6th of January: Coto Donana
Friday the 6th of January my dad and I headed out early in the morning to the Coto Donana. From Sevilla we were only 30 km away from some good birding places in the park. As we only had one day we had to make some choices: which place in the park should we visit. After we'd done some research we came to the conclusion we should go to the Dehesa de Abajo, which ironically, is situated just outside the park. We chose this place as we would have the highest chance of seeing Marbled Duck and Knobbed Coot. It turned out to be a great decision, as we saw plenty of cool things!
The first bird we saw was a Hoopoe in La Puebla del Rio. A bit further to the south, near Las Colinas we saw 4 Cranes foraging in a ricefield. In some willows near small pools of water we found 30 Black-crowned Night Herons, small numbers of Night Herons winter in the Donana. Adjacent to the restaurant (forgot the name) on the roundabout near Las Colinas we saw a Squacco Heron in the ricefield. Soon, we come across the Dehesa. We park the car at the parking lot and start walking towards the two hides that overlook the Laguna. What a magnificent view in the early morning with thousands of Shovelers!
The laguna, overloaded with birds!
It didn't took long before I found one of our targets: 4 Marbled Ducks were swimming among the thousands of Ducks, close to the hide. A later count resulted in an really impressive number of 26!!! Marbled Ducks.
The (probably) rarest duck of Europe!
Further observed species: hundreds of Pintails, 7 Red-crested Pochards, some Teals and Wigones, 300 Black-winged Stilts, 4 Ruddy Shelducks, 2 couples of Marsh Harriers:
A very bright male!
Among the hundreds of Coots we were unable to find our other target bird, Knobbed Coot. We walked a bit more into the Dehesa, seeing many tens of Blackcaps, feeding on olives. We saw our first swallows too! A few Barn Swallows and about an equal number of Sand Martins were foraging above the water surface. Both Green and Common Sandpipers were found along the edge of the water. In between a group of 100 Lapwing, 200 Pied Avocets, we found 4 Ruffs, 9 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Little Ringed-plovers. The presence of Greater Flamingos wasn't a surprise as well as 10 Greylags. Above the Dehesa we saw flying Night Herons as well as 3 Booted Eagles, of which one was chased repeatedly by some 100 Jackdaws. A group of 10 Woodlark was feeding on the path.
On the other side of the road, in the flooded ricefields, we saw 16 Purple Swamphens, foraging out in the open. A behaviour we weren't used to see with this species a few years ago. But since the numbers have exploded of these Swamphens, they are now often easy to see. Two Black Storks, flying over, was a warm welcome. Two Squacco Herons and two Spoonbills were foraging, together with plenty of Little Egrets, in the ricefield. A Penduline Tit was calling in the reeds.
After a warm meal at the restaurant Venta del Cruce (I remember the name now :)) we drove into the ricefields, to see if we could find anything worth mentioning. And sure we did......!
Three Black Storks were the first to be found, not much later we found other 'black' birds!
As we drove further we suddenly saw a loooooot of Glossy Ibises foraging in the ricefields next to the road. Approximately 3000!!! Glossy Ibises were foraging in these ricefields alone already. What a sight, what a sight..
To give an impression..
And some being chased off by a mad (?) farmer, claxoning with his car.
We had luck with a very cooperative Squacco Heron too, providing excellent photo oppertunities:
A selection of three out of 100 photos, haha.
A typical scenery, in the Spanish ricefields.
And before we knew it, the day was over. We drove back through the famous Alcaznar Pinewoods (also a good site for Lynxes), not seeing a lot noteworthy, and then headed off to Sevilla, where our last night in Spain had started. We had a great tapas meal at a restaurant called BoBo in Sevilla, it was a good ending of a very succesfull two weeks!
The next morning we had to go to the airport quite early. Around 10.00, the airplane took us from 20 degrees Celsius and sun, to rain, cold temperatures, and dreary weather again...