Spain (Andalucia and Extremedura), April 7th - 16th 1999

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


by Simon Woolley (click here to contact me)

This is the systematic list for our ten day trip in southern and central Spain earlier this month. We covered most of the best and recognized sites in the region, and saw most of our target species. Our major (but understandable) omissions, not for want of trying, were Marbled Duck, Crested Coot and Red-necked Nightjar, although we were surprised not to see a Tawny Pipit either!

Sites visited : Teba Gorge, Lagunas Dulce, Fuente de Piedra, Utrera and Espera, La Serena, Trujillo, Belen steppe, Monfrague National Park, Coto Donana, east bank of the Guadalquivir. We hope you enjoy browsing through this list - please e-mail us at the address at the foot of the list if you have any comments, or would like any advice re. sites etc.

Species seen:

Little Grebe Remarkably, recorded every day bar one! Most numerous Lagunas Dulce and Espera, with up to 50 at the latter site, but also 22 on a pond near Trujillo bullring, and two on a seasonal puddle on the Belen steppe

Great Crested Grebe About 10 were noted at Laguna Dulce on the earlier visits

Black-necked Grebe A real highlight of the trip was seeing large numbers of Black-necked Grebes in breeding plumage. About 50 were at Laguna Dulce, and possibly twice as many were at Laguna Espera

Northern Gannet Fifteen flew west past Matalascanas

Grey Heron One on the Belen steppe, 6 flying to roost at Tietar Cliffs, Monfrague National Park, and frequently noted in the Coto Donana

Purple Heron Only seen in the Coto Donana, with numerous sightings at various wetlands, including about 5 at La Rocinas

Little Egret Surprisingly infrequent - five near Trujillo, about 10 in the Coto Donana, and then large numbers (50+) on the east bank of the Guadalquivir

Cattle Egret Seen every day but three, but usually in numbers below 25. About 200 on the east bank of the Guadalquivir

Squacco Heron Eight sightings in the Coto Donana area, with most (four together) at La Rocinas

Little Bittern A superb male showed poorly in the reeds, and then well (but all too briefly) in flight at La Rocinas

Black Stork Noted daily in the Monfrague National Park area, with 13 sightings in all. Five soared over the bridge at great height on afternoon, and two nests were located at Penafalcon

White Stork Noted daily from Cordoba onwards, until returning to the Andalucian hills. Often very common, with upwards of 150 a day being seen. Nests were seen almost everywhere, notably in Trujillo town square, where at least a dozen pairs were nesting

Spoonbill Very pleasing numbers seen in the Coto Donana - up to 20 per day, with at least a dozen at La Rocinas

Greater Flamingo Noted at five sites - Laguna Dulce (max. 30), Laguna de Fuente de Piedra (c. 5000?), Coto Donana (c. 1000, mostly from El Rocio bridge), the east bank of the Guadalquivir (10), Laguna de Utrera (c.100)

Greylag Goose Sixteen in the Coto Donana, and one dubious looking partial albino at Laguna Espera

Gadwall Up to 10 at Laguna Dulce, and perhaps 50 noted in the Coto Donana

Common Teal A pair was noted from El Rocio bridge in the Coto Donana on one occasion

Mallard Seen daily, generally in single figures, and often in quite dry areas, but more frequently in the Coto Donana

Northern Shoveler About 10 at Laguna Dulce, and about 20 or so in the Coto Donana

Red-crested Pochard Noted at Laguna Dulce (20+ present), the Coto Donana (up to 30 seen) and Laguna Espera (c.10)

Common Pochard 20+ at Laguna Dulce, about 50 in the Coto Donana, and a few at Laguna Espera too

[Ferruginous Duck] [Two males were seen from the Acebuche visitors' centre hides in the Coto Donana, but since the species is the subject of a reintroduction programme, it would be unwise to assume wild provenance]

White-headed Duck It was excellent to see so many individuals of this globally threatened species. At least 21 (6 males) were at Laguna Dulce, and two males and a female were also at Laguna Espera

