Andalucia in spring

26 March – 2 April, 2005


Tim Earl

Ray Nowicki


  • Seeing the lagoon at El Rocio for the first time: all those Flamingos, Spoonbills, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Whiskered Terns… the list was more than 50 species long.

  • Peregrine teasing an Avocet which was forced to dive for some time before escaping.

  • Scores of bats including Greater Horseshoe on our first early morning session (more like late-night session – Ed).

  • More than 100 Iberian Azure Winged Magpies flying past us into an umbrella pine wood.

  • Several Purple Herons in the reeds at the Coto de Doñana interpretation centre.

  • Short-toed Eagle doing huge circuits which included the interpretation centre for at least two hours.

  • The comparison between Black and Red Kites seen together over the marsh. We will never confuse them again (until the next time – Ed).

  • Nightingales in full song, some competing with Cetti’s Warblers.

  • Red-knobbed Coot with white neck collar, nicknamed Vicar Coot.

  • Four Caspian Terns at Huelva.

  • Seeing Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar for the first time.

  • A stream of raptors which had left Africa coming across to make landfall and start gaining height in the first thermal they could find.


Saturday 26th March

To El Rocio and the lagoon

Seeing the lagoon at El Rocio [indeed, seeing El Rocio] for the first time is quite an experience. Hundreds of Greater Flamingos dot the surface, while thousands of Coots add contrast to their pink plumes.

And as the eye starts to take in the scene one realises that there are masses of other birds to be watched. But which first? Is it the Avocets, Spoonbills or Whiskered Terns? Do Gadwall, Collared Pratincoles or Peregrine inspire one?

The drive down from Seville Airport was fairly uneventful except for a few Black Kites and one Booted Eagle which raised hopes for the week ahead.

The lagoon at El Rocio is a remarkable place – just a few metres from a major Spanish place of pilgrimage, yet backing on to possibly one of the top three most important marshes in Europe, the Coto de Doñana.

And it was teeming with birds. When we first arrived there were more than 1,000 Greater Flamingos (some moved back onto the marshes later) and even more Eurasian Coots. Shovelers where abundant and there were lots of Pochard.

Scattered among the Coots were several Glossy Ibis, lots of Spoonbills and a few White Storks. Waders were well represented with three-figure numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Black-winged Stilts and Avocets. Indeed, it was the Avocets which seemed to attract a Peregrine which dived on a flock a couple of times before picking on one bird which in its fear crashed into the water and, amazingly, dived out of sight. It remained under for a long time but eventually surfaced far enough away from the hovering falcon to escape.

Collared Pratincoles were common and easy to spot in flight, although trying to get good views of them on the ground was not so easy. We ‘scoped four eventually.

A walk along El Rocio’s promenade put the light in a better angle and we enjoyed views of Red-rumped Swallows but, search as we did, no Red-knobbed Coots were found.

Some of us returned to the former interpretation centre where we saw five Marsh Sandpipers, Dunlin and a small flock of Bee-eaters.

The trip had got off to a great start despite only a short time for our initial birding.

El Rocio lagoon (Photo: David Harris)

Easter Sunday 27th March

Coto de Doñana

A senior moment for Tim lasted a long time as he tried to find the entrance to the Coto de Doñana Natural Park. Roads had been changed, fences erected and it was difficult to remember the way, he said feebly.

The lost group could thus only give him the credit when, as we stopped to turn around after taking a wrong road, we watched a flock of more than 150 Iberian Azure-winged Magpies fly past. Reasonable ‘scoped views of some were obtained.

Tim’s start to the day was a bit off too. His 7am walk turned into a bat-detecting session (there were scores ravaging the local insect population, including Greater Horseshoe picked up on a bat detector and seen flitting past) with views of Jupiter and its moons thrown in. Light finally arrived at 7.50 quickly followed by a dense fog, so we were outside the breakfast room when it opened at 8am.

The luck changed, however, upon entering the park. From the start we were bombarded with birds with Calandra Larks and Bee-eaters at the first stop. Indeed, the day ended with five species of lark – Skylark, Greater and Lesser Short-toed and Crested Larks joining the former.

Hoopoes were plentiful and Black Kites abundant, with a few Red Kites for comparison.

