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Zitting Cisticola - © Juan Gil

Sierra de las Nieves, the Alcornocales Nature Park, Strait of Gibraltar, Doñana, Odiel, and Seville (14 days)

Tour leaders: Iben Hove Sørensen & Cristian Jensen Marcet 

Group members: Mona & Larry Rogers, Ray & Anne Smith, Frederick & Ann Bogar, Molly & Frank Elkin, and Patricia Arant.

165 species recorded

This tour was arranged by Elderhostel and only available to Elderhostelers.

Sunday September 3rd – Day 1

Rendezvous at the airport in Malaga; all group members arrived directly from the U.S.A. where things had turned out a bit complicated due to the recent hurricanes and storms. This meant that we had to leave the airport without Patricia, who couldn't be expected until the next day. We headed towards the white village of El Burgo, nestled in dramatic Mediterranean mountains clothed with olive plantations, and along the road we stopped in a few places for our first encounters with the birdlife of the region. Booted and Short-toed Eagles were among the first ticks on our list, soon to be followed by Blue Rock Thrush. Once arrived in El Burgo and checked in at Hotel Casa Grande,we enjoyed an almost obligatory siesta after so many hours of travelling.

In the afternoon we met for an introductory talk, welcome drinks, and a line-out of the two weeks to come. A little later we were ready for a lovely paella in a local restaurant, following which we all went to bed with high expectations for the following days.

Monday September 4th - Day 2

Our first real birdwatching day of the trip started off with an excursion into the mountains of the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park. We drove up part of the windy road raising up above plantations of olives, chestnuts, and oranges, and then took a walk up the hill to explore the birds of the area. During the walk we had great views of Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Serin, and large groups of Common Crossbill. Several of the birds were seen drinking and having baths in a spring near the path, which allowed us to study them more in detail. The views across the valleys towards the bare mountain tops were amazing, and we took our time taking it all in. We had lunch in a peaceful white village in the valley below, and after lunch we started making our way back to El Burgo. 

Following by some free time in the afternoon, during which both Patricia and Iben arrived from Malaga airport, we met for Cristian's talk on identification of the various raptors we were expecting to see during the trip. Just after the talk, we went for a walk by the stream running through El Burgo. This walk was quite productive in terms of passerines, with good views of both Willow and Sardinian Warblers, Spotted Flycatcher, and several Grey Wagtails - one of them perched on a wire along with a group of House Sparrows!

Tuesday September 5th – Day 3

We woke up to another sunny day, packed the bus and headed for the city of Ronda, where we had a guided walk scheduled a couple of hours later. Our first stop was at a view point with excellent views across the valleys of the Sierra de las Nieves. Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, and Chaffinch, were seen on the nearby cliffs, and Turtle Dove, Eurasian Jay, and Pallid Swifts were flying overhead. After a while, the raptor migration picked up, and during an intense half hour we saw Griffon Vulture, Honey Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, and - the stars of the day - even a pair of Bonelli's Eagles flew along the ridge. As we continued along the narrow, curvy mountain roads we encountered a large group of Red-billed Chough foraging in a field, and soon after we spotted a beautiful Black-eared Wheatear posing on a fence. We also saw numerous Stonechats and larks, including a group of Wood Larks settling down (and disappearing) in a nearby field.

In Ronda we met with our guide Jesús, who wore one of the characteristical white guide hats and thus was quite easy to follow around the busy streets of Ronda. The walk along the impressive gorge cutting through the town centre revealed lots of Crag Martins and a Grey Wagtail down below, and a lone Booted Eagle circled the cliffs and impressed even Jesús. After having lunch in the beautiful Hotel Reina Victoria, and enjoying the view from the hotel gardens, we left Ronda and headed for the old convent of Almoraima.

Along the road to Almoraima, we were met with a great surprise; a dead cow near the road had been detected by hundreds of Griffon Vultures, and the carcass was just about to be consumed. The scene was amazing, and we stopped for as long as the traffic would allow gazing at the huge scavengers filling the air, fighting for access to the carcass, and slowly tearing the dead animal apart. A pair of Egyptian Vultures was circling above, but unfortunately they did not land whilst we were watching.

