No rain in Spain – 10,000 Birds

My aunt Greet gave me a ebook in 1975 that featured the 60 maximum endangered birds in Europe. Amazingly and relatively opposite to what you might imagine from the gloomy information these kind of birds have since recovered and are doing smartly. Europe misplaced the Buttonquail (however ample in Africa) however the Griffon, Cinereous Vulture (José Leal’s image underneath) and several other eagles are creating a impressive comeback. Barnacle Ducks even made it to “agricultural pest” standing.

Within the ebook, one image stood out particularly: the White-headed Duck. The image used to be now not even in center of attention, like a UFO sighting! There have been only some dozen of those geese left and the photographer – the use of out of date analog movie – took only one, very fuzzy shot. For loss of higher photos that used to be the one who were given used within the ebook (out of print – ISBN 90 274 8348 5). Even so, the speculation of sooner or later going out to seek out this uncommon duck appealed to me.

Lifestyles were given in the best way and not anything took place till smartly into the following century once I had to do a venture for a consumer in Spain. Southern Spain has been affected by a long-term drought for a couple of years already. My consumer has a wholesome watersheds technique and I used to be going to Sevilla and Jaen for the primary steps of this system. Water safety isn’t simple. Living proof: the Spanish populists would sacrifice Doñana Nationwide Park to supply extra water to strawberry farms. On the similar time, they need to forestall seasonal migration from Morocco, wanted to pick out those exact same strawberries 3 months later. The science-based method that recognises the dilemmas and identifies the exhausting alternatives isn’t election subject material, I assume. Anyway, the paintings would take me to Andalucia – top White-headed Duck nation. Time to search for that UFO myself. I used to be occurring a quest for a unmarried species – one thing I most often simply don’t do. I ready with Ernest Garcia’s “The place to observe birds in Southern & Western Spain” and deliberate my detours.

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I stayed with regards to the customer’s amenities within the small the city of Los Palacios y Villafranca. Town is down the street from the Brazo del Este – geographically a department of the Guadalquivir and ecologically part of the Doñana Nationwide Park. It’s now not formally throughout the Nationwide Park, however get admission to is more straightforward and the species tally isn’t too shabby, in no way. Amongst others, I noticed a Spanish Imperial Eagle, ample Western Swamphen, Not unusual Snipe and each Noticed Redshank and Not unusual Redshank. There have been additionally a few Italian nudists, which by no means combines smartly with a bloke with high-power binoculars. However they had been in entrance of a Western Subalpine Warbler so… Beautiful hen.

Brazo del Este is really easy to get to, even previous to going out to paintings, so I visited two times all the way through my keep in the native lodge. From town take the SE-9020 heading west, then southwest after Los Chapatales against the agreement of Pinzón. Proceed at the gravel highway SE-9009 / SE-685. There will probably be huge eucalypts and a canal to your proper. After any other few kilometres you’re going to flip an overly sharp proper simply after the rice mill, move the canal and get started your birding at the SE-659 (37° 4’53.84″N, 6° 2’20.57″W). Practice this highway north and forestall at all of the ponds, stroll across the fields and revel in a super day of birding.

You’ll be able to flip proper on the irrigation station (37° 8’51.77″N,  6° 2’9.14″W) and power at the northern aspect of the irrigation channel again to Los Chapatales. You’ll be able to additionally proceed additional alongside the Brazo del Este. Should you’re now not on trade than realise there’s much more puts to consult with on this area. Purchase the ebook and take every week!

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For all that’s excellent concerning the Spanish other folks they do have some disturbing conduct, particularly relating to their day by day routines. It is very important plan your birding day round those routines. For starters, your room must be clear of the road up to conceivable for the reason that day by day birthday celebration will cross on into the wee hours. 2nd, don’t rely on breakfast since they generally tend to serve from 8:00 hrs, well beyond your departure for the birding grounds. Dinner has a tendency to be very past due with the kitchen opening at 21:00 hrs if you happen to’re fortunate. Lunch is generally at an inexpensive time, so my resolution is to shop for fruit and beverages to hide breakfast and opt for an elaborate lunch. Knife and fork, glass of wine and a sleep afterwards. That’s OK – it is going to be too sizzling for birding. Then do extra birding, have tapas and a lager and switch in for an early evening. The tapas on the lodge had been wonderful: the cured ham used to be heavenly scrumptious, and the costs had been devilishly low. I truly appreciated my technique and used to be deservedly pleased with myself for figuring it out.

The duck did elude me – and to be truthful, this isn’t the most efficient spot anyway. Brazo del Este used to be simply a very good alternative: with regards to the venture location and too excellent to pass over. Alternatively, I wasn’t executed but and with Ernest Garcia’s steering, I did really feel very assured to look the duck in other places. Since I had to commute to Jaen for the second one a part of my venture I deliberate for 2 stops alongside the best way: Lagunas de L. a. Lantejuela and Laguna de Zóñar.

Laguna del Gobierno is a really nice instance of turning a legal responsibility into an asset. The within reach the city L. a. Lantejuela’s sewage receives complex remedy, and the effluent is discharged into the laguna. This pond could be my first forestall. I adopted my GPS to get to the laguna and were given misplaced, so very best apply the directions from the ebook. The realm has been advanced like a fairground with multi-coloured partitions and structures, swings, picnic spots and such. The highest birders for this hotspot have observed with regards to 100 species. Possibly it used to be as a result of fiesta, possibly as a result of siesta, however the whole thing used to be closed close. In spite of all of the indicators announcing they had been open for trade… Thankfully, the encircling wall used to be low, and a useful bench aided by means of my 1 meter 92 frame lifted my eyes excessive sufficient to peek over the wall instantly into the eyes of a male White-headed Duck. That used to be simple!

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From the wall, my view used to be restricted however the birdlife on this pond is ample. Larger Flamingo, each Black-necked Grebe and Little Grebe, or even some Lesser Kestrel within the surrounding fields. After all, the entire detour and consult with had taken longer than expected and I nonetheless had to get to Jaen in time. I had my quarry, and so I determined to move east and skip the remainder of my deliberate program. Fresh checklists for Laguna de Zóñar don’t record White-headed Duck in order that can have been the correct name.

The a hit seek for the duck has impressed me. And when my brother purchased a area close to Valencia, the objective for the following quest used to be transparent: Moustached Warbler. And that’s a excellent out of date cliff-hanger – watch this area for extra!


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