Water birds included Purple, Grey, Squacco and Black-crowned Night-herons, an amazing 120 Purple Gallinules (Swamphens) or more, Wood, Common and Green sandpipers, Greenshank, Redshank and Spotted Redshank, Little Ringed Plover and Ruff.

But it was the ambiance of Doñana which gave pleasure too. The flat agricultural landscape, ‘marismas’ and marshes. Drainage ditches held herons, fields had flocks of larks and the tamarisk bushes held warblers – such as the obliging Subalpine male which we all saw so well.

A stunning Short-toed Eagle hung over our heads several times as it looked down for snakes. Perhaps it had seen the small dead Viperine Snake, run over by a vehicle.

By the end of the day we had all become used to Black Kites and were able to pick out the ‘odd raptors’ such as Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Montagu’s and Hen Harriers. Migrating shrikes were common although all but one Red-backed Shrike – a great rarity for Doñana – were Woodchats.

Corn Buntings were the most common bird. We saw our first half-dozen when we stopped at the Arroyo de Palmosa, a small river which flows into the lagoon at El Rocio.

Other exciting small birds included a good number of Tree Sparrows, lots of Linnets and a glut of Goldfinches, while Yellow Wagtails flitted almost everywhere and Barn Swallows were clearly migrating hard.

Our flock of Iberian Azure-winged Magpies was accompanied by a stream of Common Swifts with a few Pallid Swifts for good measure. Another migrant was the first Cuckoo of the year. Four Red-legged Partridges were seen and a ‘kettle’ of Griffon Vultures soon became dots as they rose on a particularly strong thermal.

A good picnic lunch was eaten, late, at the Cerrado Garrido interpretation centre where we saw lots of Purple Herons, Gadwall and our first Great Crested Grebe. A Moorish Gecko was sunbathing minus his tail – clearly he had escaped a close call at some time.

After exploring the marshes we returned to El Rocio tired (it was 7.30pm on a day when the clocks has been put forward into summer time) but delighted with our encounter with the Spanish marshes of Doñana.

Monday 28th March

El Acebuche natural park, Palacio del Acebrón

Our timing was better today with 30 minutes before breakfast to admire the lagoon’s birds. We were rewarded with Common Sandpiper and Moustached Warbler, only the third ever seen on Doñana, plus a great sunrise lighting up our local birds.

The main part of the trip was to La Rocina and the Palacio del Acebrón.

Our arrival in the former was greeted by the glorious songs of Nightingales in almost every clump of bushes. A few were seen by some group members but the same could not be said for the Cetti’s Warblers which kept themselves out of sight all day.

We found a few Dartford and Sardinian Warblers before driving to the Palace where an enjoyable couple of hours were spent walking the grounds. The weather was cloudy with a cool breeze giving us the opportunity to enjoy a good walk.

Booted Eagles were passing over almost continually and our day count ended at about 20. Singing Short-toed Treecreepers were seen after a bit of a search, prompting the question: why are so many Spanish birds named ‘short-toed’ (eagle, lesser and greater larks and treecreeper)? There are some things the leaders cannot answer.

Ray showed brilliant field-craft by finding a Hawfinch which turned out to be a life bird for many. About 20 Griffon Vultures appeared and formed a kettle to make use of a thermal, giving us good views as they did.

After searching unsuccessfully for Iberian Chiffchaff, finding Blackcaps and Crested Tits instead, we called it a day and after a picnic lunch drove down to the Marismas del Odiel near Huelva, a new site for both leaders.

We found Red-knobbed Coot on a small pond – an individual whose neck ring indicated that it was one released as part of a reintroduction programme. The ‘Vicar Coot’ was sharing its pond with two pairs of Red-crested Pochards and a Spotted Redshank among many other birds.

Our first Caspian Tern was seen towards the end of the marismas area but a further three flew close to the buses as we drove back through Huelva’s port area.

The day had been quieter than yesterday’s visit to the Coto de Doñana but was no less enjoyable.

Tuesday 29th March

El Acebuche, Laguna Medina and on to Zahara

Highlights of a travelling day are usually few and far between but Savi’s Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie and seeing a singing Cetti’s Warbler all ranked high today.