Nothing was scheduled for the early afternoon, so we all took our time settling in and exploring our new surroundings before Martin Jacoby's afternoon talk on the Biodiversity of South West Andalucia. The talk was quite a show with two presentors, two (later reduced to one) dias projectors, and plenty of information about the area's wildlife and flora. After the talk we went out for a walk in the big garden and the surrounding oak forest, where we encountered numerous Firecrests, and also had both Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Sparrowhawk fly by. We returned to the convent for a great dinner consisting of a white garlic soup (after a great deal of discussion as to the ingredients of this soup, the chef wrote down the recipe, and I suspect that somewhere in America someone will be making white garlic soup before long...), fish, and a lovely chocolate dessert.

Wednesday September 6th – Day 4

The plan for this morning was to walk upstream the Hozgarganta River from Jimena de la Frontera, and the motivation for finishing the walk was lunch at the other end. We started out from the bridge crossing the river, and a brief scanning of our surroundings here resulted in Great Tit, singing Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, and Greenfinch. Along the river we had several great views of Blue Rock Thrush, and a little group of Griffon Vultures were cunningly perched just above a dangerously positioned domestic goat away from its group. Above the valley we had good views of several Booted Eagles, and also Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, and, once again, a soaring Bonelli's Eagle! Efforts to convince the group that this bird is actually relatively scarce in the area were obviously wasted; after seeing three individuals during our first four days, the Bonelli's Eagle was ranked as being more numerous than the Montagu's Harrier by several group members...  As we entered the more forested part of the walk, we had great views of a young Woodchat Shrike perched on a wire, accompanied at a distance by a couple of Crested Tits and a Blue Tit. A female Cirl Bunting was encountered in the same area. After the steep climb, during which a couple of Sardinian Warblers came fairly close to the group, we headed for the campsite and lunch - and even a Short-toed Eagle hovering above the fields could barely make us slow down that close to shade, beer, and good food!

After lunch and a couple of hours' siesta at the convent, Cristian did a talk on identification of birds by their song - and which better place to perform such a talk than the convent gardens!? We had great response from both Firecrest and Short-toed Tree-creeper, whereas a Great Spotted Woodpecker seemed to prefer calling every time we had all forgotten his presence in the nearby woods. The dinner was again great, this time consisting of gazpacho and a delicious steak of wild boar.

Thursday September 7th – Day 5

Birders in Castellar el Viejo - © Cristian Jensen Marcet

It was now time to leave the old convent and move on towards Tarifa and the Strait of Gibraltar. Our first stop en route was at the fortified village of Castellar del Viejo; a stunning old town with great views over the valleys and a large reservoir, and with a solid, castle-like appearance. It came as no surprise that pigeons and kestrels were nesting on the old stone walls, and the presence of vultures in the air fitted in well with the general atmosphere of the place. Honey Buzzard and Booted Eagle were the most numerous raptor species on migration that day, and our high vantage point enabled us to look down on several of the migrating birds and thus get a good look at them from an unusual angle. Thousands of House Martins perched on the electricity wires just outside the village, and mixed groups of Crag and House Martins wheeled in and out of doorways and wall openings; many of them close enough to touch, and certainly at an ideal range for positive identification!

From Castellar we headed for the restaurant El Molino Del Conde, where we were to have our lunch. Before the meal we had time to visit a nearby colony of White Stork with a few birds still on their nests, and we also caught a our first glimpse of a Black Stork off in the distance. In the forested garden behind the restaurant, we had good views of European Robin, Firecrest, and Blue Tit, while a pair of Booted Eagles kept circling overhead.

In the afternoon we arrived at Huerta Grande, in the southern part of the Alcornocales Nature Park, which was to be our base during the following four days. This rural complex is very well situated, and most days bring migrating raptors across the sky just above the cabins. This afternoon was no exception, and some enjoyed the Honey Buzzards flapping overhead from a relaxed position by the swimming pool, whilst others had a well-deserved siesta. Our evening meal was consumed in the nearby restaurant El Bosque, situated only a (slightly adventurous) 300 metres' walk away from the main buildings.

