Gracias al trabajo de nuestro colaborador en el Reino Unido, Len Clark, este año tendremos tres grupos de pajareros procedentes de Bristol. La primera de estas tres entregas tuvo lugar la semana pasada en tierras de Andalucía y Extremadura. Visitamos el Parque Nacional de Doñana, las marismas del Odiel y lagunas costeras como la Primera de Palos, junto a la ciudad de Huelva. Esto durante los tres primeros días. Para la segunda parte de la semana nos esperaban las dehesas de Trujillo, Monfragüe y los llanos cacereños...
Con un tiempo inmejorable durante toda la semana, rozando en ocasiones temperaturas veraniegas, pudimos ver la mayoría de especialidades de cada región aunque nos falló alguna especie importante como focha moruna y búho real. Me temo que este año no va a ser bueno para observar ninguna de estas dos especies en los sitios habituales que conocemos. En cualquier caso los humedales de Doñana lucían sus mejores galas tras un otoño y comienzo de primavera muy lluvioso con una colonia nueva junto al Caño de Guadiamar, que desde que voy por Doñana nunca había visto. La marisma bullía de vida y color, pocas veces he visto los campos tan llenos de agua y con tanto verde y flores por todas partes.
En Extremadura las jaras ya comenzaban a abrirse intuyendo un manto blanco que a buen seguro tapizará las laderas de sus sierras. La hierba, sin embargo, muy alta para estas fechas nos impidió ver con comodidad a los sisones, aunque tengo la impresión que esta especie está en claro declive. Ahora hay que buscarlos cuando hace unos años simplemente aparecían. Ojalá me equivoque.
Muchos fueron los momentos mágicos de esta semana repleta de aves (165 especies diferentes registradas en los apenas siete días de expedición), pero creo que destacaría por encima de todos el momento que vivimos en el mirador de La Portilla en Monfragüe, mientras un adulto de águila imperial marcaba con celo su territorio allí arriba, abajo en las aguas embalsadas del Tiétar, una familia de nutrias daba buena cuenta de los peces capturados por uno de los adultos, seguramente la madre, que con mimo cuidaba de sus dos retoños. Cigüeñas negras, águilas culebreras y alimoches hacían el resto... y todo al unísono.
Las tres especies de buitres, cinco especies de águilas, todas las ardeidas ibéricas a excepción del avetoro, águila pescadora en su nido del Odiel, una gran variedad de limícolas en el sur, observaciones inmejorables de aves tan coloridas como abejarucos, carracas, alcaudones comunes... avutardas y sisones en vuelo con las dos especies de gangas, la ortega y la ibérica, posadas en las pocas manchas de hierba rala de los Llanos... en definitiva, una gran selección de nuestra avifauna meridional en tan sólo una semana. Os dejo un pequeño reportaje fotográfico de este viaje no sin dar las gracias antes a Bridget, Julie, Shirley, Ken, Richard, Rob y Len por haber confiado en Spainbirds.
La aldea de El Rocío / The hamlet of El Rocio
Cigüeñas blancas en Villamanrique / White Storks at Villamanrique
Avetorillo / Little Bittern
Garca imperial en el Caño del Guadiamar / Purple Heron at the Caño del Guadiamar
Lavandera boyera ssp. iberiae / Yellow Wagtail ssp. iberiae
Garcilla cangrejera / Squacco Heron
Terreras marismeñas / Lesser Short-toed Larks
Culebrera europea / Short-toed Eagle
Críalo / Great Spotted Cuckoo
Gorrión molinero / Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Bando mixto con gaviotas de Audouin y sombría, charrán patinegro y correlimos común / Mixed flock with Audouin's and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sandwich Tern and Dunlin
Águila imperial ibérica / Spanish Imperial Eagle
Curruca cabecinegra / Sardinian Warbler
Una de las tres nutrias de Monfragüe / One of the three otters seen in Monfragüe
Águila perdicera / Bonelli's Eagle
Buitre leonado desde el Castillo de Monfragüe / Griffon Vulture at the castle of Monfragüe
Carraca / European Roller
Murciélago hortelano / Serotine Bat
El grupo en Talaván / The group at theTalavan reservoir
Elanio común cerca de Almaraz / Black-shouldered Kite near Almaraz
Arriving at Málaga airport mid morning on Saturday, the six of us, together with our guide Santiago Villa of Spainbirds, set off on a double location tour, first to Doñana and then to some of the key areas in Extremadura.