We made a good start, leaving the hotel at 9am for El Acebuche natural reserve where we had a delightful time.

We paused in the car park to watch gangs of delinquent Azure-winged Magpies raiding the rubbish bins and chasing each other around quite oblivious to our presence. Spotless Starlings were on the roof of the recently refurbished interpretation centre, but we did not linger setting off across the board-walks which protect the delicate sand-dune habitat.

A Woodchat Shrike popped up to watch us and we were also distracted by a fine pair of Stonechats in the scrub.

Tim’s ears suddenly pricked up as he heard the distant reeling of a Savi’s Warbler. We hoofed it to the nearest hide where two were found on reed-stems some distance away. A stunning Spoonbill in full breeding plumage was closer as was a Purple Swamp-hen, its deep colours contrasting with the Spoonbill’s white plumage.

We left the hide and walked down to another some way away, disturbing a Great Spotted Cuckoo on the way down. The sound of reeling was much louder at the second hide and we found another two Savi’s Warblers on reed-stems, one close enough to show us the red gape in side its beak.

Our time at the centre was limited so after a cup of coffee we set off for Zahara.

Being Travelling Naturalists, we stopped 10km down the road (before we had even reached El Rocio) to check for Black-winged Kite. One was sitting in a tree some distance away but as we put the ‘scopes on it the bird flew and started to display to a hidden mate below.

With wings raised above the body it flew, bat-like, for some minutes. Sadly, it was a long way off and only a few people were able to admire the black stripes on the shoulders or its wonderful display.

Lunch was due to be eaten at the Laguna de Medina but an over-shoot on the motorway gave us a 45-minute diversion and we arrived late.

Worried about the security of the buses, Tim stayed behind while Ray led a walk around the lake. A new hide which looked promising was sadly locked but the elevated walk allowed us to records Gadwall, Shoveler, Coot and Whiskered Tern. Black-necked and Great Crested grebes were also seen on the walk but a singing Cetti’s Warbler was a delight to everyone who saw it.

We left the lake late at 5pm but a new road built down almost to the coast got us to Barbate and onwards to Zahara de los Atunes but 6.15pm. After the call-over and briefing we assembled in the restaurant, with cameras at the ready to record the wonderful sunset. Happily, the food matched the setting and we retired to bed well pleased with the day.

Wednesday 30th March

The Straits and raptor migration

Seeing Morocco, Africa, the Dark Continent, looming up out of the mist was one of the highlights of this trip. So too was the stream of raptors crossing the Straits of Gibraltar, making landfall and finding the first thermal to gain height on arrival in Europe.

The romance of migration and the enormity of the journeys these birds make was apparent to us all as we stood at the Mirador del Estrecho overlooking Mt Djebel Mousa in Morocco.

Lots of Booted Eagles were first up the valley below us, rising to join Griffon Vultures as they gained height. The occasional Short-toed Eagle was seen and Black Kites came across in small groups. A flock of Bee-eaters burbled overhead. It was a great spot to be in.

We had started the day with a trip down to the beach where we watched Kentish Plovers and Sanderlings on the rolling sands. A couple of Great Skuas loafed past and one or two Gannets were also seen.

A group of Audouin's Gulls was found by Tim and we all admired the clean lines and features of this rare bird.

We left the beach for breakfast to the sound of a singing Nightingale.

The short drive to Tarifa was slowed slightly by fog at the start but Montagu’s Harrier and Red-legged Partridge were still seen on the way down. We stopped at Playa de los Lances where a flock of roosting Sandwich Terns hosted a Mediterranean Gull and more Audouin's Gulls were in with Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed gulls.

Kentish Plover were common in the grassy areas while Little Stints were feeding next to Grey Plovers and Ringed Plovers.

Larks were singing – Calandra, Crested and Skylark were all in the air at once on more than one occasion. There was little sign of the hoped-for migration, however, so we retired to the town, a coffee, tortilla and Lesser Kestrels.

Driving into the hills we rose steadily until we reached the Mirador. After the excitement there a visit to the Cazalla Raptor Observation Point seemed quiet although Swallowtail, Spanish Festoon and Cleopatra butterflies were all seen well as others watched White Storks and Black Kites.

