stone Curlew) Burhinus oedicnemus
Belen Plain (two on 24th), singles at Santa Marta de Magasca (26th) and Vegas Altas (27th)
PRATINCOLES Charadriiformes Glareolidae
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (four on 18th); Laguna de Medina (three on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (20+ on 20th, five on 21st); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (10 on 22nd); Vegas Altas (12 on 27th)
LAPWING & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
El Rocio (one on 22nd)
Eurasian Golden-plover Pluvialis apricaria
Playa de los Lances (one on 18th)
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (10 on 18th)
(Greater) Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (10 on 18th); Cape Trafalgar (six on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (30+ on 20th)
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
El Rocio lagoon (two on 20th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (two on 22nd); Embalse de Arrocampo (two on 25th)
Kentish (Snowy) Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (30+ on 18th); Hotel Antonio (four on 19th) El Rocio lagoon (six on 20th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (three on 22nd)
SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
El Rocio lagoon (one on 23rd)
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Barbate estuary (one on 20th)
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Barbate estuary (three on 20th)
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Jose Valverde Interpretation Centre (six on 22nd)
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
El Rocio lagoon (30+ from 20th to 23rd)
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Barbate estuary (one on 18th); El Rocio lagoon (20+ on 20th)
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (one on 22nd)
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 25th)
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Valdevaqueros estuary (three on 18th); El Rocio lagoon (six on 21st - 23rd); Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 25th); Vegas Altas (two on 27th)
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (two on 18th)
Sanderling Calidris alba
Tarifa area, common on beaches; Cape Trafalgar (20+ on 20th)
Little Stint Calidris minuta
El Rocio lagoon (seven on 21st, 25+ on 23rd)
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
El Rocio lagoon (40 on 21st, 70+ on 23rd)
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa area (eight on 18th); El Rocio lagoon (40 on 21st - 23rd)
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
El Rocio lagoon (15 on 21st, 100+ on 23rd)
SKUAS (JAEGERS) Charadriiformes Stercorariidae
Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) Stercorarius parasiticus
Tarifa harbour (one on 18th)
GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae
Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii
Beaches in the Tarifa area, a few daily
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans
Common daily on Tarifa beaches, a few at El Rocio lagoon
Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Tarifa beaches daily; El Rocio lagoon (one on 20th and 21st)
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Cape Trafalgar (three on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (three on 20th and 21st); Embalse Sierra Brava (100+ on 27th)
TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
El Rocio lagoon (one on 20th, six on 21st & 23rd, common 22nd); Embalse Sierra Brava (20+ on 27th)
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Barbate estuary (two on 18th, one on 20th); Cape Trafalgar (two on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (three on 20th)
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Beaches and sea in the Tarifa area, common daily
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
El Rocio lagoon (100+ on 20th, 21st and 22nd)
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Cape Trafalgar (three on 20th); El Rocio lagoon, common; Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 25th)
SANDGROUSE Pterocliformes Pteroclidae
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (16 on 22nd); Santa Marta de Magasca (three on 26th)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
Madrigalejo corn fields (17 on 26th)
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae
Rock Dove Columba livia
Common in towns daily
Common Wood-pigeon Columba palumbus
Palacio del Acebron (one on 21st); daily Extremadura
Eurasian Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur
Hotel Antonio (two on 18th) Laguna de Medina (six on 20th); El Rocio lagoon (six on 20th); then daily
Eurasian Collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto
Common in towns daily
CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Santa marta de Magasca (five on 26th)
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Cazalla viewpoint and Baelo Claudia Roman ruins and viewpoint (singles on 19th); then a few almost daily
OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae
European Scops-owl Otus scops
Calling nightly at the Finca Santa Marta, one seen briefly
Eurasian Eagle-owl Bubo bubo
Monfragüe NP (one roosting on 25th)
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
El Rocio (one heard on 21st)
Little Owl Athene noctua
Tarifa area (one on 18th was still there on 19th); Belen Plain (two on 24th)
SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
Merida (eight on 23rd); Monfragüe NP (15+ on 25th)
Common Swift Apus apus
Common daily from 19th
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Common Tarifa area; a few at El Rocio; large colony in Trujillo
KINGFISHER Coraciiformes Alcedinidae
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Rio de Magasca (two on 26th); Rio Tozo valley (four on 27th)
BEE-EATER Coraciiformes Meropidae
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Common to abundant daily, for example: Huerta Grande interpretation centre (50+ on 19th), Cazalla viewpoint (20+ on 19th); Cape Trafalgar (two flocks of about 20 in off the sea on 20th); El Rocio area (big passage of hundreds on 21st)
ROLLER Coraciiformes Coraciidae
European Roller Coracias garrulus