Friday September 8th – Day 6

Gibraltar Ape - © Cristian Jensen Marcet

The main excursion of this day was a tour of Gibraltar, and we left Huerta Grande just after breakfast. It was again a windy and slightly overcast day, but even from a distance we could see the impressive Rock of Gibraltar. The place was busy as always, but our decision to walk through customs saved us from a long queue and a lot of waiting time. Our guide took us through the town rather quickly and then allowed us some extra time at Europa point, where we saw our first Yellow-legged Gulls close up, and also caught a few glimpses of distant Balearic Shearwaters and a couple of Gannets. Despite a recent change in the 'ape politics' of Gibraltar, which means that the Barbary Apes are now left more to themselves, several individuals were found at the old feeding station. The population seemed to be doing well, with several babies in the flock, but it was obvious that many individuals were seeking food further away from the group than previously, and apes could be seen on rooftops, city walls, and other structures in the distance.

Back on Spanish ground, we went to a restaurant on the beach near La Linea. Outside the restaurant, surrounded by hopeful gulls, a guy was grilling sardines; to our (especially Ray's) big disappointment these were not for us. During lunch, Fred spotted a Gannet over the sea, and a second individual was later seen from the beach. The birds by the shore were also scanned, and we found a group of Sanderling as well as a Lesser Black-backed Gull mixed in with a large group of Yellow-legged Gulls. We then headed back to the hotel, where the afternoon was spent relaxing and birdwatching around the garden. At 6pm we met up with David Barros, who gave us a very interesting talk on the ornithological importance of the Strait of Gibraltar. The whole talk was translated by Cristian, which dragged things out a bit, and we ended up going straight to the restaurant after the talk.

Saturday September 9th – Day 7

This morning we met up with David Ríos, who was to introduce us to the techniques of mist netting and bird banding. He had set up three nets inside the hotel garden, and soon after breakfast he was able to show us two Blackcaps and a Robin in the hand - after listening to Blackcaps calling all around us for a week, it was a relief to finally get good looks of this species. During the banding session we were able to enjoy a flock of Hawfinches foraging and resting in the nearest group of trees, as well as numerous raptors flying overhead. Several Short-toed Eagles and Honey Buzzards made an attempt at crossing the strait despite the easterly winds picking up, and Griffon Vultures were also on the wings this morning.

After the banding session we headed for the coastal village of Bolonia, with a stop at the Migres raptor watching point of Cazalla. This stop proved to be highly rewarding, with superb views of close to 20 Egyptian Vultures flying low over the rolling hills, as well as large numbers of Honey Buzzards and Booted and Short-toed Eagles, and it was difficult to choose a good moment to leave. However, we pulled ourselves down the hill and rolled all the way down to the coast, where lunch awaited us by the beach in Bolonia. After lunch, some group members went for a walk around the nearby Roman ruins, whereas others did some more birdwatching in spite of the heat. The area provided good views of a diverse range of species including Gannet, Sandwich Tern, Crested Lark, Willow Warbler, and Stonechat.

From the beach, we drove up the rocky hillsides to an area with superb views across beaches, forests, and dry grasslands, in addition to breeding swifts, swallows, and vultures. On the way up we saw our second Woodchat Shrike, and a couple of Northern Wheatears, and we all cheered as a pair of Sardinian Warblers remained out in the open long enough for everyone to enjoy them. Although the breeding season was over, many birds were still found around their nesting sites, and we had great views of a Griffon Vulture roosting on its nest.