As the afternoon wore on we decided to do a spot of sea-watching at Cabo de Trafalgar where little was passing on the sea and we had to be content with a few Gannets, Audouin's Gulls, a Cormorant, an Oystercatcher and a Razorbill found by David.

Flamingos were feeding in the River at Barbate as we crossed the bridge. We decided not to stop but return before breakfast the following morning.

Thursday 31st March

Barbate, Gibraltar and a Roman fish-paste factory

Our early morning trip top Barbate was not too productive – a high tide, strong easterly wind and poor light saw to that. But we did see about 18 Flamingos, a flock of Cormorants with thigh-patches showing, and a few gulls. We resolved to return tomorrow.

The trip was not a waste of time, however. Stopping to look for Blue Rock Thrush at the entrance to Zahara, Brianne found a sheltering male Ring Ouzel which allowed us all excellent views.

Returning after breakfast to the Mirador del Estrecho, its delights of yesterday were memories too. The wind almost blew us away from the viewpoint and little was seen.

All that changed when we arrived at the wooded valley which houses the Huerta Grande Interpretation Centre, despite hordes of children having an adventure day and chanting propaganda at full volume.

A Firecrest, the first of many, and 12 Siskins delayed our descent to the centre and a pair of Hawfinches held us up further. They were to join with four more to give us perfect views a few minutes later.

A Robin, Chaffinches, titmice and Short-toed Treecreepers entertained us until we set off on a walk around the area. A Crested Tit, the first of four, was spotted as we set off along with a Garden Warbler - distinguished by its lack of distinguishing features.

A brick-red butterfly distracted us next. It was a Monarch, part of a population has bred in the area for some time.

Blackcaps were common, ticking and singing at us, a few raptors such as Griffons and Booted Eagles, drifted overhead and out first Sparrowhawk joined them.

The café was due to open at 11.30am but all was quiet at 1pm when we set off on a walk. It was just opening when we returned to be told that 11 lunches would take 45minutes to prepare. We went to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed a light lunch [er, three courses – Ed].

Our next stop was a raptor observation point at Puerto de Bolonia, overlooking the Roman site of Baelo Claudia. The wind was too strong and we dropped down to the Roman remains.

While Ray went off to look for binoculars left at the restaurant we walked the ancient fish-paste factory, missing Black-eared Wheatear but getting great views of Thekla Lark.

Other birds included Woodchat Shrike, several finch flocks, including stunning Linnets, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.

Three Ocellated Lizards put in an appearance and another Monarch butterfly was seen.

The day ended quite late at 7pm but we agreed that it had been super.

Friday 1st April, All Fools Day

Playa de los Lances, Tarifa harbour wall, Cazilla observation post, La Janda and Barbate again

The day did not good on rising – a gale force levantine wind was blowing from the east. Migrating raptors were likely to be pinned down in Morocco and there were no passerine migrants in the sand dunes on our pre-breakfast walk.

A few harriers were seen coming ashore just after breakfast and we contemplated what to do – stay at the hotel or move off.

The leaders decided to stick to our plans, however, and we were soon back on Playas de los Lances beach, just outside Tarifa. The situation there was no better. Indeed, so strong was the wind that we had trouble standing, let alone watching the Audouin’s Gulls, Sandwich Terns, plovers, Dunlin and other waders.

Decamping to the town was our next move. We were able to get permission to walk down to Tarifa’s breakwater where, still in raging winds, we did a 30-minute seawatch. The reward was seeing shearwaters, Gannets, Common Scoters and a flock of auks which were probably Puffins whizzing past with their backs to the gale.

A Kingfisher had flashed across the sea wall as we walked down but it was the seabirds which were our main quarry. Cory’s Shearwaters were the most common with a couple of Balearic Shearwaters for comparison.

The weather was so rough that we were shaking as much as the telescopes and we were forced to give up our attempts.

After a coffee in our favourite taverna were returned to the hotel where, in warm sun on the sheltered terrace we sat in comfortable chairs and watched the trickle of birds coming in off the sea.