Watching Rollers roll in their display flights was one of the best sights of this trip. Santa Marta de Magasca (three on 26th); Vegas Altas (three on 27th)
HOOPOE Coraciiformes Upupidae
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Single at the Palacio del Acebron on 21st in a nest hole and then feeding
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
One heard close to Monfragüe NP on 25th
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (two on 19th); singles at the Palacio del Acebron on 21st and Monfragüe NP on 25th
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Booted Eagle at the Palacio del Acebron prevented one from entering its nest hole on 21st, heard only; Finca Santa Marta one heard and seen daily
LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Tarifa area (10+ on 18th); a few daily in the Coto de Doñana; common on the plains of Extremadura
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa (20+ on 18th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (20+ on 22nd)
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
Baelo Claudia Roman ruins and viewpoint (one on 19th); Belen Plain (two on 24th); Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 26th)
Wood Lark Lullula arborea
Common daily in Extremadura
SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae
Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) Riparia riparia
A few daily at El Rocio
Eurasian Crag-martin Hirundo rupestris
Common in Extremadura
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
Tarifa area (one on 18th); common daily in the Coto de Doñana and Extremadura
House Martin Delichon urbica
WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Fairly common daily
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa (10+ on 18th including Blue-headed and British races); a few daily in El Rocio; Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 27th)
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (one on 19th); singles daily in Extremadura
CRESTS (KINGLETS) Passeriformes Regulidae
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (seven on 19th)
WREN Passeriformes Troglodytidae
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (four heard on 19th); Finca Santa Marta (one nesting in the wood-pile)
THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae
Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius
Zahara roundabout rock face (two on 18th); Monfragüe NP (6+ on 25th); Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 26th)
Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
A few daily
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Laguna de Medina (one on 20th)
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Close to Monfragüe NP (four on 25th)
CISTICOLA Passeriformes Cisticolidae
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
El Rocio, Coto de Doñana, Extremadura, common daily
Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Coto de Donana (two heard on 22nd); Embalse de Arrocampo (4+ on 25th)
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Migrants seen and heard in El Rocio daily
Eurasian Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
El Acebuche (one heard on 22nd)
Great Reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Laguna de Medina (six on 20th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (common on 22nd)
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Baelo Claudia viewpoint (one on 19th); singles most days in El Rocio and Extremadura
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (two on 22nd)
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybeta
El Acebuche (one on 22nd)
Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus brehmii
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (three on 19th)
Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (one on 19th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (five on 22nd); singles heard at Santa Marta de Magasca (26th) and Rio Tozo (27th)
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Tarifa area (two males on 18th); Huerta Grande interpretation centre (several on 19th); Jose Valverde interpretation centre (two males on 22nd); Rio Tozo (two singing on 27th)
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (one on 22nd)
Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (female on 22nd)
Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis
Monfragüe NP (one on 25th)
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (two on 22nd); oe en-route on 23rd; Monfragüe NP (two on 25th)
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
A few most days
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (one on 22nd)
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
Palacio del Acebron (six on 21st); en-route (one on 23rd)
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
El Acebuche (one on 22nd); Monfrague NP (one on 25th)
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (two females on 22nd);Merida (female on 23rd); Santa Marta de Magasca (three on 26th)
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (one heard on 19th); en-route (two singing on 23rd)
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Common in most places - heard singing every day
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Monfrague NP (two males on 25th)
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (three on 22nd)
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Jose Valverde interpretation centre (six on 22nd)
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
One or two most days
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
Baelo Claudia Roman ruins (super pair on 19th); Monfragüe NP (three on 25th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 27th)
LONG-TAILED TIT Passeriformes Aegithalidae
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Palacio del Acebron (two on 21st); two at Monfrague NP (25th), Santa Marta de Magasca (26th) and Rio Tozo (27th)
TITS (CHICKADEES) Passeriformes Paridae
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (two on 19th)
Great Tit Parus major
A few most days
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
A few most days
NUTHATCHES Passeriformes Sittidae
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Monfragüe NP (one at nest hole on 25th)
