For 5 days experience 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. This tour will take you to explore these habitats – including the normally inaccessible reaches of the park – from our base in El Rocío, a lovely village with sandy streets that overlooks the lagoon, river and marshlands of the Doñana.
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 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.
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 Little Bittern and the beautiful Marbled Duck. At this time of year, migrants 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 fish ponds 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. 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 Flamingos, as well as Caspian and the first returning Gull-billed 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 or maybe even Marsh Sandpiper or Temminck’s Stint. 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 and early returning migrant warblers and perhaps European Bee-eaters. 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. Both species of the kite are common as are Booted Eagles and Common Buzzard. The soaring flocks of Griffon Vultures are often joined by Short-toed Eagles, 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. We’ll also spend a day with friends at Salarte who manage and encourage traditional salt extraction which provides a variety of conditions for migratory waders, gulls and terns. Taking a boat trip to this area will give us the best opportunity for close and spectacular views of these and a variety of star species such as Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo and Western Osprey.
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.
Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbills, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Western Osprey, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Purple Swamphen, White Storks, Lesser and Greater Short-toed Lark, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns.
What is included?
- Price includes all accommodation, meals, guiding, transportation, taxes and entrances but excludes flights.
What is not included?
- Items of a personal nature
We love birds and wildlife! But even more than that we love making sure you see it, experience it and have a fantastic time to boot. Between us we have a vast experience in nature conservation, ecology, tour leading and the hospitality industry, and we’ll use it to bring you fantastic wildlife spectacles alongside chilled-out birding and local culture and food. All our team fulfil these criteria: - Are professional naturalists with expertise and training in their speciality fields. - Demonstrate active conservation work both through tours and independently. - Have a proven track record of inspiring a love of the natural world through all generations. - Great no fuss problem-solvers where required, and always ensure the enjoyment and safety of our groups. - Have an exceptional background in the country they are leading in. - Are fully insured and compliant with the Travel and Tour regulations. - Patient, always helpful and inspiring teachers.