Our final count was 18 Montagu’s Harriers, 10 Marsh, 48 Black Kites and a few Kestrels. Bee-eaters also went over and in the course of the day we counted more than 100.

Stirring ourselves we headed to La Janda marshes, an area of rice fields created by General Franco by draining one of Europe’s top marshes. The wildlife there is still abundant but greatly changed from Franco’s time.

As we drove onto the area raptors came past – a few Griffons and two or three harriers. Small birds – pipits, linnets, goldfinches and Spotless Starlings scattered in their hundreds. Indeed it was a tightly packed bunch of the latter which drew Ray’s attention to a female Peregrine which made several stoops and the whirling birds before finally grabbing one and heading off somewhere quiet to eat its meal.

We continued to Barbate where a few minutes spent at the none-too-salubrious estuary produced great views of four Caspian Terns, a Whimbrel, lots of Dunlin, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers, Flamingos and Sandwich Terns.

We ended the afternoon at the river in Zahara where after a lot of searching Blue Rock Thrush was the last new bird added to our extensive list.

Saturday 2nd April

Zahara to Seville and home

After a 6am start we had a break with the dawn just short of Seville for coffee, comfort and fuel. Terry found the only wildlife of the trip – Glow-worms – but sadly they had switched off by the time the group went to see them.

We said our farewells at the airport and went our separate ways on three different flights.



GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

1 Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Seen on four days, max count of 16 on the 28th.

2 Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus

Recorded on three days, with a max count of 20 on the 29th

3 Black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Observed on only two days with a max count of 20 on the 29th.

SHEARWATERS & PETRELS Procellariiformes Procellariidae

4 Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea

At least 11 off Tarifa harbour on the 1st.

5 Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus

Two seen off Tarifa harbour on the 1st.

GANNETS Pelecaniformes Sulidae

6 Northern gannet Morus bassanus

Recorded on two days with max count of 30 on the 30th.

CORMORANTS Pelecaniformes Phalacrocoracidae

7 Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Observed most days with 20 on the 31st.

HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae

8 Grey heron Ardea cinerea

Seen most days with max count of 40 on the 27th.

9 Purple heron Ardea purpurea

Max of 5 on the 27th with fewer on three other days.

10 Little egret Egretta garzetta

Ten on two days with fewer on four other dates.

11 Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides

One in Doñana National Park on the 27th.

12 Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis

Common, max count of 110 on 29th.

13 Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Twelve on the 27th, two on the 28th.

STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

14 White stork Ciconia ciconia

Common with a max of 70 on the 1st.

IBIS & SPOONBILLS Ciconiiformes Threskiornithidae

15 Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus

Seen on four days, max count of 25 on the 28th.

16 Eurasian spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Recorded most days with max of 30 on the 27th.

FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopterid

17 Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

Seen daily, max count 2,000 on the 26th.

SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae

18 Greylag goose Anser anser

Observed on three days with max of 40 on the 26th.

19 Common shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Two on the salinas near Odiel on the 28th.

20 Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope

Four on the 26th & two on the 27th.

21 Gadwall Anas strepera

Recorded on four days with max of 30 on the 27th.

22 Common teal Anas crecca

Max of 30 on the 27th with birds on three other dates.

23 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Seen on six days with max of 100 on the 1st.

24 Northern pintail Anas acuta

Four on the 27th & two on the 28th.

25 Northern shoveler Anas clypeata

Common on four days with max of 500 on 27th.

26 Red-crested pochard Netta rufina

Four on the salinas near Odiel on the 28th.

27 Common pochard Aythya ferina

Recorded on four days with max 40 on the 27th.

28 Black scoter Melanitta nigra

At least 100 passing Tarifa on the 30th and 10 on the 1st.

HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae

29 Black-shouldered kite Elanus caeruleus

One displaying briefly near El Rocio on the 29th.

30 Red kite Milvus milvus

Seen on only three days with max 12 on the 27th.

31 Black kite Milvus migrans

Common, max 80 on passage on the 1st.

32 Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus

One over La Janda marsh on the 1st.

33 Eurasian griffon Gyps fulvus

Common, max 30 on the 30th.

34 Short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus

A few on four days with max 15 on the 30th.

35 Western marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus

Seen every day with max of 10 on two days.