CREEPER Passeriformes Certhiidae
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
Palacio del Acrebron (two on 21st); Finca Santa Marta (common in the olive grove)
ORIOLES Passeriformes Oriolidae
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Belen Plain (two on 24th); Monfrague NP (one on 25th); Santa Marta de Magasca (one singing on 26th); Rio Tozo (one on 26th)
SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae
Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
Palacio del Acebron (one on 21st); Extremadura, one or two daily except Belen Plain (17 on 24th)
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Playa de los Lances, Tarifa (one on 18th); Baelo Claudia Roman ruins and viewpoint (one on 19th)
CORVIDS Passeriformes Corvidae
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana
Common most days in the Coto de Doñana and Extremadura
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
A few in the El Rocio area, common in Extremadura
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Pair at Monfrague Castle on 25th
Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Common in the Coto de Donana and Extremadura
Common Raven Corvus corax
STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor
OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Small flocks almost daily in Extremadura
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
A small population at the overflow hotel in El Rocio
Rock Petronia Petronia petronia
Close to Monfragüe NP entrance (two on 25th)
WAXBILLS & ALLIES Passeriformes Estrildidae
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
Two en-route (23rd); Vagas Altas (one on 27th)
Red Avadavat Amandava amandava
Vegas Altas (6+ on 27th)
FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Huerta Grande interpretation centre (eight on 19th); Palacio del Acebron (six on 21st); Extremadura common daily
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
A few most days
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina
European Serin Serinus serinus
Tarifa area (6+ on 18th); Huerta Grande interpretation centre (8+ on 19th); common in the Coto de Doñana and Extremadura
BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Mirador del Estrecho (a pair on 19th)
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Monfragüe NP (two on 25th)
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
Coto de Donana (three on 22nd); a few road kills
Iberian Hare Lepus sp*
Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 26th)
MICE Rodentia Muridae
Long-tailed Field (Wood) Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus
Rio Toza (one dead under a metal sheet on 27th)
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus
El Rocio (road kill on 23rd)
CATS Carnivora Felidae
Cat sp. (Wild Cat or Iberian Lynx)
Doñana marshes (one ran across a track on 22nd)
DOGS & FOXES Carnivora Canidae
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
Singles en-route (23rd) and Monfragüe NP (25th)
OTTERS Carnivora Mustelidae
European Otter Lutra lutra
Rio Tozo (Sleeping hollow and scats 27th)
HEDGEHOGS Lipotyphla Erinaceidae
Western European Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus
A number of road kills
VESPER BATS Chiroptera Vespertilionidae
El Rocio (small bat on 22nd)
MOLES Lipotyphla Talpidae
European Mole Talpa europaea
Rio Tozo (mole hills on 27th)
MARINE DOLPHINS Cete Delphinidae
Orca Orcinus orca
Zahara de los Atunes (male and two females hunting outside the tuna nets on 19th)
DEER Artiodactyla Cervidae
Red Deer Cervus elaphus
El Rocio lagoon (four on 23rd)
Fallow Deer Dama dama
El Rocio lagoon (16 on 23rd)
*The hares here are thought to belong to the African species Lepus capensis, though may just be a race of the European Brown Hare Lepus europaeus.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES
European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) - one bright green individual on a stem in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 27th; Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) - a dark green individual on a piece of cork floating on a swimming pool at Huerta Grande on 19th; Iberian Pool Frog (Rana perezi) was frequent in the rivers and pools, with individuals seen and / or its 'laughing' heard in various places on 20th - 23rd and 25th and 26th. Moorish Geckos (Tarentola mauretanica) were notably absent at Finca Santa Marta, but at the Hotel Los Mimbrales, there were 20+ on 20th, 40+ on 21st and 60+ on 22nd; Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) one at the Río Almonte on 25th, two at Santa Marta de Magasca on 26th and singles at Finca Santa Marta and in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 27th; Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) just three+ on the Belén plain on 24th; a beautiful Spiny-footed Lizard (Psammodromus hispanicus) ran along a sandy path in front of us at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st; 3-toed Skink (Chalcides chalcides) one caught by the river at Valdevaqueros on 18th; one Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica) was on the low wall by the carpark at Huerta Grande on 19th; a fine Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) was on a low wall by the Río Almonte on 25th; a Schreiber's Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) ran across the road in front of the first bus by the Laguna de Medina on 22nd; the numerous terrapins seen at Valdevaqueros on 18th, Río Magasca on 26th and Embalse del Tozo on 27th were Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys caspica); a small Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) was seen by Stan on the Belén plain on 24th, with three in the Río Magasca on 26th.
Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) were making sucking sounds at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 25th; Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis) were abundant in the Río Magasca on 26th; Sun Perch (??) a couple were present in the Río Magasca on 26th; Grey Mullet sp. (Mugil sp.) plenty were present in the river at Valdevaqueros on 18th.
Swallowtail: Singles at Cazalla on 19th, Laguna de Medina on 20th and Finca Santa Marta on 26th.