During terrible Spanish (and
weather we had: UK
- Great weather! - 7 days of glorious sunshine!
- Great birds - 160 species! including 19 different Raptors, 4 different Herons, 6 different Terns, 7 different Larks, both types of Sandgrouse and Bustard !
- And some superb highlights!
Where did we go?
We covered a variety habitats in the Doñana, from lakes, estuaries and reed beds to thick woodland and coastal beaches. In the Extremadura, the main habitats covered were the river gorges with their cliffs and wooded hillsides, the ‘dehesas’ which are the extensive fields with their scattered Holm Oaks, and the vast Cáceres plains.
What did we see?
At least 160 bird species, which does not include a few that only some of us saw, such as Iberian Grey Shrike, or the solitary Pied Flycatcher that only one of us saw (it has been that sort of Spring - no sign of any Spotted Flycatchers), and we didn’t claim for the possible Bonelli’s Warbler or the possibly glimpsed Olivaceous Warbler.
But it did include some splendid birds. For example:
Not just one Great Spotted Cuckoo but we watched three of them on one dusty track in the Doñana and then saw another in the Extremadura a few days later.
There were Black Kites everywhere, over fields, hillsides, lakes and even over towns and villages.
Whiskered Terns seemed to be over almost every lake we visited, whilst Gull-billed, Black, Common,
and Little Terns were all added to our list.
Apart from some special locations, there seemed to be an almost constant background birdsong, particularly of Corn Buntings, but also Crested and Calandra Larks and Zitting Cisticolas (Fan-tailed Warblers). Bee-eaters frequently added their calls giving us not only sound but also some great colours too.
And although the Spring migration was somewhat disrupted by the earlier poor weather in
, we had Black-necked Grebes
in full summer plumage plus some good views of Melodious Warbler and numerous Rollers. Spain
There were also great views of Purple Herons, some of which came close to us.
organized that we could take our
picnic lunch inside the Doñana Reserve offices where their splendid full length
windows gave us further great views of Glossy Ibis along with nesting Cattle Egrets, Night
Herons and some Squacco Herons. Santiago
The Doñana has quite a range of different habitats within its area and we enjoyed a good selection of these - plus the fine weather. Around the marshes, lakes and reed beds, we had good views of Squacco Herons several Great White Egrets, and Little Bittern (with a quick view of a Nightingale at the same spot) while overhead Booted and Short-toed Eagles put in occasional appearances.
Flocks of Spoonbills were on several of the lakesa and there were a number of large flocks of Greater Flamingo, which added conspicuous colour to the scenery, particularly in flight. In the southern part of the Doñana, a superb peaceful woodland location gave us sightings and the song of both Common and Iberian Chiffchaff, plus Short-toed Treecreeper, whilst a reed bed in a nearby lake yielded a singing Savi’s Warbler as we watched several Purple Swamphens as they moved somewhat ponderously across shallow water.
Azure-winged Magpies flitted around woodland picnic locations and Woodchat Shrikes were almost everywhere and a constant delight.
Coastal locations in north-west Doñana gave us estuary mud, sandy or stony bays and weedy shore lines - and lots more birds including Audouin’s Gull seen here with Sandwich Terns, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Dunlin. We had seen a flight of a dozen Collared Pratincoles near our hotel on our first arrival in the Doñana and now we had further extended views of the this elegant bird.
Waders included Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, plus a Curlew Sandpiper in summer plumage. Sanderlings played along the edges of incoming waves whilst Kentish Plovers moved more sedately, as one would expect of a Plover.