36 Northern (Hen) harrier Circus cyaneus

One female recorded on the 27th.

37 Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus

These spectacular birds were observed most days with max 23 on the 1st.

38 Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

Recorded on only one day, three on the 31st.

39 Eurasian buzzard Buteo buteo

Seen on three days with max six on the 28th.

40 Booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

Common daily, max 20 on three dates.

FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae

41 Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni

Observed on three days in and around Tarifa, max 20.

42 Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Recorded daily, max count six on the 26th.

43 Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo

One migrant north of Zahara on the 1st.

44 Peregrine Falco peregrinus

Singles seen on three dates.

PHEASANTS & PARTRIDGES Galliformes Phasianidae

45 Red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa

Common, recorded most days.

46 Ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Ten on the 1st on the La Janda marsh.

RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae

47 Purple gallinule (swamphen) Porphyrio porphyrio

A few on two dates but 150 in the Coto de Doñana on the 27th.

48 Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Observed most days, max 20 on the 27th.

49 Red-knobbed coot Fulica cristata

One with a white neck-collar near Odiel on the 28th was part of a reintroduction programme.

50 Eurasian coot Fulica atra

Common, max count 2000 on the 27th.

OYSTERCATCHERS Charadriiformes Haematopodidae

51 Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Small numbers on two dates.

AVOCETS & STILTS Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae

52 Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus

Common, max 500 on the 27th.

53 Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Seen most days, max count 500 on the 27th.

PRATINCOLES Charadriiformes Glareolidae

54 Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola

A few on two dates with max 50 on the 26th.

LAPWINGS & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae

55 Grey plover Pluvialis squatarola

Max 10 on the 1st with six on two other days.

56 Greater ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula

Seen on three days, max 30 on the 1st.

57 Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius

Observed on three days, max six on the 27th.

58 Kentish (Snowy) plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Recorded on three days with a max of 40 on the 1st.

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

59 Common snipe Gallinago gallinago

Four on the 26th & two on the 28th.

60 Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa

Observed on four days, max 600 on the 27th.

61 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

One at Barbate estuary on the 1st.

62 Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata

Recorded on two days with max six on the 28th.

63 Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus

Singles on the 27th and 28th.

64 Common redshank Tringa totanus

Common, max count of 100 on the 27th.

65 Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

Five on the 26th and a single on the 28th.

66 Common greenshank Tringa nebularia

Three on the 27th & 20 on the 28th.

67 Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Four on the 27th & a single on the 1st.

68 Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola

Single on the 27th in Doñana National Park.

69 Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Seen on four days with max three on the 28th.

70 Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres

Two observed on the 28th and the 30th.

71 Sanderling Calidris alba

Recorded on four days with max 100 on the 30th.

72 Little stint Calidris minuta

Four at Playa de los Lances on the 30th.

73 Dunlin Calidris alpina

Small numbers most days, max 40 on the 1st.

74 Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Observed on three days with max of 30 on the 26th.

SKUAS Charadriiformes Stercorariidae

75 Great skua Catharacta skua

Three passing offshore at Zahara on the 30th.

76 Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus

One pale phase bird chasing a tern on the 29th.

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae

77 Audouin's gull Larus audouinii

Forty on the 30th and 38 on the 1st.

78 Yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis

Seen daily with a max 15 on the 29th.

79 Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus

Recorded daily in small numbers.

80 Black-headed gull Larus ridibundus

Observed on four days, max 20 on the 28th.

81 Mediterranean gull Larus melanocephalus

Adult in non-breeding plumage at Playa de los Lances on 30th.

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae

82 Caspian tern Sterna caspia

Four birds at Barbate on the 28th and 1st.

83 Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis

One on 28th and 50 on the 30th and 1st.

84 Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus

Seen on four days, max 20 on 27th and 29th.

AUKS & PUFFINS Charadriiformes Alcidae

85 Razorbill Alca torda

One flying south on the 30th at Cabo de Trafalgar.

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae

86 Rock dove (feral pigeon) Columba livia

Common daily.

87 Common wood-pigeon Columba palumbus

Common with a max of 25 on the 1st.

88 Eurasian collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto

Common and widespread.

CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae

89 Great spotted cuckoo Clamator glandarius

One at El Acebuche on the 29th.

90 Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Singles on the 27th and the 1st.

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae

91 Common swift Apus apus

Common and recorded on most days.

92 Pallid swift Apus pallidus

Observed in smaller numbers most days.

KINGFISHERS Coraciiformes Alcedinidae

93 Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis

One flying over Tarifa harbour on the 1st.

BEE-EATERS Coraciiformes Meropidae

94 European bee-eater Merops apiaster

Seen daily, max 100 on passage on the 1st.

HOOPOES Coraciiformes Upupidae

95 Eurasian hoopoe Upupa epops

Recorded on four days with a max of five on the 26th.

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae

96 Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Singles observed on three dates.

97 Green woodpecker Picus viridis

One heard on the 31st.

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae

98 Calandra lark Melanocorypha calandra

Seen on four days with max 50 0n the 1st.

99 Greater short-toed lark Calandrella brachydactyla

Twelve on the 27th & 1 on 30th.

100 Lesser short-toed lark Calandrella rufescens

Six in Donana National Park on 27th.

101 Crested lark Galerida cristata

Common and recorded daily.

102 Thekla lark Galerida theklae

Three on the 31st and a single on the 1st.

103 Sky lark Alauda arvensis

Observed in small numbers on three days.

SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae

104 Sand martin Riparia riparia

Max 30 counted over two dates.

105 Barn swallow Hirundo rustica

Common and recorded daily.

106 Red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica

Three on the 26th, one on the 27th and two on the 1st.

107 House martin Delichon urbica

Common and recorded daily. Vast colonies in El Rocio.

WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae

108 White wagtail Motacilla alba

Observed on three days with max 5 on the 1st.

109 Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava

Seen most days with max 20 on the 27th.

110 Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis

A few most days with max 40 on the 1st.

KINGLETS Passeriformes Regulidae

111 Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus

At least six on the 31st at Huerta Grande.

WRENS Passeriformes Troglodytidae

112 Winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Four on the 28th, plus singles on the 30th and 31st.

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae

113 Blue rock-thrush Monticola solitarius

One at Zahara on the 1st (after many visits).

114 Ring ouzel Turdus torquatus

Good views of a male at Zahara on the 31st.

115 Eurasian blackbird Turdus merula

Common, with max count of 10 on the 1st.

CISTICOLAS Passeriformes Cisticolidae

116 Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis

Seen and heard on five days with a max of two seen on the 1st.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae

117 Cetti's warbler Cettia cetti

There were more heard than seen over six dates.

118 Savi's warbler Locustella luscinioides

Good views of four at El Acebuche on the 29th.

119 Moustached warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon

One at El Rocio on the 28th was the only the third ever recorded in Doñana.

120 Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

One on the 26th, plus two on the 27th and 28th.

121 Eurasian reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Singles heard on three dates.

122 Great reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

One seen on the 27th and another heard, 29th.

123 Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Two heard and seen on the 28th.

124 Common chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Up to six seen on the 27th and 28th.

125 Iberian chiffchaff Phylloscopus brehmii

One in Huerta Grande on the 31st.

126 Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Six on the 28th, three on the 29th and eight on the 31st.

127 Garden warbler Sylvia borin

One at Huerta Grande on the 31st.

128 Greater whitethroat Sylvia communis

Two at Laguna de Medina on the 29th.

129 Subalpine warbler Sylvia cantillans

Single birds recorded on three dates.

130 Sardinian warbler Sylvia melanocephala

Seen and heard most days, max six on two dates.

131 Dartford warbler Sylvia undata

Three on the 28th at La Rocina.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae

132 European robin Erithacus rubecula

Single on the 28th and three on the 31st.

133 Common nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

Heard and / or seen on five days.

Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus

One ‘leaders only’ bird in Palacio del Acebrón on the 28th.

134 European stonechat Saxicola torquata

Common, max count of 25 on the 31st.

135 Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Three on the 30th and 31st.

136 Black-eared wheatear Oenanthe hispanica.

One at Baelio Claudia on the 31st.

TITMICE Passeriformes Paridae

137 Crested tit Lophophanes cristatus

Two on the 28th and three on the 31st.