As the midday passed into the afternoon, we headed for the nearby area of La Janda; an old wetland which now consists mainly of agricultural lands. Driving slowly was required on the narrow track leading through the area, and Antonio did an excellent job - again! Barely into La Janda, we met with our first new species, a Green Sandpiper, soon to be followed by large flocks of Corn Bunting and Yellow Wagtail. Marsh and Montagu's Harriers were gliding elegantly over the fields, and a group of several hundred White Storks stood near the main channel running through the area. As we moved on, we encountered an empty field with several little waders foraging around the edges. Common Snipe, Little and Great Ringed Plover, Little Stint, and Black-winged Stilt were spotted first, yet a more intensive search revealed both Temminck's Stint and Pectoral Sandpiper; the latter was of course familiar to most group members and received only little attention, yet the guides were thrilled to have found a rarity (we later discovered that this bird was in fact the first record of Pectoral Sandpiper for the area!!). A few metres down the road, our attention were drawn by a large group of vultures sitting in the distance. Telescopes revealed a carcass and several Griffon Vultures, and in their midst a young Rüppell's Vulture! Two rarities in less than half an hour!

The rest of the journey down the bumpy road was dominated by large flocks of various species. In the fields Cattle Egrets and White Storks were dominant, whereas finches and sparrows dominated the reed beds along the channels. Spanish Sparrows mixed in with the large House Sparrow flocks, and we counted Goldfinches by the hundreds. Zitting Cisticola was also new on the list, and the task of getting good views of this little bird caused some frustration. A group of Lesser Kestrels were foraging in a newly harvested field, and these small raptors were frequently seen sitting on the ground with an unlucky dragonfly or grasshopper. As we approached the end of La Janda (and, to Antonio's relief, a real road), we spotted two Black Storks standing in a field and a third flying overhead, and we also had great views of Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, and even a couple of Glossy Ibis. We went back to Huerta Grande for dinner, all of us well satisfied with this day's rather intensive bird watching.

Sunday September 10th – Day 8

This Sunday morning we were met with rather strong easterly winds, and it was obvious that we would not be able to go sea watching in the Strait of Gibraltar as planned. Instead, we went for a boat ride inside the bay of Algeciras, where we watched several large groups of Common Dolphin swim playfully around the boat. Numerous shearwaters - mainly Cory's, but also a few Balearic - surfed the waves and often appeared very close to the boat, and both Sandwich and Black Terns were seen foraging in the bay. The omnipresent Yellow-legged Gulls were accompanied by a few Audouin's Gulls, and a couple of young Gannets courageously went up against the wind only to seconds later disappear in the waves. A Moonfish was lying motionless in the water, with only its large fin visible, and schools of little fish were continuously chased by the hungry dolphins.

Following the boat trip, we headed for the Migres watch point of Algarrobo, where we had decided to have our picnic lunch whilst hopefully watching some migrating raptors. Again, it was a tough job being the bus driver. Once off the road, it was impossible to turn around before reaching the top, so we slowly made it up the windy road (with some modifications of the surrounding vegetation). Once we were up there, we found ourselves surrounded by migrating eagles and fellow birdwatchers. Booted and Short-toed Eagles were numerous, and we also saw a large number of passing Black Kites. Egyptian Vulture, Sparrowhawk, and Honey Buzzard, were also seen in smaller numbers, and a Hobby was spotted as it made its way down the nearest valley. When everyone had finsihed their lunch and the raptor migration seemed to die down, we headed back to Huerta Grande for a couple of hours relaxation in the garden before dinner.

Monday September 11th – Day 9

This morning we had to pack the bus again, and head further west - towards the Wild West town of El Rocio, on the edge of the Doñana National Park. It was a long and beautiful drive across the Alcornocales Nature Park, and we saw several Booted Eagles and Griffon Vultures along the way. Our first stop was at a small cafeteria in Sanlucar, where we enjoyed the local sherry as well as coffee and ice cream from the bar.

