Easter in Spain 2011organised and led by Garry Wilkinson https://picasaweb.google.com/normapp2/NIOCSpain#
Most of the group were bright eyed……
Saturday An early departure from Belfast International brought us to Malaga by lunchtime. 4 hire cars were eventually sorted and we set off in a convoy with 17 keen birders. Two Peugeots 508s had the latest sat nav. Two VW Passats didn't .
Garry was in the lead in a VW and drove off to Teba through complicated roundabouts …losing the rest of us who eventually stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant.
We met up at the Hotel Cartaya Garden in El Rompido, almost at the border with Portugal...in an area where it seems that only the Spanish take their holidays so it was quiet.
Bee eaters, Spotless Starling, Grouse, Swallow, Hen Harrier, Goldfinch, White Stork, Black Kite, Alpine Swift? Lesser Kestrel, Collared Pratincole, Common Swift,
Sunday 17th April 2011 Drove East to El Rocio a cowboy town with sand covered streets and hitching rails outside every building.
El Rocio is the destination for a famous Spanish pilgrimage. The streets are sandy with hitching rails along the house frontage, reminiscent of a set for the wild west..
El Rocio at Cota Donana: Red Kite, Glossy Ibis, Cettis Warbler, Back Kite, Booted Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Sedge Warbler, Pochard, Mallard, Moorhen, White Stork, Bee eater Great Reed Warbler, Red Crested Pochard, Osprey, Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Montague’s Harrier, Pallid Swift, Housemartin, Red Rumped Swallow, Serin, Greenfinch, Magpie, Hoopoe, Spoonbill.
Bee-eater © Richard Smith
Lunch was in the grounds of a former palace where we spotted Short Toed Treecreepers and Azure Winged Magpies.
Some took an evening walk to the side of the hotel with torches and saw Red Necked Nightjar, Tawny Owl (heard), Scops Owl (heard) and European Nightjar.
Monday. 18th April. An early morning walk beside the hotel produced Serin, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, a hare, Azure Winged Magpie, Cuckoo, Hoopoe and Little Tern.
Cota Donana. Heart flowered Orchids were only a lesser find compared to a beautiful male golden oriole which produced great excitement as it was a first for some of the members.
Pinus Pinea (Stone Pine) source of Pine nuts.
Tuesday 19th April Long drive North in heavy rain. The route was El Rompido, Sevilla, Merida, Trujillo, Belvis de Monroy. Lesser Kestrels in Trujillo flying around the bull ring. Motel at Belvis de Monroy overlooking ploughed fields one way and the motorway the other.
Wednesday 20th April. Monfrague national park was a first for many of the group. Garry was delighted to share in our amazement and delight at huge numbers of vultures and other raptors. The viewing point at Penafalcon overlooking the landscape is a popular spot and if you make the enormous effort to climb to the top you get this view below along with very close flying– Griffon, black and a few Egyptian Vultures.
View from Penafalcon and Griffon Vulture ©Richard Smith
At Aldea del Obispo the excitement of the afternoon was one Great bustard and four Little Bustards. Corn Buntings were everywhere. We passed a line of telegraph poles with nest boxes for European Rollers.
Thursday 21st April
2 Short Toed Eagle, Callandra Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Tawny Pipit, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Black Kite, Stone Curlew.
A Spectacled Warbler near Trujillo gave especially good views and brightened up a very
cold, windy and overcast afternoon
Back at Monfrague we stopped for lunch to watch the vultures circling the bare, craggy hill opposite.
At the hotel we found Turtle Doves in the ploughed field, a Ringed Plover, Back Shouldered Kite and a Great Grey Shrike. Birding from the bedroom window is a luxury especially when a White Stork is nesting beside your window!
Friday 22nd April. It was a cold and windy Good Friday so there was more traffic on the roads. Saucedilla Reserve is within a mile of the hotel so we spent some time on these wetlands. Quail, Savi’s Warbler, Little Bittern, Purple Swamp Hen, Azure Winged Magpie, Marsh Harrier and Great Reed Warbler were some of the highlights. It would be worth spending a whole day at this reserve.
Monfrague for a final visit produce Wren, Rock Bunting, Blue Rockthrush and a rare Black Stork. Some highly technical photographers showed us live images of an Eagle Owl chick on a nest.
Saturday 23rd April. Left the hotel at 3am for a drive of 555km to Malaga.
All in all the trip was highly interesting with two completely different areas to look at. The weather in the second half of the week was disappointing but was more than cancelled out by the vultures and raptors and of course the great “craic” along the way!
Thank you Garry for all the organization and leading
. …now where next?!
Late addition to this report
And just to show it wasn't all birds. Thanks to Ray Bennett for these pictures of orchids seen along the way.