Black-shouldered Kite Two performed magically over the dehesa surrounding Estacion de Bazagona, just outside the Monfrague National Park

Black Kite Very scarce in the extreme south of Andalucia, but from about Teba northwards, very common, with probably over 50 per day

Red Kite A total of 22 sightings was logged, with all records coming from the area around Trujillo, notably the Belen steppe and Monfrague National Park

Black (Monk) Vulture Very impressively, 18 sightings were logged, all but two in Monfrague National Park. These included a pair on their nesting tree, and several at very low altitude. Away from the Park, one grazed Trujillo castle, and another was seen over the steppe to the south of the town

Griffon Vulture Noted on all days bar two, generally in small numbers, except for the area around Monfrague National Park, where upwards of 100 were seen each day, including many at the nest

Egyptian Vulture Only seen in Monfrague National Park - about 18 sightings noted

Short-toed Eagle Two at Belen steppe, including one perched at close range on a pylon, and at least 7 sightings in Monfrague National Park

Montagu's Harrier Twelve were noted, most at La Serena and Belen steppe, but with odd individuals seen from the car elsewhere. A disappointingly low figure, made up for by stunning close range views

Marsh Harrier A female at Laguna Dulce, a male in the Coto del Rey (Coto Donana), and 4 on the east bank of the Guadalquivir

Sparrowhawk Singles were noted on two occasions

Buzzard Sixteen were noted at widely scattered localities

Spanish Imperial Eagle A total of between six and eight birds was noted in Monfrague National Park (though some further duplication is possible), including two adults at a nest site. Another (or the same?) two adults were watched displaying and calling over Tietar cliffs

Golden Eagle A first-year bird low beside the road at dusk at La Serena was followed the next day by two being mobbed by two Red Kites at Belen steppe, the ensuing dogfight flushing a dozen White Storks and five Great Bustards!

Bonelli's Eagle A fantastic finish to the trip was provided by the discovery of two adults displaying and nest building on cliffs alongside the Ronda-Teba road

Booted Eagle Thirteen were noted, nine of them pale phase, at widely scattered localities, with most in the Coto Donana, including several displaying at very low altitude over Acebuche hides and La Rocinas

Lesser Kestrel Noted on all days but three, with the highest numbers around Trujillo, where up to 100 could be seen circling around the roofs of the old town

Common Kestrel Noted daily, generally in small numbers. Often inseparable from the former species at a distance or from a moving car

Eurasian Hobby One flew fast over El Rocio bridge, Coto Donana

Peregrine Falcon Two were seen at Penafalcon, Monfrague National Park

Red-legged Partridge Twenty four noted, with most in Monfrague National Park and in the rolling farmlands of central Andalucia

Common Quail Up to four heard calling at Belen steppe

Water Rail One seen very briefly, disappearing into the reeds, and another heard calling at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Little Crake A male performed fantastically well at the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana, wading about on floating reeds and sedges just a few yards from the observation window, and showing continuously for at least half an hour

Spotted Crake One was seen very briefly in flight from one of the hides at Acebuche, Coto Donana

Common Moorhen Noted at most wetland sites, with most Laguna Dulce. Also very common in the Coto Donana

Purple Swamp-hen Up to 20 in the Coto Donana, 2 on the east bank of the Guadalquivir, and 2 at Laguna Espera

Common Coot Abundant where present - Laguna Dulce (500+), El Rocio (800+), Laguna Utrera (300+) and Laguna Espera (100+). Those within range were checked carefully for Crested Coot, but no luck this time....