Just outside Sanlucar, we visited the Bonanza saltpans, and it really was a bird bonanza! Barely inside the saltpans, we were met by large groups of Coot, with a few Little and Great Crested Grebes interspersed, and among the ducks of the same little lagoon were Common and Red-crested Pochards, Mallard, and White-headed Duck. Further ahead we were met with a group of several hundred Avocets, and large flocks of Dunlin were accompanied by a couple of Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderlings, and a single Ruddy Turnstone. Redshanks were seen flying above the saltpans, and a large group of Greater Flamingo was foraging in the shallow, pink water. A pair of Ospreys appeared high in the sky, only to disappear again after a brief show above our heads. A large group of roosting gulls was composed mainly of Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls, whereas the terns fishing elegantly along the channels were mainly Little and Whiskered Terns. As we were making our way out of the saltpans, we caught a glimpse of a Purple Heron in the distance, but a Caspian Tern appeared at the same time, and much closer, so the heron did not receive much attention.

From the saltpans we headed straight for our lunch appointment at a restaurant inside Sanlucar. The meal turned out to be a four course experience, and none of us came even close to finishing all four dishes. However, Molly & Frank found just that extra bit of space for one of their favourite, chocolate-covered Magnums, and we all left the restaurant more than satisfied! On our way out of town we passed the little cafeteria again, and this time our sherry tasting was a little more adventurous; several varieties were tested, and the choosing process was to some extent helped by one of the locals having lunch at the bar.

We arrived at El Rocio in the late afternoon, and after checking in we went straight for dinner at the restaurant across the street, where paella and sangria ad libitum seemed to make everyone happy!

Tuesday September 12th – Day 10

We woke up to a beautiful morning and went out to have a look at the marshes of El Rocio before breakfast. As the rest of Doñana, the marshes were completely dry at this time of year, and lots of horses, cows, and deer, were seen grazing in the flat marshland. A Red Kite sat perched in the early morning light, and six Eurasian Spoonbills were found amongst a large group of Grey Herons. At the opposite end of the marsh, we spotted a pair of Black Storks, and several Magpies, Willow Warblers, and Spotted Flycatchers were seen along the edge of the marsh.

From El Rocio we drove towards the area of Dehesa de Abajo. Passing through the dry fields near the Valverde visitor centre, we spotted a flock of Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks, and we also had great views of a Hoopoe hunting for insects in the shade. Sand Martins and Spotted Flycatchers were seen repeatedly in aerial hunts for flies or other little bugs, and Melodious and Willow Warblers flitted about in the tall grass between the track and the channel. In Dehesa de Abajo we encountered a couple of empty rice fields teeming with life. Among hundreds of Black-winged Stilts and almost equal numbers of Glossy Ibis, we spotted several species of shorebirds and ducks; new species including Common Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, and Wood and Common Sandpipers. Across the road a little group of Red-rumped Swallows were hunting over some shallow lakes, and everyone finally got to see them under perfect conditions. Large flocks of White Storks were seen along the road, and around fifteen Northern Lapwings took off as we passed; thus attracting our attention to a number of plovers remaining in the same field.

At lunchtime, we found ourselves in restaurant Estero in the village of Isla Mayor, where we finally got to taste the local salmorejo - an Andalucian variant of the traditional gazpacho, and a dish that Pat had been looking forward to trying since hearing about it from a friend back in the States. After lunch, we headed out towards the rice fields on the other side of town, where we finally got good looks of Purple Herons; at this time of year only a few are left in the area, and they hide surprisingly well in the tall rice. A few Kingfishers made their ways down the channels between the rice fields, but few caught more than just a greenish blue glimpse of these beautiful birds. 

As we drove along, dark clouds started to build up in the distance, and before long the first rain drops began to fall. Despite the appearance of the clouds, the first drops were also the only ones, and Doñana - at least this part - remained dry for now. On the way home we had a good look at a perched Black-winged Kite, and passing views of a flock of Jackdaws coming in to land on an electricity tower.

Back in El Rocio, the sandy streets were wet from the rain, but the marsh was, not surprisingly, unaffected by the sparse rain this afternoon. We met with Jon Jauregui, who was giving us a talk on the diversity of habitats and animal life in Doñana, and as usual his speech was highly informative and well presented. Following Jon's talk, Larry and Mona served us all a great Catalan cava in celebration of nothing less than their 100th lifer during the trip, and we toasted several times to this anniversary before heading for dinner in a restaurant around the corner.

