MALAGA AIRPORT TO COTO DONANA VIA SEVILLA WITH STOPS AT LAGUNA FUENTE DE PIEDRAS – MARISMAS DE MADRE EL ROCIO
All good laid plans went perfectly well today – amazing! So Dawn and I set out for Malaga at 6am and arrived with plenty of time to spare for Dawn to check-in and catch her flight back to the UK. I killed some time with Café Americano and Tostado, yummy. Then I returned my car to the hire company, picked up a minibus from another company and drove back to the airport.
My client Gerald arrived early, Carolyn was already at the airport and we all drove round to a nearby hotel to collect Paul. We notched some swifts above the terminal building, Monk Parakeets, Spotless Starlings, Barn Swallows, House Martins and Common Swifts (huge flocks of them) at Paul’s Hotel.
We all then set off for Laguna Fuente de Piedras, it took just under an hour to get there and it rained all the way. The rain had lightened somewhat when we arrived so it was OK to walk around, but it was very windy and cold!
Water, water everywhere, but too much to bear! The pools along the approached road were deep, so not many waders were present. Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocets waded in the water, a Common Sandpiper and several Little Ringed plovers ran around in the short, wet grass. A large flock of Greater Flamingos and a few Mallards fed in the deeper pools.
Then Paul called out ‘Cuckoo’ and sure enough it was a GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO, well I never, Paul was on this very trip two years ago and lo and behold he found a GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO at this very spot!!
From the boardwalk and a higher pathway we saw Gull-billed Tern, several Yellow Wagtails, Crested Lark a few more Pied Avocets and thousands of Greater Flamingos out on the main laguna.
The larger of the three lagunas around the back of the reserve centre was the most productive, we heard both GREAT REED WARBLER and CETTI’S WARBLER as we walked round there. The laguna was covered in Northern Shovelers with smaller numbers of Common & Red-crested Pochard, Mallard, Gadwall and the prize find, WHITED-HEADED DUCK.
A flock of seven Black-necked Grebes were joined by a couple of pairs of Little Gebes and dozens of summer plumaged Black-headed Gulls were nesting in the little space available on three very small islands.
From Laguna Fuente de Piedras we drove a short way and stopped for a bite to eat and some caffeine. The journey to Sevilla was quite horrendous, the rain came down in a torrent and the visibility was very poor. During the breaks in the rain we managed to list Iberian Magpie, Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite, White Stork and a few Collared Pratincoles.
We collected Steve and Robin from the centre of Sevilla and then spent an hour driving to El Rocio in Coto Donana. The weather improved, the rain showers were less frequent and patches of blue sky appeared. Common Raven, more Iberian Magpies, Eurasian Magpie, Greenfinch, Black Kite and more White Storks were noted.
At El Rocio we spent some time birding the large laguna before checking into the hotel. We added Eurasian Spoonbill, Greylag Goose, Red-rumped Swallow and Black-tailed Godwits (some of them in superb summer plumage) to our list.
Our arrival at our hotel was at 6pm. After settling in we meet at 7:30pm for a lovely dinner, taken indoors because it was too cold to sit outside.