Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spain/Portugal Summary

Back home and it's time to reflect on our 7-day trip to Spain/Portugal on what was not a full blown birding holiday but a week in which Dee and I shared our interests with an equal amount of birding and sightseeing, well 80/20%, god bless her.

We visited several birding sites over the period, three of which I've broken down below, ranging from Castro Marim in Portugal to Donana National Park in Spain, covering just over 1100 kilometers in our hire car from our base in Isla Canela, Costa De La Luz. It's our first visit to this particular area and so it was somewhat of a learning curve over the week regarding the best places to see what particular species etc, this of course will hold us in good stead if we ever plan to visit again.

Castro Marim is located here along with a list of our observations for the surrounding areas. We visited various locations within the locality over the week, mostly the saltpans and lagoons, and the highlights for this area were Collared Pratincole, Short-toed Eagle, Black-eared Wheatear, our only Spanish Sparrow of the whole trip and Thekla Lark (pictured). Other excellent species that can also be recorded here are Little and Great Bustard, but unfortunately we drew a blank during our visits. We did however see our first Swallowtail Butterflies within this area, a first for us both!

Donana National Park is about a 90-minute drive north from our location, linked here along with our observations. We paid two visits to this area during our stay which included El Rocio, Acebuche and The Acebron Path. The whole area is a wonderland for birders and thanks to Dee we managed an albeit short glimpse of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Donana being a prime site for this magnificent bird. Other birds worth a mention during our visits were a Purple Gallinule along with two chicks, numerous Black Kite, Montagu's and Hen Harrier, plus Calandra Lark and Ortolan Bunting (pictured).

Sendero Salinas Del Duque is a part of the marshes of Isla Canela and Isla Chritina, the busiest fishing port in Spain, and about a 5-minute drive from our hotel which boasts a myriad of pools and small lagoons. Although local we only managed two visits on our last day in the morning and evening, but did manage to add both Whimbrel and Curlew, two species we didn't previously have on our list. Here we also had nesting Spoonbill and Little Tern, plus more Collared Pratincole in flight. The area is also renown for Eagles but non were recorded during our visits.

Finally, returning from sightseeing in Seville, taking the back roads back to our Hotel, we discovered a small town called Neibla, located on the Rio (river) Tinto, where we stopped for photographs. The local church spire produced a nice surprise in the shape of a family of Lesser Kestrel and on the river edge we also came across a family of four Bee-eaters which were a delight to watch.

A big thank you must also go to my wife Dee (pictured) who has been a total star, having tirelessly matched me pace for pace while visiting these sites in 30C temperatures, and indeed we may not have registered Spanish Imperial Eagle if it wasn't for her eagle eyes, our first ever! I dedicate this post to you.

A full list of species observed can be found here!