We were all excited and eager to get going as we arrived in El Rocio at the start of our 3 night trip to Coto Doñana – one of Spain’s premier birding and wildlife locations trip. It was a beautiful day and the lake on the edge of town shimmered in the early morning sun. There were numerous Flamingos, Spoonbills and Little Egrets. Glossy Ibis flew overhead and Black Kites and White Storks were everywhere. Squacco Herons and Night Herons appeared and were joined by Cattle Egrets. We walked along the lakeside and spotted Black-winged Stilt and Collared Pratincole. We then walked the short distance to El Palacio reserve. In the first hide we could hear Savis Warbler reeling and some diligent searching eventually found him in the reeds. Booted Eagle and Griffon Vulture were easily spotted in the sky. White Storks seemed to be nesting in every electricity pylon. A stroll through the woods produced Nightingale, Cetti’s Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher, Bee-eater and Azure-winged Magpie.

After a picnic lunch birding was resumed in El Palacio and then El Acebuche. Woodchat and Iberian Grey Shrike were feeding from the top of fence posts. Melodious and Isabelline Warblers were singing, Sardinian Warblers were commonplace. In the reeds we found Common Waxbill,which was a first for some of us. A male Golden Oriole was calling as we wandered around the hides with more eagles and vultures overhead and a single Red Kite. A superb first day. We strolled back to our hotel – Hotel Toruño – for a shower and well earned cold beer then a delicious  evening meal in the hotel restaurant overlooking the lake.

Day 2 was spent entirely in the area around the Josѐ Valverde Visitor Centre – fields, scrubland and plains, lagoons and lakes. We got off to a great start with stunning views of a pair of Montagu’s Harriers quickly followed by Booted and Short-toed Eagles. Black Kites were again numerous with again a single Red Kite. Around a ruined farmhouse was a colony of about 14 Lesser Kestrel. Several of the fields were flooded in preparation for planting and these attracted Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin and Collared Pratincole. There were also lots of Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns and a single Black Tern. We enjoyed great views of Purple Heron, White Stork, Purple Gallinule and Glossy Ibis. In the dry fields were Calandra and Short-toed Larks. Hoopoes and Fan-tailed Warblers were common as was Yellow Wagtail. We enjoyed lunch at the visitor centre along with incredible views of nesting Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis and Purple Gallinule. The afternoon rewarded us with close ups of Short-toed Eagle and more fields full of herons, Glossy Ibis, terns and waders.

Day 3 started in the cork-oak woodlands where Nightingale and Penduline Tit were our first birds followed by Hoopoe and Raven. We then moved into farmland and were rewarded straight away by four Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flying overhead and Lesser Short-toed Lark. All of the great birds of yesterday were present plus Grey Plover and Great White Egret.  We also encountered Ladder Snakes and a huge Wild Boar – and this gave opportunities for some wonderful photographs. Sadly we didn’t find a Lynx – but that is one for next time! We finished the trip a very happy bunch and enjoyed our final night in El Rocio to the full.

Trip report: Fiona and friends, Cabo de Gata. May 2016.

The morning was fine and bright and full of promise as Fiona,Margaret,Martin and David pulled up at our meeting point outside the first hide at Cabo de Gata – after travelling across from Vera. Introductions were made all round then it was on to the business of the day. The Flamingoes out on the lagoons made the first big impression. We counted around 300. Yellow Wagtails were calling and a Spoonbill was on the stone causeway but as is often the way it kept it’s head tucked away,fast asleep most of the time. Several waders were seen including Kentish Plover,Avocet and Black winged Stilt. A group of 4 Knot in brick red summer plumage was a nice surprise. Several Slender-billed Gulls were picking insects off the lagoon surface. We then drove past Cabo de Gata village and parked the cars near the Guardia tower where we had great views of Spotless Starling.

As we were walking to the second hide a stunning male Grey Plover showed well and we added Iberian Grey Shrike to our list. Stone Curlew and Fan-tailed Warbler were heard. More Slender-bills were seen along with Little Tern. At the third hide we found a number of Gull-billed and Sandwich Terns with the rare Audouin’s Gull mixed in plus Sanderling, Redshank and Ringed Plover. Martin was particularly delighted to see the Audouin’s Gulls

Moving on we had coffee and a short break then headed round the back of the lagoons.. Crested and Thekla Larks were present here but sadly our time was coming to an end. Just as we were walking back to the cars two large eagles made a very brief appearance over the mountains but we couldn’t identify them as they only appeared for a second or two. Just time for a photo of a very happy group and to say our goodbyes at the end of a very enjoyable morning.

It’s been a hectic month here at WildAlmeria as we have had the team from our sister company in working on developing and rebranding the website.  We were formerly Almeriaves however with new tours coming on line and a new range of workshop options it was time to add some new features to our online system.  The new system will allow customers to search for tours more easily, and will put a firm foundation in for the future with an online booking system with email confirmation as standard.  We have worked hard to make the new site more user friendly and we have improved the overall look and feel too .. so hopefully you all enjoy the result.

We are still working hard to put in place the new tours but in the meantime you can of course simply call or email if you have any enquiries or want to get any more details.  We will be putting the new site out onto social media shortly where customers will be able to give us some feedback on the site.  A little bit of beta testing is always a good thing with a new site and it’s great to hear customer feedback whilst the team is on site and available to make any necessary changes.

Overall there’s a lot of exciting changes taking place and we can’t wait to meet more of our customers past and present in the coming 12 months.  Don’t hesitate to let us know what you think to the new site and feel free to suggest any changes or alterations which you think would improve things further!