SPAIN: DONANA & EXTREMADURA PART TWO

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ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS

PART THREE

 

 

ITINERARY

 

Thursday 30 April††††††††††† :††††††† Flight to Seville arriving 19:45. Transfer to Hostal Pino Donana in Hinojos

Friday 1 May††††††††††††††††† :††††††† Full day birding Donana NP eastern section. Overnight in Hinojos

Saturday 2 May††††††††††††† :††††††† Full day birding Donana NP around El Rocio. Overnight in Hinojos

Sunday 3 May††††††††††††††† : †††††† Transfer to Trujillo birding en route. Overnight at Hostal Julio

Monday 4 May††††††††††††††† :††††††† Birding Belen steppes & Monfrague NP. Overnight in Trujillo

Tuesday 5 May†††††††††††††† :††††††† Birding Monfrague & steppes around Trujillo. Overnight in Trujillo

Wednesday 6 May††††††††† :††††††† Birding the steppes around Trujillo. Overnight in Trujillo

Thursday 7 May††††††††††††† :††††††† Transfer to Seville birding en route. Onwards by train to Granada.

Friday 8 May††††††††††††††††† :††††††† Sightseeing in Granada. Overnight in Granada

Saturday 9 May††††††††††††† :††††††† Train to Ronda. Sightseeing Ronda. Overnight in Ronda

Sunday 10 May††††††††††††† :††††††† Sightseeing Ronda. Train to Cordoba. Overnight in Cordoba

Monday 11 May††††††††††††† :††††††† Sightseeing in Cordoba. Overnight in Cordoba

Tuesday 12 May†††††††††††† :††††††† Train to Seville. Sightseeing and overnight in Seville

Wednesday 13 May††††††† :††††††† Sightseeing in Seville. Overnight in Seville

Thursday 14 May††††††††††† :††††††† Sightseeing in Seville. Afternoon transfer to airport and flight home

 

DAILY ACCOUNTS

 

Thursday 30 April

After an uneventful two and an half hours flight we arrived on schedule on the Seville airport at 19:45. In the arrivals hall we were met by Peter Warham, our bird guide and driver for the coming week. After a 45 minutes drive we arrived in the small village of Hinojos, our base for the next three nights. The village lies just north of Donana NP and is perfectly located to explore Donana. We checked in at the perfectly adequate Hostal Pino Donana and onwards went to a local restaurant. Ordering the food was not easy as the menu was in Spanish only, but Peter who speaks Spanish fluently reached a helping hand by explaining what was on the menu. While enjoying our tapas and beer we discussed our plan for the next day. We went to bed at about 23:00.

 

Friday 1 May

We were up at 6:30 for a quick breakfast after which we headed out to explore the eastern section of Donana. After the village of Villamanrique de la Condesa we birded a track into the park following an unpaved road along the Rio Guadiamar river making several stops for birds. Here we had amongst Turtle-Dove, Sardinian Warbler, Cettiís Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serins and Corn Buntings. We onwards made a short walk at Sendero del Guadiamar where we had Nightingale in the woodlands at the river and Red-rumped Swallow. We pursued to a nice pinewood area surrounded by flowering fields. Here we had amongst Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Linnet and Azure-winged Magpies. We then headed into the open area towards the JAV visitor centre. One of the first birds observed was an excellent Black-winged Kite, my first record of this bird in Europe. Other birds we came across included Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Booted Eagle, Pied Avocet and Spanish Sparrows just to name a few. We onwards had a drink at the JAV visitor centre while watching the heron colony in the back of the building. From here we headed further west until the road ended up at a closed gate. Here we had distant views of another lifer: Spanish Imperial Eagle. We turned back to the visitor centre where Peter saw four birds flying across which were possibly Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. We onwards drove back towards the Guadiamar river via a different route and continued towards Dehesa de Abajo. A field just before a turnoff towards Dehesa de Abajo produced a large flock of Collared Pratincoles. Unfortunately the nearby lagoon did not produce the bird we had hoped for namely White-headed Duck. It was already 18:30 when we headed back to our hostal in Hinojos. In the evening we had dinner in the same restaurant as yesterday. Our day list produced 93 species of which 4 were new on my lifelist.

