Del Atlántico a los Pirineos (un viaje organizado para VENT), 25 Abril - 11 Mayo / Parte I
From the Atlantic Ocean to the high Pyrenees (a tour for VENT), 25 April - 11 May / Part I

Our explorations of the Iberian Peninsula began in the southwest part of Spain at Doñana National Park. Here the marshes, ponds, and fields teemed with waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders. The wide-open spaces of the Caceres Plains of Extremadura gave us bustards, sandgrouse, and larks. The mountains of Gredos, Picos de Europa, and the Pyrenees yielded amazing vistas and birds of the alpine and forest zones. We ate and drank our way across Spain in style, covering more than 3,000 kilometers, a few coffee breaks, and who knows how many calories. We also touched on a thousand years of Spanish history, visiting villages, churches, and monasteries that have stood for centuries, and we even traipsed across a Roman road.

Traveling from Sevilla to Doñana National Park we observed our first Mediterranean landscapes, sandy red hills with lines of ancient olive groves and vineyards stretching to the horizon. Whitewashed villages and livestock dotted the countryside. The charming El Rocio, with its sandy streets and horse carriages, harkens a different era. The town is bordered by Madre de las Marismas, a lagoon that was covered with birds: Whiskered Terns, Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, pochards of two kinds, stilts, avocets, and shorebirds. This was our first proper birding during our two-week traverse of this amazing country. Over the next couple of days we saw Red-knobbed Coots, Marbled Teal, displaying White-headed Ducks, Flamingos, Slender-billed and Audouin’s gulls, Little and Whiskered terns, Squacco and Purple herons, Little Bittern, and a Rufous Bush Chat, a decidedly Mediterranean passerine. We also noted a variety of raptors: Booted and Short-toed eagles, Black Kites, Eurasian and Lesser kestrels, and Common Buzzard. The Acebron Palace added a number of woodland birds with Hawfinch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, and European Bee-eaters.

Text by Brian Gibbons (Victor Emanuel Nature Tours)
Photos: Santi Villa (Spainbirds Nature Tours)

Garza imperial / Purple Heron

Culebrera europea / Short-toed Eagle

Martinete común / Black-crowned Night Heron

Calamón / Purple Swamp Hen

Malvasía cabeciblanca / White-headed Duck

Focha moruna / Red-knobbed Coot

Avetorillo / Little Bittern

Correlimos menudo / Little Stint

Correlimos común / Dunlin

Chorlitejo patinegro / Kentish Plover

Correlimos zarapitín / Culew Sandpiper

Gaviota picofina / Slender-billed Gull

Cerceta pardilla / Marbled Duck

Pico menor / Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Picogordo / Hawfinch

Alzacola / Rufous Bush Chat

Alzacola / Rufous Bush Chat

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