TRANSFER FROM EXTREMADURA TO COTO DONANA WITH STOPS AT: RIO GUADIANA IN MÉRIDA – ALANGE DAM AND RESERVOIR – LAGUNA MADRE DE LA MARISMA
WEATHER: sunny all day with a chilly wind. Top temp 26C
It felt cold for most of the day but the light was just great, no clouds today. I can’t believe that during a transfer day we saw the greatest number of species than any other day so far!! Incredible! We set off at 9am after our breakfast and headed south west to Mérida where we made our first birding stop.
The Famous Roman Bridge spans the Rio Guadiana in the centre of town and we birded from the bridge for a good couple of hours. The light was superb and the birding followed suit. Many Cattle Egrets and Glossy Ibis were flying up or down the river, as well as Grey Herons, Little Egrets and the number of Alpine Swifts was impressive too. They came in very close proximity to us as they dashed below the bridge to visit their nests.
The Roiman Bridge at Merida
Some of our highlights included the sighting of three Little Bitterns, two males, also Purple Swamphens, Gull-billed Terns, Common Waxbills, Garden Warblers, Bonelli’s Warbler and Lorna & Mike found their very own Pied Flycatcher.
the 'mob' birding from the Bridge
WE drove to Alange but before we went birding there we stopped in town to buy lunch, after which, we drove to the huge dam at Alange Reservoir. From the car park at the head of the dam we walked a few meters along the track that follows the contour of the massive reservoir. There we found Black Wheatear and we had excellent views of Rock Bunting. Serins were buzzing around with Goldfinches and a few Griffon Vultures drifted over the towering rock face behind us.
Our on the reservoir we found Egyptian Geese and a flock of dodgy looking Greylags, Matt picked out some distant waders that looked like Greenshank with a Black-headed Gull. On a very distant pylon I picked out a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles, they were far off and the group were reluctant to accept them. Then another group of birders arrived and I showed their leader the eagles and he agreed that they were Bonelli’s.
Common Waxbill - this tiny finch from Africa is now well established in Spain
We left Alange and continued our journey to Donana stopping for fuel, coffee and ice-cream about half-way. We arrived in El Rocio around 5pm where we stopped to view the laguna Madre de Marisma from the west side.
All reports of a completely dry Donana were false, the laguna had water in it, it was very low but it was full of birds. We quickly added several new species to our list as we scoped the laguna from both the west and later from the east near our hotel.
Glossy Ibis taken from the walkway in El Rocio
It was magical out there, hundreds of Greater Flamingos were joined by Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Egrets and Herons. Plenty of waders were feeding or roosting, we saw Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Little stint, Little and Common Ringed Plovers. Matt picked out three Collared Pratincoles sitting on a distant island.
We heard Great Reed and Reed Warblers and watched both Black and Red Kites fly over, the sky was full of Swallows and Martins, it was superb out there, this polace is magical.
Dinner was taken out on the terrace, a nice glass of wine helped the dinner go down, ahhh….bliss!