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WEATHER: hot and sunny all day. Temp 12 -30C

Our visit to the Roman Bridge at Mérida was the highlight of the day, we got there around 10:30am after leaving the Monfragύe Hotel at 9am. The bridge was bustling with people moving in both directions, mostly local people going to work or shopping.

the Roman Bridge at Merida is the longest Roman Bridge in existence today (790 meters long)

Glossy Ibis, White Storks, Great Cormorants and Cattle Egrets were constantly on the move above us, the sky was also full with Alpine Swifts, House Martins and Barn Swallows. We logged Serins and Greenfinches as we walked from the bus to the bridge trough a small aprk area.

looking upriver from the Roman Bridge - The Rio Guadiana

As soon as we got onto the bridge we could hear Golden Orioles calling from the trees upriver and it wasn’t too long before Steve called one out as it flew across from a tree on an island to the south bank, it was a beautiful male too!

Searching the trees below us we found a little party of Common Waxbills, very colourful little fellows they are. A Purple Swamphen moved around in the reeds with a couple of Moorhens, we also saw a few Warblers. Sedge Warbler, a Cetti’s was very loud and showy, Willow Warbler and Common Chiffchaffs fed in the tree tops and a Reed Warbler joined them foraging in the canopy. A blackcap was also seen by a couple of the group.

Willow Warbler taken by Tony Moore

Scanning the reeds we found a nice male Little Bittern, two more Swamphens, Grey Herons and a Purple Heron flew right over the top of us. A second Golden Oriole was seen, it was also called out by our American friend, Steve.

Common Waxbill - Tony Moore

Reed Warbler - Tony Moore

We scanned the distant breeding colony of Cattle Egrets and Glossy Ibis but could not see any Spoonbills or a Squacco Heron. Black Kites and a Booted Eagle were our only raptor sightings.

you can a little bit of a Little Bittern in this picture

We then drove to a local supermarket to pick up lunch supplies which we ate sitting on a grassy bank overlooking the dam at Alangé. Hundreds of Alpine Swifts filled the air all around us as we ate. We could see the reedbeds of the overflow river and watched Marsh Harriers, Little Egrets, Mallards and many Swallows. A Willow Warbler sang in one of the bushes in the car park and we saw Sardinian Warbler. A distant bird of prey sitting on a pylon looked very much like a Bonelli’s Eagle but it was too far away to clinch it.

Alpine Swift taken by Tony Moore

We set out now for the long journey to El Rócio, it was a  two hour journey from where we were at Alangé. We made one stop at the half-way point and arrived at the Laguna Madre de Marissmas outside of El Rócio at 4pm. The laguna was full to the brim, almost bursting its banks, this had two negative consequences. Firstly, no waders were present as the water was too deep and secondly the extra water all over Donaña caused an explosion in the population of mosquitoes!!

We saw a few new species for the list, Squacco Heron, Greater Flamingo, Greylag Goose, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Shoveler and there were dozens of Eurasian Spoonbills feeding out there. A couple of Collared Pratincoles flew around high above the water, we also saw Black Kites, a single Griffon Vulture, Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins, a single Black-winged Stilt, Common Coot and lots of mosquitoes.

Eurasian Spoonbills out in the Laguna Madre de Marissmas

A walk along a sandy track near the shore of the lake produced a Savi’s Warbler (singing), Common Stonechat, Reed Warbler and not much else. We arrived at the hotel in El Rócio around 6pm. After settling into our rooms most of the group went into the bar after that, birding was finished for the day.

We ate a lovely meal at 8pm and retired around 10pm. A long day.