Wednesday September 13th – Day 11

This morning we went straight to the information centre at El Acebuche, where we were to have our breakfast before embarking the land rover excursion through the National Park of Doñana. We met with our guide, Gonzalo, and the other participants at 8.30 and headed for the beach in the early morning light. The long stretch of untouched beach provided good resting grounds for terns, gulls, and shorebirds, and we quickly reached our first group of Audouin's Gulls. Further down we encountered a large group of Sandwich and Common Terns - yet one of them looked odd; with a yellow bill! We stopped the bus, and we found ourselves looking at our third rarity during the trip - a Lesser Crested Tern! Sanderlings and Kentish Plovers foraged along the shore, and a large group of Oystercatchers was roosting among the terns and gulls on the beach. Above the waves we spotted a couple of Balearic Shearwaters, as well as a Common Scoter flying low over the water.

As we headed inland, across the bumpy dunes, we were met by tracks of various mammals, reptiles, and birds, and soon we also caught our first glimpses of Hoopoes, flycatchers, and swallows. Entering the forest, we came very close to several individuals of both Fallow and Red Deer, and we also passed several Wild Boars. More importantly, Gonzalo suddenly spotted something in the distance and quickly went off track and back inside the forest. An adult Spanish Imperial Eagle perched in a tree top allowed us to get fairly close, and from inside the bus we had great views of this majestic bird sunning itself. After a while, we returned to the normal route, and entered the dry marsh. We had only gone a couple of hundred metres when a large bird took off from the ground just in front of us - a second Spanish Imperial Eagle, this time a juvenile in its light brown plumage. This bird went straight to a tree at the edge of the marsh, and we were again free to enjoy a perched eagle for as long as we wanted. After the excursion, we enjoyed our picnics surrounded by Azure-winged Magpies, and we also had some time for buying t-shirts and pins in the gift shop.

Back in the hotel, the last activity included dissection of Long-eared Owl pellets and a brief introduction to the subject of bone identification by Cristian. Plenty of teeth and bones of shrews, mice and voles were discovered; some of the pellets containing evidence of up to five individual prey items. After this appetising starter, everyone went out on their own to explore the dining options of El Rocio - some had trouble finding a place to have tapas, but nobody returned hungry (which would also have been a first on this trip!).

Thursday September 14th – Day 12

We left the hotel after breakfast and headed towards Huelva, and the marshes and salt pans of the Odiel River. At the information centre we met Manuel, our local guide for the morning, and headed off towards the salt pans. In spite of Manuel's careful guiding, Antonio repeatedly left the driver's seat to make sure that his precious bus would be able to pass branches and pot holes without any major scratches. Again, he made an art out of driving the bus, and the only disapproving expression on his face was due to the mud on our boots. The first stop was at a hide in the forest overlooking a couple of tiny lagoons, where we saw several ducks and shorebirds, and also a perched Kingfisher sitting by the bank. Little Egrets and Spoonbills were foraging in the shallow water, and Curlew Sandpipers were searching the muddy edges.

When we entered the salt pans, we immediately spotted a large group of Flamingoes foraging in the shallow water, and a quick demonstration by Manuel allowed us to examine the minute, pink crustacean (Artemia salina) that gives these pretty birds their touch of pink. Apart from giving colour to the flamingoes, this crustacean provides food for thousands of shorebirds, gulls, and terns, and this morning we encountered a mixed and very impressive assembly of species. Large groups of wintering Black-necked Grebes and Slender-billed Gulls were floating around in the lagoons, and numerous Black-tailed Godwits roosted in the salt pans accompanied by Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Little Stint. This same salt pan proved a good spot for terns, and we had excellent opportunities for comparing sizes of Caspian, Sandwich, Common, and Little Terns. Several Great Cormorants were seen flying around, and also drying their wings while perched on the dikes between the salt pans. As we were about to leave, a Spotted Redshank was seen in the distance, and everyone got out of the bus a second time for this elegant wader.

