Donana delights

Availability now:

5 days – 17th March – 21st March 2018.

£800 for 5 days – including all accommodation, meals, guiding, transport, entrances and taxes. Excluding flights to Seville.

Deposit £160

Single supplement £80

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.

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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.

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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!

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

Finally we will visit friends managing traditional salt pans in the bay of Cadiz and we will take a specially arranged boat trip into a private reserve where we will get up close and personal with Flamingos, Spoonbills, Gulls and Waders.

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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, low intensity land use, and the respect for Nature which is innate in the local psyche.

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.

The local currency is the Euro.

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 village that overlooks the lagoon, river and marshlands of the Doñana.  Its narrow sandy streets will make it feel like you’ve just walked into a scene from Bonanza!

We will also enter the interior of the park by 4×4 and explore areas normally closed to the public, where, along with a vast array of wetland bird species and Spanish Imperial Eagle, we will keep our fingers crossed for views of the stunning Iberian Lynx.

Finally we will visit friends managing traditional salt pans in the bay of Cadiz and we will take a specially arranged boat trip into a private reserve where we will get up close and personal with gulls waders, Greater Flamingoes and Western Ospreys.

Expected Birds 

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.

Itinerary

Day 1

We 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.

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 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 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 provide 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.

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.