Little Bustard Noted daily in the vicinity of La Serena and Trujillo, notably at Belen steppe, with 40+ on one occasion. Most of those seen (by some considerable margin) were males

Great Bustard Noted on each visit to Belen steppe, with a fantastic 35 on one occasion. Many males displaying, though sadly not very close to the road or tracks

Black-winged Stilt Noted on each day bar one, with many at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, a surprising 19 at a pond by Trujillo bullring, probably hundreds in the Coto Donana, and 15 on the beach near Malaga

Pied Avocet Noted only in the Coto Donana, where flocks of over 150 birds were seen

Stone Curlew Following a call only record at Belen steppe one evening, two showed brilliantly there the next day, and two more were located rather more distantly. Also one heard at night near El Acebron, Coto Donana

Collared Pratincole Very common in the Coto Donana, with large flocks of over 500 birds hawking the marshes not uncommon

Northern Lapwing Up to five at Laguna Dulce, and perhaps 30 noted in the Coto Donana

Ringed Plover Scores noted at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Little Ringed Plover Perhaps 50 present at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Kentish Plover Five noted at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Black-tailed Godwit Commonly seen in the Coto Donana, notably at El Rocio, where flocks of about 30 were present

Whimbrel Six flew west past Matalascanas during a brief seawatch

Spotted Redshank Two were recorded at the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana

Common Redshank Commonly noted in the Coto Donana

Common Greenshank Just one seen, at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Green Sandpiper Again, only one seen, in a drainage ditch near the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana

Wood Sandpiper About a dozen seen on each visit to the El Rocio marshes, Coto Donana

Common Sandpiper Nine noted, mostly in the Coto Donana, but also at Teba Gorge

Common Snipe Four in the Coto Donana, and one at Laguna Espera

Little Stint 500+ present at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Dunlin Probably over 1000 were present at El Rocio, Coto Donana

Ruff About 25 were at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, one was at the pond near Trujillo bullring, and then very common (50+ daily) in the Coto Donana

Great Skua A pleasing bonus was the discovery of three making their way west out of the Mediterranean at Matalascanas

Yellow-legged Gull Only noted at Malaga, where several dozen coasted along the beach

Black-headed Gull Surprisingly scarce. Seven noted at Laguna Dulce, five at the east bank of the Guadalquivir, and one past Malaga

Whiskered Tern Up to four at Laguna Dulce, 2 or 3 at El Rocio and La Rocinas, Coto Donana, and about 30 at the east bank of the Guadalquivir

Gull-billed Tern About 20 at and near Laguna Dulce, 25 at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra, up to six in the Coto Donana, and 50+ at the east bank of the Guadalquivir

Sandwich Tern Ten flew west past Matalascanas during the brief evening seawatch

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Eighteen were seen, and others were heard, at La Serena, all in flight

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Two pairs were seen at La Serena

Rock Pigeon Many apparently pure birds at montane sites like Ronda and Teba Gorges, but many obviously impure birds were also there, as well as elsewhere

Common Wood Pigeon About 20 noted at widely scattered localities

European Turtle Dove Two separate individuals seen one evening in the Coto Donana

Collared Dove A single seen near the village of Fuente de Piedra looked liked being a major trip list blocker, until another flew past the airport terminal at Malaga!

Monk Parakeet Two flew over calling at the car hire depot in Malaga, and another two parakeets, probably of this species, were seen from the car near Seville

Great Spotted Cuckoo Three, at least one of them a first summer bird, performed brilliantly, feeding actively from fenceposts, in the early morning at Belen steppe

Common Cuckoo Fourteen noted, mostly heard only

Eagle Owl A serious contender for bird of the trip, a stunning Eagle Owl emerged from Tietar Cliffs at 9.10pm during our evening stake-out, perched in full view on the rocks for a few minutes, and then flew off to perch silhouetted on a tree against the sky for a further four minutes or so, before vanishing off over the ridge. A dream fulfilled!