 

Saturday 2 May

We were again up early to explore the area around El Rocio. We took the road towards El Rocio leading through some expansive pinewoods. We made a short stop at a bridge crossing a small river were we Kingfisher. Arriving at El Rocio we first scanned the lagoon having amongst Black-tailed Godwit, Little & Eared Grebe, Grey Plover and hundreds of Greater Flamingos. An onwards walk through some fields surrounded by scrubs in the back end of the village produced new birds like Whinchat and Cirl Bunting. Another sandy track through some open woodlands produced Redstart, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher. We then paid a short visit to the Wild West village of El Rocio where we had a drink on a terrace near the church. Our next birding stop was at La Rocina where we birded the wetlands and heather area. The bird activity was very slow and the only new bird recorded was a Cirl Bunting and close-up views of a Wren who was nesting in one of the bird hides. We then headed on towards El Acebuche where we had lunch and later enjoyed the Azure-winged Magpies at the picnic area. It was fairly hot today and we decided to drive back to Hinojos and relax a bit during the afternoon. In the late afternoon we went out again and birded some pinewoods and woodlands close to Hinojos until 20:00. New birds recorded included amongst Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch and a Penduline Tit in a wooded area along a small creek. In the evening we again had dinner in the same restaurant. Our day list produced 87 species of which 17 were new on the trip list.

 

Sunday 3 May

After breakfast we packed our stuff for our onwards transfer to Trujillo in Extremadura. After about one hour we left Seville behind us and headed north via the excellent and nearly empty A-66 highway. Near Fuente de Cantos we left the highway and birded the EX-202 road towards Segura de Leon. The open terrain along this road produced amongst Red-legged Partridge, Little Bustard, Black-eared Wheatear and Blue Rock-Thrush. We also spend quite some time scanning the pastures for Sandgrouse but were unfortunately not successful. After a cup of coffee in Fuente de Cantos we headed further into Extremadura. We first had lunch some 20 km before Trujillo where we arrived at around 14:30. The next four days we were staying at the excellent Hostal Julio which was located at the edge of town. It was again fairly warm and we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in Trujillo. The small town has a nice historical centre which is absolutely worthwhile to explore. A walk up to the castle produced close-up views of a Hoopoe, and wonderful views over the plains surrounding the town. The main square was full of stalls because of the yearly National Cheese Fair. After a cool beer on a terrace at the square we walked back to our hostal to take a nice shower. In the evening we had a nice dinner on the hostalís terrace together with Peter. Todayís bird list produced 51 birds of which 4 were new for the trip.

 

Monday 4 May

We again started off early and first explored the plains along Belen Road near Trujillo. We slowly drove the road for about 10 km making several stops to scan for the steppes specialties. The birding along this road produced amongst Black Vulture, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew and several Great-spotted Cuckoo. Around 10:30 we headed towards Monfrague NP. Arriving there we first climbed the steps to the Castillo which provided an excellent view over the park and several new birds like Alpine Swift, Crag Martins, Black Redstart and the rare White-rumped Swift. We then headed further into Monfrague making several stops. Numerous Griffon Vultures were nesting on Pena Falcon as were several Black Storks. The bridge over the Tajo River held hundreds of House Martin nests. We then had lunch at the visitor centre near Villareal de san Carlos before heading on towards Portilla del Tietar. After scanning the cliff we had a juvenile Eagle-Owl who had just fledged. Unfortunately we did not see the adult. It was fairly hot in the afternoon and we decided to head back to Trujillo and try for the adult Eagle-Owl again the next morning. In the evening we again had a nice dinner on the terrace of our hostal. Today we saw 74 species of which 16 were new for the trip.

