Sunday 29 April 2018

The Via Verde, Dehesa de Abajo, Choza de Huerta Tejada and Centro de interpretación de José Antonio Valverde, Sevilla Province.

Our first days birding in the Doñana.
Day Two: Doñana and Extremadura tour.

Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum).
I was up early and had a short stroll at the back of my room and started the day list off with a calling Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a pair of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica).
Gum Cistus (Cistus ladanifer) and Lobonyx aeneus Beetles.
After a good breakfast at 07:30 we had a drive around to the start of the Via Verde, a track that runs for several Km through different habitats along its route. We started in the woodlands at the beginning of the drive but in general it was quiet, even so we did find Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), a calling but unseen Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and a singing Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) which showed up in the top of a nearby pine tree.
Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum).
We walked one of the tracks down to a clearing in the wood adding Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), the first of several singing Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and more Iberian  Magpies.
Strange cage set up.
Wild Flowers were also seen along the rides and included Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Large Cuckoo Pint (Arum italicum), Borage (Borago officinalis), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspliensis), Small Pink Cistus (Cistus crispus),  Gum Cistus (Cistus ladanifer)along with Lobonyx aeneus beetles, Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum), Omphalodes commutata, Retama (Retama sphaerocarpa) and Spotted Rockrose (Tuberaria guttata).
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
As we walked back to the car we found a strange set up in a tree made up of two cages, the lower one was empty but the top one contained a Feral Type Pigeon, really not sure what it's purpose was but making further investigations.
We moved further along the track and parked by a body of water which had a very restricted gap to view it which meant on the water we only picked up a couple of male Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) but in the surrounding area we were very pleased to get some good views of a Western Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcero Pálido Occidental / Hippolais opaca) as it moved through the marginal Tamarisk trees. In the air we saw lots of action provided by White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Barn Swallow and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
On the oposite side of the road in the fields we found a soaring Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), a couple of hoovering / hunting Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) sitting in a dead tree, even more singing Nightingales and another calling Common Cuckoo.
Crown Daisys (Chrysanthemum carinatum).
Again we moved on and parked just short of a bridge over the Rio Guadiamar and almost straight away we had a fine Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) which was soon followed by a pair of Western Olivaceous Warblers which chased each other into the thicker trees but showed well later in a dead tree below the bridge, Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Nightingales, Red-rumped Swallows and further along the track in a much more open area several Zitting Cisticola's, Hoopoe, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), at least 5 more Woodchat Shrikes, Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), a dark phase Booted Eagle and more Black Kites
Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum).
It was starting to warm up by this time and a few butterflies including Bath (Pontia daplidice) and Small Whites (Pieris rapae) and Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea).
Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea).
As we drove on we stopped by a splendid bank of wild flowers including many of the earlier plants along with Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea), Boar Thistle (Galactites tomentosa), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata) and White Mignonette (Reseda Alba).
Small Pink Cistus (Cistus crispus).
Just before we left the Via Verde we made one last stop and we were quite surprised to find a small flock of 5 Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) passing over, we also saw Common Buzzard, Black Kite, White Stork, Cetti's Warbler and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
Once off the track we turned towards Dehesa de Abajo but stopped just before the concrete causeway and parked because as we came around the corner off the main road I heard a calling male Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus). 
Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
We spent a while at the spot and soon had views of the male bird as it flew from a nearby Ash tree to the reeds nearby where it collected nest building material and returning. Eventually after watching the bird returning we spotted the nest and spent quite a while watching the bird working hard. In the same area we also had good views of some White Storks and several Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus). 
Flower meadows.
Just down the road at the far side of the causeway we stopped again and watched a flock of Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus) feeding over the roadside marsh along with Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Eurasian Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and a roosting immature Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
Again we moved on just up the road to the lake at Dehesa de Abajo and parked on the roadside and scanned the water finding good numbers of Red-crested and Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Black-necked (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), more Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), 2x Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), a single roosting adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and finally we eventually located a Red-knobbed Coot (Focha cornuda / Fulca cristata) on the far shore.
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).

In the air there were good numbers of Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Black Kite, a pale phase Booted Eagle and down in the reeds lots of scratching Great Reed Warblers (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus).
Next came lunch just up the road and once we finished we made our way back towards the lake at Dehesa de Abajo but called at a Pond Water Crowsfoot (Ranunculus Peltatus) covered pool seeing just a couple of Little Grebes and a male Common Pochard but best of all was the field next door which was covered in wild flowers.
Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
We again checked the lake again but only added a couple of Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) which passed over head.
Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
We then headed out along the tracks going south to the Centro de interpretación de José Antonio Valverde out in the centre of the marshes, on the drive down to Choza de Huerta Tejada we saw good numbers of birds including Little Egrets, Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), a fine Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), lots of Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo's and once we were at Choza de Huerta Tejada we were very pleased to find a Caspian Tern (Pagaza Piquiroja / Sterna caspia), a couple of immature Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), the first of a few Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), another Great Egret and lots of the species we had seen earlier.
Eurasian Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia).

Another good sight was when Pau Lucio a friend and guide from the Valencia area pulled up with his clients, it was good to have a chat with him and pick up a couple of good bits of info from him. Once we had finished catching up I took my group out along the track towards the center seeing a small colony of Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and whilst checking all the water filled areas we were very pleased when we came across a couple very smart and very rare Marbled Ducks (Cerceta Pardilla / Marmaronetta angustirostris) which were with a group of Common Pochards
Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
Just down the road another good find was a nice male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), also seen along this stretch were several Ravens, Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), a large group of roosting Spoonbills, Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Greater Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).
Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus).
We drove past the center and looked further along the track scanning the water again, we could not find the Marbled Ducks in this area so we were pleased that we had seen the two earlier. In this area and further along we saw White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), some superb Black-necked Grebes in full plumage, more very smart Whiskered Terns,  a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), lots of Purple Herons, a calling Purple / Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) hidden in the reeds and lots of Great Reed Warblers which sat out on the reed tops.
Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
Coming back along the track we parked at the centre but it was very quiet and we only added a couple of Squacco Herons (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and in the car park a few spikes of Small-tongue Orchids (Serapias parviflora).
Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
The day was almost over so we started the drive back towards Villamanrique along several different tracks looking at the large heron colony's in the Tamarisks to the left of the track. There were good numbers of Little and Western Cattle Egrets, Night, Squacco and Grey Herons all mixed in together as well as Yellow (Spanish) Wagtails, Corn Buntings, Greater Short-toed and Crested Larks, European Bee-eater and just as we reached the tarmac a female Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and even nearer the hotel a Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) flew along side us for a short distance.
Pierre scanning the Herons on the way back to the hotel.
Once we were back we had a very quick freshen up before we sat down for our evening meal and log call.
The low sun towards the end of a superb day in the Doñana.

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