Tawny Owl Heard on two occasions near La Rocinas, Coto Donana, once in broad daylight, and one seen briefly on a post in the car headlights there while we listened for Nightjars

Little Owl One at La Serena, and a further three at Belen steppe

European Nightjar One heard singing at night near La Rocinas, Coto Donana. Despite three attempts at known sites, no sign whatsoever could be found of Red-necked Nightjar. A combination of early season and wind probably accounted for the failure

Alpine Swift Quite frequently noted, but in big numbers at only two sites, Teba Gorge (evening much better than midday - c.500 screaming around the canyon walls) and Monfrague National Park, notably around the bridge

Pallid Swift Several hundred seen, but only firmly identified in the south of Andalucia, notably at Teba and Laguna Dulce

Common Swift Seen daily, and generally abundant

European Bee-eater Seen daily, but numbers varied considerably - max. 50+ around Monfrague National Park and Trujillo, min. just 2 on 3 days

Hoopoe Seen every day bar the last - generally about 10 per day, but as few as 1 or 2 on some days

Great Spotted Woodpecker One heard drumming in Monfrague National Park, and two seen there the next day, and one drumming at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Calandra Lark Common and very conspicuous at three sites - La Serena, Belen steppe and surrounding areas and the dry areas of the Coto Donana. Also a few seen in other agricultural areas

Greater Short-toed Lark Two in La Serena, and perhaps over 100 in the dry fields near the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana

Lesser Short-toed Lark At least 5 seen well in the same area as the previous species in the Coto Donana

Crested Lark Very common in all areas - seen daily

Thekla Lark Notably scarcer than the previous species, but still positively identified on five dates - doubtless others were seen but recorded as Galerida sp. Most seen in sites such as Monfrague National Park and the Belen steppe

Wood Lark Two at La Serena, and a total of 7 in Monfrague National Park

Sky Lark Noted on three days only, but doubtless others overlooked

Sand Martin Only seen on two occasions - 20 at the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana, and 10 at Laguna Dulce two days later

Eurasian Crag Martin Noted every day but two, and most common, as expected, in rocky or hilly areas, notably Teba Gorge and Monfrague National Park, where 50+ seen on one date

Barn Swallow Common and widespread - seen daily

Red-rumped Swallow Seen on six days, with large numbers around Monfrague National Park and Trujillo. Sadly, one flock's habit of settling on the road means there is one fewer Red-rumped Swallow in Spain this spring....

House Martin Common and widespread - seen daily

Yellow Wagtail Common in the Coto Donana (c.60 seen), and a very few elsewhere in the south. All those positively identified were of the race iberiae

Grey Wagtail At least 2 at Teba Gorge, 1 at Tietar Cliffs, Monfrague National Park, and 1 at Ronda Gorge

White Wagtail A total of seven noted on four days, mostly around Trujillo and Monfrague National Park

Meadow Pipit Three at La Serena and 3 more at Belen steppe

Southern Grey Shrike Seventeen noted in all, mostly as singles per day, but 10 were seen at La Serena

Woodchat Shrike Seen every day bar one, but very scarce in lowland and southern Andalucia. In contrast, very common around Monfrague National Park, with at least ten seen daily

Wren Only seven noted, and probably some repetition involved. Present at Teba Gorge and La Rocinas, Coto Donana

European Robin Only heard once, two singing at Monfrague National Park

Common Nightingale Heard daily, generally in low numbers early on (10 after five days), but then very commonly heard and seen in the Coto Donana (max. 30+ in a day)

Black Redstart An interesting singing male at Teba castle appeared to be a first summer bird, being largely dusky grey without any white wing panel. In addition, 3 further singing males seen

Common Redstart A male was seen at a roadside stop near Cordoba

Whinchat Two at La Serena and one at Belen steppe

Common Stonechat Seen daily - a common and widespread roadside bird. Several pairs were seen feeding well gown fledged young

Black Wheatear Six at Teba castle, one near the bridge at Monfrague National Park, and one near the Bonelli's Eagle site near Teba

Northern Wheatear Eleven noted on four dates

Black-eared Wheatear Four in La Serena, five males and a female near Espera, and a male near Teba