Once out of the salt pans, we continued birdwatching along the Odiel River, where several new wader species were added to our list. Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, and Greenshank were seen close up in the small channels along the road, and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit landed just as we were scanning a group of their Black-tailed cousin. Although birdwatching should never be done in a hurried manner, we were determined not to miss out on our lunch appointment in the new restaurant by the saltpans, and so we turned around in due time to enjoy the tapas, fish, and irresistable desserts they served us!

After lunch, we went back towards El Rocio, with just one little stop by the lagoon of Palos - just a few metres and a railroad track away from the main road, but with an impressive number of waterfowl. Here, we all had great views of Purple Gallinule, Red-knobbed Coot, and Gadwall, and a nice surprise in the shape of a juvenile Ferruginous Duck hiding amongst Common Pochards across the lagoon.

Back in El Rocio, we had time to explore the town and the church, which is visited by thousands of people every year in May, before we met for dinner in the restaurant of El Toruño.

Friday September 15th – Day 13

This morning we left the sandy streets of El Rocio and headed for the city of Seville, where the group enjoyed a guided tour of the city in the company of Moisés, whilst Iben & Cristian were looking after the luggage. Following the tour, we all checked in and got ready for our farewell lunch. The lunch was served in Hotel Husa los Seises, and the appetisers served in the courtyard allowed us time to exchange addresses as well as thoughts on the trip. The lunch was good, and we all enjoyed having time for looking back on the trip in a relaxed atmosphere (although the choice of music could have been better - we all listened to the soundtrack from Rocky sometime in the 80's, and did not really miss it...).

We had no plans for the afternoon, so most people ventured out into Seville's streets, shopping and enjoying the cultural opportunities of the city. Once again, we were also free to explore the dining options on our own, and most of us went out to try some more tapas in the small streets around the hotel.

Saturday September 16th – Day 14

To Iben's big relief, everyone showed up on time the next morning, and we were met by a splendid breakfast buffet in the restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't have time to enjoy all the dishes, as we had an early departure from Seville airport, but we made the most of it! Everyone checked in without problems - even those without tickets! - and the group leaders headed for El Burgo where their van and the start of a new tour awaited them.


A big thank you to all of you for a wonderful trip! We had a great time, you were a great group to travel with, and we hope to see you one day here in Catalonia! In the meantime, all the best, and good birding!

See you,

Cristian and Iben

Comments from Mona & Larry

Spain is a wonderful memory. When people ask us how our vacation was, we always say that southern Spain was beautiful, the food and wine excellent, the birding superb, and our guides were really great. Many, many thanks for an excellent trip, guys!