White Storks were a regular feature both in Doñana and Extremadura and their nest sites were seen on buildings, in trees and on electricity pylons. Black Storks were not seen until we reached the Extremadura and here we were treated to some superb views of the bird in flight and on its nest in a river gorge in
, which was close to
where we stayed and also not far from the vast plains region between the towns
of Monfragüe Natural
At one spectacular viewpoint in Monfragüe Natural Park, in addition to the Black Stork, we watched Griffon Vultures circling and landing at their cliff face nest sites and then, from behind the cliffs, there appeared from time to time Black and Egyptian Vultures, Peregrine Falcon and some really superb views of Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Red-rumped Swallows, Rock Buntings, Blue Rock Thrush and Sub-Alpine Warblers added some ornithological balance to these raptors - and then we were treated to a display by three European Otters fishing and having fun on the water’s edge below us, with a young one playing with a fish.
Of the raptors, we saw some big ones like Griffon Vultures... and some smaller ones like Black-winged Kites. We had Golden Eagles, including a distant view of one on its nest (a variation of the Osprey which we saw landing on its distant nest a couple of days earlier in the Doñana). There were lots of Lesser Kestrels at several locations, including at a lunch stop in the town of
plus we had quite exciting views of a pair
of Bonelli’s Eagles as they hunted along hillsides close to us. Trujillo
On an early morning visit to the Cáceres Plains, a male Montagu’s Harrier drifted by on elegant wings, after which we were treated first to a flypast of 20+ Great Bustards, and then good telescope views of the male Great Bustard giving its spectacular display - with, it must be said, little apparent effect on a female standing nearby! Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse were added to our list.
As the sun came up from behind the distant mountains, the temperature was just perfect and the chorus of Corn Buntings, Crested and Calandra Larks, and occasional Bee-eaters made this particular location something to remember. It was not all birds though, and not everyone was scanning the tree tops and the sky!
Richard Stansfield, who joined us from
on this tour, was
our flower expert and identified lots of wonderful flowers including a number
of orchids - his photo album from the tour with some 120+ flowers is something
to marvel at. Also there were Sharp-ribbed Salamanders,
Natterjack toad, Bosca’s newt, Marsh frog, European Pond terrapin, European
Otters as mentioned earlier.a Turkish
Gecko even a close view of a dozing Serontine
Some key memories
The whole tour left us with some great memories, including lots of nesting birds such as both Black and White Storks, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Griffon Vultures, Rollers at their nest boxes on roadside electricity poles… then there were the Night and Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egrets whilst we had our picnic lunch and then right towards the end of the tour we had a Penduline Tit in the process of completing the entrance tunnel to its unusual nest built around the end of a thin hanging branch.
One particular memory was of a very pleasant tapas style lunch in the main square of the Trujillo with its 13th Century church, old Arab fortress – and nesting White Storks on the tops of surrounding buildings, and both Pallid Swifts and Lesser Kestrels swooping above us and diving into their nesting holes in the various buildings.
Another memory was of the hunting Bonelli’s Eagles as one of them dived low over a hillside close to us, flushed a Red-legged Partridge into frantic flight up the small valley, closely pursued by both Eagles.
And what about those Black-winged Kites which flew high into the sky, possibly in some form of display flight and then one of them kindly came and landed close to us allowing plenty of time for photos, whilst Black Vultures drifted overhead and Corn Bunting and Crested Larks sang all around us.
Some memorable locations, not least for their sheer contrasting habitats included:
- the wonderful peaceful woodland in the Doñana with its Short-toed Treecreepers and both Iberian and Common Chiffchaffs all in song
- and then the scene in the Cáceres Plains as the sun rose from behind the distant snow covered mountains whilst Crested and Calandra Larks sang and Great Bustards displayed.
- and the pleasant coffee stop close to fields of wildflowers, scattered trees, and an Orphean giving its distinctive song.
A most enjoyable tour in the best possible weather.
Text by Len Clark