Blue Rock Thrush Noted quite frequently - 12 records noted, all but two of males, usually singing. Most frequent at Teba Gorge and in Monfrague National Park

Common Blackbird Up to five noted every day

Mistle Thrush Three seen and another heard, all in the vicinity of Trujillo and Monfrague National Park

Cetti's Warbler About 30 heard singing throughout (but most common in the Coto Donana) - good views only had at Teba Gorge, where the suitable habitat was limited to about three square metres of reed and scrub

Common Grasshopper Warbler One heard reeling at Acebuche visitors' centre, Coto Donana

Savi's Warbler Up to a dozen heard in the Coto Donana, and 3 seen, including a splendid male singing from an exposed reed stem at only a few yards range at La Rocinas

Sedge Warbler Two heard at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Eurasian Reed Warbler One at Laguna Dulce, and a further six or so in the Coto Donana

Great Reed Warbler Three heard (only one seen) in the Coto Donana, and another heard at Laguna Dulce

Melodious Warbler One singing (seen briefly) at La Rocinas, Coto Donana, and another seen well on the wire fence by the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, also Coto Donana

Zitting Cisticola Eleven singing males noted at a variety of dampish sites

Willow Warbler Seven noted on five days

Chiffchaff sp. One seen (but not heard) at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Blackcap Eleven noted on five days

Common Whitethroat A male by the roadside near Utrera completed the Sylvia grand slam

Sardinian Warbler Frequently heard and often seen - only missed on three days. Particularly common around Monfrague National Park

Subalpine Warbler A total of fifteen seen at Monfrague National Park, mostly singing males. The birds seem very partial to Cistus scrub covered hillsides

Spectacled Warbler Three, two of them singing males, were located in very dry scrub near the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana

Dartford Warbler Two singing males were seen - one in Monfrague National Park, and the other at Acebuche visitors' centre, Coto Donana

Pied Flycatcher A male near the Cerrado Garrigo Centre, Coto Donana, and another at Torre la Higuera campsite, near Matalascanas

Long-tailed Tit Thirteen noted on four dates

Great Tit Seen daily, but rarely in double figures

Blue Tit Seen less frequently, but in similar numbers to the previous species

European Nuthatch One in roadside trees near Cordoba

Short-toed Treecreeper Singles noted by the Tajo river, Monfrague National Park, and singing at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Corn Bunting One of the delights of this trip was the sheer abundance of Corn Buntings, which seemed to be singing whenever and wherever the car was stopped. Almost incredibly common, especially at La Serena and Belen steppe

Rock Bunting About 9 seen in Monfrague National Park, and a further pair at Ronda Gorge

Ortolan Bunting Two males at Laguna Espera

Common Chaffinch Noted on seven days, and where it occurred, common

European Serin Seen daily - very common and conspicuous

European Greenfinch About 20 noted on six days

European Goldfinch Very common and widespread - many large flocks seen

Common Linnet Noted most days in single figures

Hawfinch Two in almond trees at Ronda Gorge

House Sparrow Very abundant indeed

Spanish Sparrow About 50 at La Serena, and similar numbers at Belen steppe

Tree Sparrow At least three noted at La Rocinas, Coto Donana

Rock Sparrow About 8 at Teba castle, and four more at Ronda Gorge

Spotless Starling Ubiquitous

Eurasian Jay A total of 22 seen in Monfrague National Park, including the remarkable sight of a loose flock of 13 birds moving across a wooded valley together about an hour after dawn

Azure-winged Magpie Seen daily from just north of Cordoba to the Coto Donana. Often common, and frequently quite tame

Black-billed Magpie Noted every day but one, but generally in single figures

Red-billed Chough About 50 at Teba Gorge and castle, and upwards of 100 at Ronda Gorge

Eurasian Jackdaw Seen every day but one - often very common

Carrion Crow Two at the roadside south of Trujillo, and 2 near Zafra

Common Raven Thirteen noted on six days

171 species recorded