Travelling to and at Donana.
Heather, Cath and myself set off from Loja in Granada Province at 06:00 and headed towards Sevilla on the A92. In the area around Osuna we diverted on to some side roads looking for birds in the arable fields. The first and probably the most common species of the morning was Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) followed by Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) and a nice group of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) near Sevilla.
We then moved on in to the Donana area to the marshes of El Rocio along side the town of the same name. Both Whiskered (Fumarel Cariblanco / Chlidonias hybridus) and Black Terns (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger) skimmed the water, feeding on the insects along with Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and the much larger Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) which appeared to be surprisingly successful at catching dragonflies. Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucrodia), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) were all seen wading out in the shallow waters. Also there were Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos).
Our next stop was at the La Rocina information centre, we walked out on the board walk to the eastern most hide and here Cath (a biologist from my local area back in the UK) had a species she had always wanted to see a Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común /Porphyrio porphyrio), which was sitting quite motionless in some tussock grass doing absolutely nothing. Again Spoonbill, White Stork and Little Egret were seen along with Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Savi's (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great Reed (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) and Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and a Group of 7/8 Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) landed in some dead Dock stalks for a few seconds.
Just as we were leaving the last hide Heather pointed out a very large but distant raptor which turned out to be our only view of a Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) as it drifted east.
We then moved on to El Acebuche the visitors centre a little further towards the coast. We first admired the White Storks nest on the building with it's two chicks, more nests were seen in the pine trees on the far side of the pools. Next we visited some of the hides seeing much the same species as we had already seen but adding Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Golden Oriole, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Woodchat shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Collared Pratincole.
On the road out we also picked up a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), and Long-tailed Tits (Mito /Aegithalos caudatus).
Photographs from the top: Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).