5th-20th April 2015 pt.1
Donana National Park is the largest nature reserve in Europe and although the majority of the 543km2 that it encompasses is inaccessible to the public, it is definitely well worth a visit as there are still several public access points that can provide excellent views of the abundant birdlife.
Most of the time, the flamingos were very distant, but I found that if I was the first person to get to the roadside viewing points in the early morning, then they were sometimes close enough to more than fill the frame in the view finder and I could occassionally get about 20 or 30 minutes of quality time before other traffic arrived and the birds moved further and further away.
The heron colony at the Jose Valverde visitor's centre was another productive site, although it was a little on the distant side and I could only get decent frame-filling images by using the 2x extender on the 600mm.
The majority of the birds in the colony were Cattle Egrets and Glossy Ibis, but there were also a few pairs of Little Egret and Black-crowned Night-herons there as well.
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
juvenile Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
The juvenile Pallid Harrier I found perched on a fence post near Isla Mayor was a bit of a surprise. They are very rare in southwest Spain.
White Storks are common in the area and flocks of 50 or more can often be seen feeding in the fields and marshes.
Purple Herons are also common in the surrounding marshes, but are usually very shy and secretive with only their heads poking above the long grasses.
Red-knobbed Coots are being re-introduced to Donana and birds that are part of of the re-introduction programme can easily be identified by their white neck collars.
Spring migration was well underway and by the middle of the month the reedbeds were packed with noisily singing Great Reed Warblers.
Common Waxbills, a species introduced to Spain from Africa, could also occasionally be observed feeding on seeds in the reedbeds and surrounding scrub.
The many marshy fields in the area were a popular stopping off point for migrating Yellow Wagtails, with both the "Blue-headed" and "British" subspecies passing through.
Other migrant passerines included several warblers such as Bonelli's, Willow and Melodious Warblers.
Crested Larks are very common residents in southern Spain.
In Spain, European Starlings are replaced by Spotless Starling, a similar species unsurprisingly identified by its lack of spots.
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