Bird list

  • 1. Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
  • 2. Black-necked Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
  • 3. Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • 4. Cory's Shearwater - Calonectris diomedea
  • 5. Balearic Shearwater - Puffinus mauretanicus
  • 6. Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
  • 7. Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus
  • 8. Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
  • 9. Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
  • 10. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
  • 11. Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
  • 12. Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
  • 13. Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
  • 14. White Stork - Ciconia ciconia
  • 15. Black Stork - Ciconia nigra
  • 16. Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
  • 17. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
  • 18. Gadwall - Anas strepera
  • 19. Common Teal - Anas crecca
  • 20. Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
  • 21. Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  • 22. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
  • 23. Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
  • 24. Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
  • 25. Common Scoter - Melanitta nigra
  • 26. White-headed Duck - Oxyura leucocephala
  • 27. Egyptian Vulture - Neophron percnopterus
  • 28. Rüppell's Vulture - Gyps rueppellii
  • 29. Eurasian Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
  • 30. Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
  • 31. European Honey-Buzzard - Pernis apivorus
  • 32. Red Kite - Milvus milvus
  • 33. Black Kite - Milvus migrans
  • 34. Black-winged Kite - Elanus caeruleus
  • 35. Bonelli's Eagle - Hieraaetus fasciatus
  • 36. Booted Eagle - Hieraaetus pennatus
  • 37. Spanish Imperial Eagle - Aquila adalberti
  • 38. Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
  • 39. Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
  • 40. Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
  • 41. Eurasian Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
  • 42. Montagu's Harrier - Circus pygargus
  • 43. Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
  • 44. Eurasian Hobby - Falco subbuteo
  • 45. Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
  • 46. Lesser Kestrel - Falco naumanni
  • 47. Red-legged Partridge - Alectoris rufa
  • 48. Common Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus
  • 49. Common Coot - Fulica atra
  • 50. Red-knobbed Coot - Fulica cristata
  • 51. Purple Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio
  • 52. Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
  • 53. Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
  • 54. Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
  • 55. Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  • 56. Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
  • 57. Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
  • 58. Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
  • 59. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
  • 60. Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 61. Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
  • 62. Dunlin - Calidris alpina
  • 63. Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
  • 64. Little Stint - Calidris minuta
  • 65. Temminck's Stint - Calidris temminckii
  • 66. Red Knot - Calidris canutus
  • 67. Sanderling - Calidris alba
  • 68. Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
  • 69. Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
  • 70. Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
  • 71. Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos
  • 72. Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • 73. Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
  • 74. Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  • 75. Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
  • 76. Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
  • 77. Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
  • 78. Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
  • 79. Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
  • 80. Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
  • 81. Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
  • 82. Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
  • 83. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  • 84. Meditteranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
  • 85. Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii
  • 86. Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
  • 87. Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica
  • 88. Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
  • 89. Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
  • 90. Little Tern - Sterna albifrons
  • 91. Caspian Tern - Sterna caspia
  • 92. Lesser Crested Tern - Sterna bengalensis
  • 93. Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
  • 94. Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybridus
  • 95. Feral Pigeon - Columba livia feral
  • 96. Common Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
  • 97. Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  • 98. European Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
  • 99. Tawny Owl - Strix aluco
  • 100. Common Swift - Apus apus
  • 101. Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus
  • 102. Alpine Swift - Apus melba
  • 103. Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
  • 104. European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
  • 105. Hoopoe - Upupa epops
  • 106. Great Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocopos major
  • 107. Calandra Lark - Melanocorypha calandra
  • 108. Woodlark - Lullula arborea
  • 109. Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
  • 110. Thekla Lark - Galerida theklae
  • 111. Lesser Short-toed Lark - Calandrella rufescens
  • 112. Eurasian Crag Martin - Hirundo rupestris
  • 113. Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
  • 114. Red-rumped Swallow - Hirundo daurica
  • 115. Northern House Martin - Delichon urbica
  • 116. Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
  • 117. Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
  • 118. Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
  • 119. Woodchat Shrike - Lanius senator
  • 120. Southern Grey Shrike - Lanius meridionalis
  • 121. Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • 122. Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
  • 123. Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
  • 124. Melodious Warbler - Hippolais polyglotta
  • 125. Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
  • 126. Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
  • 127. Dartford Warbler - Sylvia undata
  • 128. Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochilus
  • 129. Iberian Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus ibericus
  • 130. Firecrest - Regulus ignicapillus
  • 131. Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata
  • 132. Whinchat - Saxicola rubetra
  • 133. Common Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
  • 134. Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
  • 135. Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
  • 136. Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
  • 137. Common Redstart - Phoenicurus phoenicurus
  • 138. European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
  • 139. Common Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos
  • 140. Blackbird - Turdus merula
  • 141. Crested Tit - Parus cristatus
  • 142. European Blue Tit - Parus caeruleus
  • 143. Coal Tit - Parus ater
  • 144. Great Tit - Parus major
  • 145. Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
  • 146. Winter Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
  • 147. Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
  • 148. Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
  • 149. Azure-winged Magpie - Cyanopica cyana
  • 150. Northern Raven - Corvus corax
  • 151. Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
  • 152. Red-billed Chough - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
  • 153. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
  • 154. Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis
  • 155. Spotless Starling - Sturnus unicolor
  • 156. Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
  • 157. European Serin - Serinus serinus
  • 158. European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
  • 159. European Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris
  • 160. Eurasian Linnet - Carduelis cannabina
  • 161. Common Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra
  • 162. Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes
  • 163. Corn Bunting - Miliaria calandra
  • 164. Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
  • 165. Rock Bunting - Emberiza cia


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