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WEATHER: all day sunshine, light breeze. Temp 12 – 28C

After our light breakfast of coffee and toast we drove around to the La Rocina Reserve entrance but by-passed the pine woods and board-walks and went straight to the heathland near the Palicio del Acebron. We searched for Dartford and Spectacled Warblers and soon realised that the plague of mosquitos was going to be a problem throughout the next few days. I have never experienced insect infestation to this extent before in Doñana or anywhere else in Spain, it was because of the recent heavy rains, standing water is everywhere you looked, ideal conditions for mosquitos.

We saw Dartford Warbler several times, also Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Crested Lark, Woodchat Shrike, European Bee-eaters, Eurasian Hoopoe, Black Kites, but not the elusive Spectacled Warbler. We were happy to abandon our search rather quickly.

The insects were not as bad in the car park at Palicio del Acebron, but in places throughout the woodland they were. We spent nearly two hours walking through the only deciduous woodland in Doñana, the bird song throughout the woodland was terrific. Many Nightingales delivered their melodious renditions, support by Cetti’s Warblers, Blackcaps, Iberian Chiffchaffs, Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, Blue Tits as well as doves and Wodpeckers (drumming and calling).

the extent some people will go to avoid a mozzie bite, I love his little fly-swatter. Tony Moore at his very best.

Our bird list wasn't large, but we enjoyed some great sightings especially those of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. We tracked down a couple of Iberian Chiffchaffs too and had excellent views of Crested Tits in the pines. We also watched Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Serins, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Long-tailed Tits and we saw our first Wren of the trip.

two pictures of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker by Tony Moore

this bird was excavating a nest hole - picture by Tony Moore

Back at the car park we ate our picnic lunch before driving back to the pine woods at La Rocina. It was now very hot in the early afternoon so the shelter of the pine trees was most welcomed. We watched Tree Sparrows in the pines before we entered the first hide which overlooks the flooded Charco de la Boca stream which feeds the Laguna de la Madre de Marismas at El Rocio.

Two Spoonbill pictures taken by Tony Moore

On the water we saw many species we had already seen on the laguna, but we had much better views of Common and Red-crested Pochards, also Shoveler, Gadwall and our first Little Grebes. We had close views of Iberian Magpies, Woodchat Shrike, Serins and we could hear the buzzing call of the Savi’s Warbler but we could not see it.

Red-crested Pochard taken by Tony Moore

The second hide produced much of the same but the walk there was very good, we had very close views of Reed Warbler, we heard Firecrest, more Savi’s Warblers called and on the return loop we found a melodious Warbler in full song.

Melodious Warbler not taken by Tony Moore

We then made a quick visit to the visitor’s centre at Acebuche which was about 10km down the road towards the coast. Along the entrance way we stopped to look at Bee-eaters when two male Golden Orioles flew into view and perched out in the open, what a fantastic sighting, two of the most colourful birds in Europe, together!

Golden Oriole taken from the bus by Tony Moore

At the Centre we stopped for coffee and ice-cream but our walks to two of the hides produced nothing new, in fact the laguna in front of the hide remained dry even after the recent deluge of rain. The hides over looked dry flower laden meadows.

Iberian Magpie taken by Tony Moore

On the way back we made a short visit to the Laguna at El Rocío which produced nothing new, the water levels are far too high for any waders to feed, there was just one Black-winged Stilt, a few Spoonbills, Greylag Geese, Greater Flamingos and Mallards.

We finished the day at that point and returned to the hotel at 6pm.