Spanish Festoon: Two+ at Huerta Grande on 19th, one at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, two+ in the Doñana marshes on 22nd, six+ on the Belén plai on 24th and two by the Río Tozo on 27th.
Large White: Several at different sites on 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th and 27th.
Small White: Only specifically identified in the Doñana marshes, but common there with a significant influx on 22nd.
Western Dappled White: Although none were seen well, one in the Doñana marshes on 22nd and two on the Belén plain on 24th.
Green-striped White: Just one seen well, by the José Antonio Valverde Interpretation Centre in the Doñana marshes on 22nd.
Orange-tip: Just one male by the Río Tozo on 27th.
Clouded Yellow: One on 18th, two at Baelo Claudia on 19th, a few at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st and thousands in the Doñana marshes on 22nd.
Brimstone: One or two, possibly of this species at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st.
Cleopatra: One+ at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, and a few on both 25th and 26th at different sites.
Provence Hairstreak: One in the Tarifa area on 18th.
Small Copper: Two at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, 10+ on the Belén plain on 24th, 1+ on 26th and two+ by the Río Tozo on 27th.
Brown Argus: One at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, common on the Belén plain on 24th and also along the Río Tozo on 27th.
Common Blue: Two at Baelo Claudia on 19th, a few on the Belén plain on 24th and a few also on 26th and along the Río Tozo on 27th.
Red Admiral: One at the Laguna de Medina on 20th, two in the Doñana marshes on 22nd, at least one in Monfragüe N.P. on 25th and singles at Finca Santa Marta and by the Embalse de Sierra Brava on 27th.
Painted Lady: At least two in the Tarifa area on 18th.
Spanish Marbled White: Two on the Belén plain on 24th.
Small Heath: One neat Tarifa on 18th, lots on the Belén plain on 24th and plenty at various sites on 26th and 27th; all of the large spp. lillus.
Southern Speckled Wood: At least two at Huerta Grande on 19th and lots at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st.
Red-underwing Skipper: One by the Río Tozo on 27th.
Mallow Skipper: One by the Laguna de Medina on 20th.
Insects included a Cinnabar Moth (Thyria jacobea) at the Laguna de Medina on 20th, single Iberian Blue-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura graelsii) at El Rocío on 21st and in the Doñana marshes on 22nd, a blue damselfly sp. - 10+ on 20th at the Laguna de Medina and lots over the Río Magasca on 26th, a Club-tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus simillimus) by the Río Tozo on 27th, lots of Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombei) at the Leguna de Medina on 20th and a male by the Río Tozo on 27th, a female Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) on the Belén plain on 24th, and Emperor Dragonflies (Anax imperator) by the Río Magasca on 26th and Río Tozo (2) on 27th. A few Egyptian Grasshoppers (Anacridium aegyptium) were noted on four days with 6+ at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, the large dark purple Violet Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa violacea) was also seen at various sites on four days, Dung Beetles (Scarabaeus semipunctatus) were noted on 18th, and in the Doñana area on 21st and 22nd, single Rhinoceros Beetles (Copris lunaris) were seen at Zahara de los Atunes on 18th and 19th, Oil Beetles (Meloe sp.) were seen en route on 20th, were common on the Belén plain on 24th and three were by the Río Tozo on 27th, and the three+ extraordinary metallic-coloured Wood-boring Beetles (Buprestidae) at the Palacio del Acebrón on 21st, Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris) were heard trilling at numerous sites at least from 23rd to 27th and single Mole Crickets (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa) were found in El Rocío and on the Belén plain on 23rd. Other invertebrates included the often large, potentially dangerous and unpleasant-looking Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata) by the Río Tozo on 27th.
This (perhaps surprisingly long) list has been drawn up after some post-trip work using Blamey & Grey-Wilson's Mediterranean Wild Flowers, García Rollán's "Atlas clasificatorio de la flora de España peninsular y balear" and the 'Flora y vegetación de Extremadura'.
[Nos. on the right refer to Grey-Wilson & Blamey, Mediterranean Wild Flowers]
Pinaceae: Pinus pinea Stone / Umbrella Pine (3)
Fagaceae: Quercus rotundifolia Evergreen / Holm Oak (26)
Quercus suber Cork Oak (27)
Quercus pyrenaica Pyrenean Oak (c.31)
Ulmaceae: Ulmus minor Elm sp. (c. 38)
Celtis australis Southern Nettle Tree (39)
Aristolochiaceae: Aristolochia paucinervis Birthwort sp. (c. 64)
Caryophyllaceae: Paronychia argentea Paronychia (prob. this sp.) (136)
Spergularia purpurea Purple Spurrey (148)
Silene colorata Catchfly sp. (180)
Ranunculaceae: Ranunculus sp. Water Crowfoot sp.
