No rain in Spain – 10,000 Birds

My aunt Greet gave me a ebook in 1975 that featured the 60 most endangered birds in Europe. Amazingly and fairly opposite to what you’d consider from the gloomy information most of those birds have since recovered and are doing nicely. Europe misplaced the Buttonquail (however ample in Africa) however the Griffon, Cinereous Vulture (José Leal’s image under) and several other eagles are making a spectacular comeback. Barnacle Geese even made it to “agricultural pest” standing.

Within the ebook, one image stood out specifically: the White-headed Duck. The image was not even in focus, like a UFO sighting! There have been just a few dozen of those geese left and the photographer – utilizing old school analog movie – took only one, very fuzzy shot. For lack of higher footage that was the one which bought used within the ebook (out of print – ISBN 90 274 8348 5). Even so, the concept of sooner or later going out to search out this uncommon duck appealed to me.

Life bought in the way in which and nothing occurred till nicely into the subsequent century once I wanted to do a mission for a shopper in Spain. Southern Spain has been affected by a long-term drought for a couple of years already. My shopper 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 wish to cease seasonal migration from Morocco, wanted to choose these exact same strawberries 3 months later. The science-based strategy that recognises the dilemmas and identifies the laborious decisions isn’t election materials, I suppose. Anyway, the work would take me to Andalucia – prime White-headed Duck nation. Time to search for that UFO myself. I used to be happening a quest for a single species – one thing I usually simply don’t do. I ready with Ernest Garcia’s “The place to observe birds in Southern & Western Spain” and deliberate my detours.

I stayed near the shopper’s services within the small city of Los Palacios y Villafranca. The city is down the highway from the Brazo del Este – geographically a department of the Guadalquivir and ecologically part of the Doñana Nationwide Park. It’s not formally contained in the Nationwide Park, however entry is less complicated and the species tally isn’t too shabby, by no means. Amongst others, I noticed a Spanish Imperial Eagle, ample Western Swamphen, Widespread Snipe and each Noticed Redshank and Widespread Redshank. There have been additionally a few Italian nudists, which by no means combines nicely with a bloke with high-power binoculars. However they have been in entrance of a Western Subalpine Warbler so… Pretty chicken.

Brazo del Este may be very simple to get to, even previous to going out to work, so I visited twice throughout my keep in the native lodge. From the city take the SE-9020 heading west, then southwest after Los Chapatales in direction of the settlement of Pinzón. Proceed on the gravel highway SE-9009 / SE-685. There shall be massive eucalypts and a canal in your proper. After one other few kilometres you’ll flip a really sharp proper simply after the rice mill, cross the canal and begin your birding on the SE-659 (37° 4’53.84″N, 6° 2’20.57″W). Observe this highway north and cease in any respect the ponds, stroll across the fields and revel in an ideal day of birding.

You possibly can flip proper on the irrigation station (37° 8’51.77″N,  6° 2’9.14″W) and drive on the northern facet of the irrigation channel again to Los Chapatales. You can even proceed additional alongside the Brazo del Este. When you’re not on enterprise than realise there’s much more locations to go to on this area. Purchase the ebook and take every week!

For all that’s good in regards to the Spanish individuals they do have some annoying habits, particularly regarding their each day routines. You’ll need to plan your birding day round these routines. For starters, your room needs to be away from the road as a lot as attainable as a result of the each day social gathering will go on into the wee hours. Second, don’t depend on breakfast since they have a tendency to serve from 8:00 hrs, nicely previous your departure for the birding grounds. Dinner tends to be very late with the kitchen opening at 21:00 hrs in case you’re fortunate. Lunch is normally at an inexpensive time, so my answer is to purchase fruit and drinks to cowl breakfast and go for an elaborate lunch. Knife and fork, glass of wine and a nap afterwards. That’s OK – it will likely be too scorching for birding. Then do extra birding, have tapas and a beer and switch in for an early night time. The tapas on the lodge have been superb: the cured ham was heavenly scrumptious, and the costs have been devilishly low. I actually preferred my technique and was deservedly pleased with myself for figuring it out.

The duck did elude me – and to be trustworthy, this isn’t one of the best spot anyway. Brazo del Este was simply a wonderful alternative: near the mission location and too good to overlook. Nonetheless, I wasn’t finished but and with Ernest Garcia’s steerage, I did really feel very assured to see the duck elsewhere. Since I wanted to journey to Jaen for the second a part of my mission I deliberate for 2 stops alongside the way in which: Lagunas de La Lantejuela and Laguna de Zóñar.

Laguna del Gobierno is a really good instance of turning a legal responsibility into an asset. The close by city La Lantejuela’s sewage receives superior remedy, and the effluent is discharged into the laguna. This pond can be my first cease. I adopted my GPS to get to the laguna and bought misplaced, so greatest comply with the directions from the ebook. The realm has been developed like a fairground with multi-coloured partitions and buildings, swings, picnic spots and such. The highest birders for this hotspot have seen near 100 species. Perhaps it was due to fiesta, perhaps due to siesta, however all the things was closed shut. Regardless of all of the indicators saying they have been open for enterprise… Luckily, the encircling wall was low, and a useful bench aided by my 1 meter 92 physique lifted my eyes excessive sufficient to peek over the wall straight into the eyes of a male White-headed Duck. That was simple!

From the wall, my view was restricted however the birdlife on this pond is ample. Larger Flamingo, each Black-necked Grebe and Little Grebe, and even some Lesser Kestrel within the surrounding fields. After all, the entire detour and go to had taken longer than anticipated and I nonetheless wanted to get to Jaen in time. I had my quarry, and so I made a decision to move east and skip the remainder of my deliberate program. Current checklists for Laguna de Zóñar don’t checklist White-headed Duck so that will have been the proper name.

The profitable seek for the duck has impressed me. And when my brother purchased a home close to Valencia, the goal for the subsequent quest was clear: Moustached Warbler. And that’s old school cliff-hanger – watch this house for extra!


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