138 Great tit Parus major

Recorded on four dates with max five on the 29th.

139 Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus

Six on the 28th and three on the 31st.

NUTHATCHES Passeriformes Sittidae

140 Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea

One heard at Palacio del Acebrón on the 28th.

CREEPERS Passeriformes Certhiidae

141 Short-toed treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla

Seen and / or heard on three dates.

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae

142 Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio

One male on the 27th in Doñana National Park was a great find due to its rarity.

143 Southern grey shrike Lanius meridionalis

Single bird near El Rocio on the 29th.

144 Woodchat shrike Lanius senator

Seen most days with a max 10 on the 29th.

JAYS & CROWS Passeriformes Corvidae

145 Azure-winged magpie Cyanopica cyana

Recorded on three days, extraordinary count of 150 on the 27th.

146 Common magpie Pica pica

Observed on three dates, max count 10 on the 29th.

147 Eurasian jackdaw Corvus monedula

Seen on three days, max count 30 on the 1st.

148 Common raven Corvus corax

Heard and/or seen on four days, max count 20.

STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae

149 Spotless starling Sturnus unicolor

Observed daily, sometimes in large flocks, one of which formed when they were attacked by a Peregrine at La Janda marsh.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae

150 House sparrow Passer domesticus

Recorded daily, common.

151 Eurasian tree sparrow Passer montanus

Arroyo de Palmosa, 15 on the 27th.

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae

152 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Seen on three dates, max six on the 31st.

153 European greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Common most days, max 30 on the 27th.

154 Eurasian siskin Carduelis spinus

Twelve at Huerta Grande on the 31st.

155 European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Everywhere, max count 200 on the 27th.

156 Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina

Seen most days, max count 50 on the 27th.

157 European serin Serinus serinus

Daily with a max count of 50 on the 27th.

158 Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes

One on the 28th and six on the 31st.

TRUE BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae

159 Corn bunting Emberiza calandra

Recorded most days with max six on the 28th.


RABBITS & HARES Lagomorpha Leporidae

1 European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

A few seen daily.

2 European Hare Lepus europaeus.

Road kill

MONGOOSES Carnivora Herpestidae

3 Egyptian Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon

One in the road at El Acebuche on the 28th.

MOLES Lipotyphla Talpidae

3 Iberian Blind Mole Talpa caeca

Mole hills seen commonly.

HORSESHOE BATS Chiroptera Rhinolophidae

4 Greater-horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum.

Several at the lagoon in El Rocio.

VESPER BATS Chiroptera Vespertilionidae

5 Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus

Lots at the lagoon in El Rocio.

6 Khul’s Pipistrelle Pipistrellus khuli

Several at the lagoon in El Rocio.

DOGS & FOXES Carnivora Canidae

7 Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Road kill.

PIGS Artiodactyla Suidae

8 Wild Boar Sus scrofa.

Rootings seen in several sites.

DEER Artiodactyla Cervidae

9 Red Deer Cervus elaphus

Herd at the lagoon in El Rociuo.

10 Fallow Deer Dama dama

Herd at the lagoon in El Rociuo.


Common Toad Bufo bufo.

Iberian Water Frog Rana perezi.


Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauretanica.

Large Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus.

Iberian Wall Lizard Podarcis hispanica.

Ocellated Lizard Lacerta lepida.

Red-eared Slider Pseudemys scripta.

Viperine Snake Natrix maura.(Dead)


Swallowtail Papilio machaon.

Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina.

Large White Pieris brassicae.

Small White Arlogeia rapae.

Green-striped White Euchloe belemia.

Western Dappled White Euchloe simplonia.

Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines.

Clouded Yellow Colias crocea.

Cleopatra Gonepteryx Cleopatra.

Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus.

Brown Argus Aricia agestis.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus.

Monarch Danaus plexippus.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui.

Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathseba.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria.

Wall Brown Lasiommata megera.

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi.


Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia.

Violet Carpenter Bee Xvlocopa violacea.

Iberian Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura graeslii.

Dung Beetle Scarabaeus semipunctatus.



Shield Bug sp

© The Travelling Naturalist 2005