Fumariaceae: Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory (prob. this sp.) (303)
Crassulaceae: Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort (396)
Rosaceae: Rosa canina Common Dogrose (c. 404)
Leguminosae: Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree (430)
Lygos sphaerocarpa Lygos (common broom-like plant) (478)
Spartium junceum Spanish Broom (481)
Adenocarpus argyrophyllus Spanish Adenocarpus (482)
Lupinus luteus Yellow Lupin (483)
Lupinus angustifolius Narrow-leaved Lupin (486)
Trifolium stellatum Starry Clover (662)
Anthyllis tetraphylla Bladder vetch (691)
Hedysarum coronarium Italian Sainfoin / French Honeysuckle (710)
Onobrychis humilis Milk-vetch sp. (c. 717)
Oxalidaceae: Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup (735)
Geraniaceae: Geranium molle Dove's-foot Crane's-bill (741)
Erodium botrys Storksbill sp. (758)
Rutaceae: Ruta chalepensis Fringed Rue (827)
Thymelaeaceae: Daphne gnidium Mediterranean Daphne (936)
Cistaceae: Cistus albidus Grey-leaved Cistus (big pink fls) (961)
Cistus salviifolius Sage-leaved Cistus (small white) (965)
Cistus monspeliensis Narrow-leaved Cistus (966)
Cistus ladanifer Gum Cistus (big white fls) (971)
Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose (small yellow) (985)
Xolantha ?tuberaria Rockrose sp. (purple-red & yellow) (c. 985)
Cactaceae: Opuntia maxima (=ficus-indica) Prickly Pear (1040)
Umbelliferae: Scandix pecten-veneris Shepherd's Needle (1097)
Ferula communis Giant Fennel (1141)
Ericaceae: Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree (1176)
Erica arborea Tree Heath (1178)
Plumbaginaceae: Armeria sp. Thrift sp. (there are 47 spp. in Iberia)
Limonium sinuatum Winged Sea Lavender (1220)
Oleaceae: Phillyrea angustifolia (1245)
Olea europaea Olive (1248)
Rubiaceae: Sherardia arvensis Field Madder
Boraginaceae: Cerinthe major var. purpurascens Honeywort (1367)
Cerinthe ?minor Lesser Honeywort (1368)
Echium plantagineum Purple Viper's Bugloss (1383)
Omphalodes linifolia Annual Omphalodes (1399)
Anchusa azurea Large Blue Alkanet (1409)
Labiatae: Teucrium fruticans Tree Germander (1429)
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary (1526)
Lavandula stoechas French Lavender (1528)
Solanaceae: Hyosciamus albus White Henbane (1555)
Scrophularicaea: Verbascum sp. Mullein sp. (1601)
Linaria spartea Yellow-flowered Toadflax (c. 1614)
Parentucellia latifolia Bartsia sp. (1652)
Orobancaceae: Orobanche minor Common Broomrape (1664)
Orobanche hederae Ivy Broomrape (c. 1664)
Orobanche loricata Oxtongue (=Picris) Broomrape (1665)
Orobanche amethystea 'Amethyst' Broomrape (1667)
Orobanche rapum-genistae Greater Broomrape (1670)
Orobanche ?foetida 'Stinking' Broomrape (1674)
Orobanche crenata 'Bean' Broomrape (1675)
Compositae: Bellis annua Annual Daisy (1791)
Santolina rosmarinifolia Lavender Cotton sp. (1856)
Chrysanthemum coronarium Crown Daisy (1895)
Galactites tomentosum Galactites (1971)
Silybum marianum Milk Thistle (1982)
Cirsium eriophorum Woolly Thistle (1986)
Asphodelus fistulosus Hollow-leaved Asphodel (2087)
Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel (2089)
Ornithogalum ?narbonense Star-of-Bethlehem sp. (2171)
Dipcadi serotinum Dipcadi / Brown Bluebell (2178)
Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth (2201)
Allium triquetrum Three-cornered Leek (2229)
Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop-petticoat Narcissus (2281)
Iridaceae: Gynandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris (2305)
Palmae: Chamaerops humilis Dwarf Fan Palm (2357)
Orchidaceae: Orchis papilionacea grandiflora Pink Butterfly Orchid (2401)
Orchis champagneuxii Champagne Orchid (2405)
Orchis coriophora Bug Orchid (2408)
Serapias lingua Tongue Orchid (2451)
Gramineae: Lamarckia aurea Golden Dog's-tail (2459)