Doñana delights

 

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White-headed Duck © Inglorious Bustards

5 days – 10th January – 14th January 2021

(The tour report for 2018 is available here)

€1,000 for 5 days – including all accommodation, meals, guiding, transport, entrances and taxes. Excluding flights to Seville.

Deposit €200

Single supplement €100

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Iberian Lynx © Inglorious Bustards

Tour overview

With a fascinating range of habitats to visit, including Stone Pine woodland, reedbeds, rice paddies, open grassland and heathland, freshwater pools and coastal sand dunes and of course the famous marshes, it’s no wonder Coto Doñana attracts such a fantastic variety of birds.  We’ll take you to explore these habitats from our base in El Rocío, a lovely town with sandy streets that overlooks the lagoon, river and marshlands of the Doñana.

The Parque Nacional de Doñana is one of Europe’s most important wetland reserves and a major site for migrating birds. It is an immense area; the park itself and surrounding parque natural or Entorno de Doñana amount to over 1,300 sq km in the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cádiz.

Doñana is well known for its enormous variety of bird species, either permanent residents, winter visitors from north and central Europe or summer visitors from Africa. The park as a whole comprises three distinct kinds of ecosystem: the marismas, the Mediterranean scrublands and the coastal mobile dunes with their beaches.

We will enter the interior of the park by 4×4 and explore areas normally closed to the public, here we will hopefully see the stunning Iberian Lynx along with a vast array of wetland bird species and Spanish Imperial Eagle. We overnight in the picturesque village of El Rocio, which is a kin to a scene from bonanza!

We will also visit nearby salt-pans and wetlands for White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck and Red-knobbed Coot.

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Red-knobbed Coot © Inglorious Bustards

Finally we will visit friends managing traditional salt pans in the bay of Cadiz where we will get up close and personal with Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbills, Gulls and Waders.

To book your place on the above tour, check availability or for further information  contact us 

About Andalusia

This southernmost province of Spain is perhaps best known for its fantastic tapas, passionate discussions, and welcoming people.  However it is also the most biodiverse region not only in Spain, but the whole of Europe thanks to its huge range of habitats.

The Parque Nacional de Doñana itself is one of Europe’s most important wetland reserves and a major site for migrating birds. It is an immense area; the park itself and surrounding Entorno de Doñana cover over 1,300 sq km in the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla and Cádiz.

Doñana is well known for its enormous variety of bird species, either permanent residents, winter visitors from north and central Europe or summer visitors from Africa. There are three distinct kinds of ecosystem here: the marismas, the Mediterranean scrublands and the coastal mobile dunes with their beaches.

It is also one of the last strongholds of the Iberian Lynx – a beautiful feline that now holds the dubious honour of being the world’s most endangered cat.  If luck is on our side, we may see this awe-inspiring creature on our travels.

Expected Birds 

Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Western Osprey, Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Purple Swamphen, White and Black Storks, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish Plover Black-winged Stilt, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, and Caspian Terns.

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Kentish Plover © Inglorious Bustards

 

Itinerary

Day 1

You begin with a flight to Seville airport and a couple of hour’s drive south-west to our base at El Rocío, taking time to enjoy glimpses of larks, pipits and over wintering Hoopoes on the fertile farmland and orange groves that lie along the Guadalquivir river.

Our hotel at the edge of the village overlooks a splendid lagoon called ‘Madre de las Marismas’, which at this time of year will be teeming with Greater Flamingoes, waders and numerous other waterbirds, and a river and marshlands that lie within the Coto Doñana National Park.  Once we’ve settled into our rooms you’ll probably want to do some birding quite simply by looking out of the hotel!

However the village of El Rocío itself will also beckon, especially to wannabe cowboys and -girls!  Its sandy streets are still to this day lined with hitching posts for horses and lovely white-washed buildings, giving the feel of a sleepy Wild West town, and you’re sure to want to indulge in some urban birding and enjoy its laid back, slow-paced feel.

Day 2 – 4

To make the absolute best of local weather conditions and bird movements, the itinerary during our stay remains flexible.  However you can expect the following activities to make your stay a memorable one:

In the numerous local marshes, ponds and flooded channels, we’ll see many Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts and Glossy Ibis, and visit the best areas to look for the beautiful Marbled Duck.

At this time of year species should be numerous, amongst them storks, herons, waders, ducks, gulls and terns. Many of the marshes and ponds may be wetter at this time of year depending on recent rainfall patterns in Andalucia, but we hope to visit the pools at Dehesa de Abajo where an amazing number and variety of these wetland species should be present. We will also look for some of the region’s specialities, like Purple Swamphen and Red-knobbed Coot.

Adjacent rice paddies hold not only a great array of wetland species but also some of Spain’s resident “exotics” such as Common Waxbill, Yellow-crowned Bishop and Black-headed Weaver!

A day will also be spent visiting the marshland and salt pans to the east of the mouth of the Guadalquivir. Here we’ll be looking for large numbers of Greater Flamingo, as well wintering Western Osprey and Caspian Terns. A wide variety of waders use the lagoons to rest up and gather their strength on migration.  These should include such species as Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, and Pied Avocet. This is also one of the best sites in southern Spain for the beautiful Slender-billed Gull which often gather here in quite large numbers. Nearby the Laguna del Tarelo is a noted site for the rare and local White-headed Duck.

The Stone Pine woodlands are home to roving flocks of Iberian Magpies plus Hoopoes, Crested Tits and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We will also look for the Lesser Short-toed Lark among the marismas.

We’ll take a 4 x 4 vehicle into the Coto del Rey at the northern edge of the reserve, where we’ll explore a mixture of marshes and woodland.  This area holds the densest populations of raptors in the Coto Doñana with wintering Red Kite, Common Buzzard and even Booted Eagles present. Soaring flocks of Griffon Vultures are often joined by Marsh Harriers and Northern Goshawks and we should find one of the pairs of the Spanish Imperial Eagles which breed in the Coto del Rey area.

We will also have local knowledge and skill to help us look for the beautiful Iberian Lynx and these two factors combined with a dash of luck could well give us views of this Critically Endangered and enigmatic cat.

Day 5

This morning we sadly we have to return to Seville airport but with an opportunity to take in some nearby Birding before going our separate ways.

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Doñana in winter is a special experience © Inglorious Bustards

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Email us for further details, to check availability, booking and for details on how to pay through our secure online shop (all major credit / debit cards accepted).