 

Tuesday 5 May

After an early breakfast we headed back to Monfrague to have another try to find the adult Eagle-Owl. When we arrived at Portilla del Tietar several birders were already scoping the cliff. We saw the juvenile but again failed to find the adult bird. A very unusual find were a flock of about twenty Black-headed Gulls flying across high above the cliff. Another unusual find were two Dutch birders that I had met before in Holland on a trip with our local bird group. A bit further down the road we had excellent views of a male Spanish Imperial Eagle. Around 10:30 we headed back making several stops en route. New birds included Pallid Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Subalpine Warbler and a Robin in the woodlands near the Tajo river bridge. After having a refreshing drink at the visitor centre we stopped at a bridge in a small gully with a stream. At the bridge we had Rock Petronia and a short walk into the gully produced Golden Eagle and two Hawfinches. Around 13:00 we drove back to Trujillo and decided to relax during the hot hours of the day. At 18:00 we headed out again and explored the first part of the small road towards Santa Marta de Magasca just north of Trujillo. We birded this road making several stops which produced new birds like Little Owl, several Thekla Larks, Western Olivaceous Warbler and a glimpse of four Black-bellied Sandgrouse. A field along the road also produced several Montaguís Harriers hawking for prey. On our way back we stopped at a spot which looked very good for nightjars. As dusk fell we were immediately rewarded with two Red-necked Nightjars flying over our heads. We arrived back late at the hostal having dinner at 22:00. Today we saw 83 species with 12 new for the trip.

 

Wednesday 6 May

This morning we explored the large steppes area north/northwest of Trujillo. Birds recorded included amongst Little Bustard, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Montagu Harrier and Red-legged Partridge. Unfortunately we did not find any new birds. A short walk in a gully produced Kingfisher, Cirl Bunting, White Wagtail and a Chiffchaff. We were not sure if it was Iberian as it was not calling. After a drink in the village of Santa Maria de Magasca we headed further north and ended up at the main Monfrague to Trujillo road just south of Torrejon el Rubio. We arrived back in Trujillo around 13:30 and had lunch and a couple of beers on the main square. Late afternoon we explored the Belen road again which produced one new bird for the trip: Western Bonelliís Warbler. We also had many Great Bustards (one group of 28 birds), Little Bustards and this time far better views of a couple of Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Another nice sight was a Great-spotted Cuckoo and a Common Cuckoo sitting on a fence just a couple of metres from each other. Today we had 62 birds with only one new for the list.

 

Thursday 7 May

Today we had to leave Trujillo. We had to catch the train in Seville at 16:00 and decided to leave early as we wanted to make some birding stops en route. Our first stop was at the old roman bridge in Merida. The river here has several wooded islets which are attracting a variety of birds. We recorded amongst Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Garden Warbler, Great Reed-Warbler and a few Common Waxbills which were new for the trip. We then headed further south and took the exit near Villafranca de los Barros to explore an area with rocky outcrops called Sierra de Hornachos. We scanned the cliff in the back of the village were we immediately found our target bird: Black Wheatear. Other interesting birds included Crag-Martin, Blue Rock-thrush and along the road further down the village we had Egyptian Vulture, Linnet and several more Black Wheatears. We also heard Wood Lark but were not able to find it. We then headed on to Seville where we arrived at the train station at 15:00. Peter helped us out by finding our way to the ticket booth. We said goodbye to him and thanked him for the wonderful and very enjoyable week together. At 16:00 we were on the train that took us to Granada for our second week of culture in Andalusia. Our birding week has ended up at 152 species of which 18 were new on my life list.

 

During the second week of our holiday we enjoyed the cultural splendours of Andalusia. We did the entire trip by train which appeared to be an excellent decision. Train transport in Andalusia is regular, cheap and a comfortable way of travelling. We also did not have to worry about finding our way in the cities and finding a parking in the middle of the city. The parking costs for the whole week alone would have been about the same price as the train tickets for both of us. The whole route between Seville, Granada, Ronda, Cordoba and back to Seville was only Euro 72,00 per person. In Granada of course we enjoyed the world famous Alhambra but also Albayzin, the Moorish quarter of the city. In Ronda we enjoyed amongst the Roman bridge over the gorge and the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. In Cordoba the Mezquita was high on our list and finally we enjoyed the many highlights of Seville like the cathedral and the Plaza de Espana.

 

 

 

 

 


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