Birding trip to El Rocio, Spain

It’s April and time for the annual birding trip with Dave, Stephen and Trevor, 3 friends. This year my personal tour operator ( Sandra ) suggested El Rocio in Southern Spain.

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I had a couple of birds on my wish list, Penduline Tit and Dartford Warbler. Penduline Tit as it would be a new lifer and Dartford Warbler in the hope of getting a decent photograph of one.

The plan was to go out with a guide the 1st day and then return to any area that was particularly good the next day.

Dave had arranged a guide who arrived at 07:30 the 1st morning and after a coffee and introductions, we set off.



After a drive of about 1/2 hour we stopped at the side of the road with some nearby lagoons. The light had just started getting better but there was a very bad mist which made it very difficult to see anything. Photography was a waste of time but we still tried. We did manage to see Cetti’s Warbler, Flamingoes, and Zitting Cisticola but only briefly and through the mist.

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Cetti's Warbler, Cettia cetti

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1000 s. f/4 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM



The mist did provide some opportunities to photograph spider’s webs

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Spider's Web

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/4.5 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

Moving along the road we came to a Black-crowned Night-Heron roost.

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Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/2000 s. f/4.5 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

Further along we parked off the road and looked at another lagoon. It’s supposed to be a good place to see White-headed Ducks, but not today. We did manage to see Marbled Teal and Ferruginous Duck which was a bonus and two new lifers. The mist still wasn’t clearing so our guide decided to try somewhere else.

We travelled the back roads and stopped at various places and saw a variety of different species, including Penduline Tit, until lunch time. We then stopped at the side of a lake with stands of reeds, which hosted Great Reed Warblers, Savi’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Little Bittern amongst others. Also flying over were Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern and Gull-billed Tern.

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Sedge Warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/640 s. f/5 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

We decided to head back to El Rocio and go to the National Park nearby to look for Dartford Warblers. Stopping several times to look at and photograph Cuckoo, Lesser Kestrel, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Purple Heron, Black-eared Wheatear, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, White Stork, Spotless Starling, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, and Temminck’s Stint.

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Lesser Kestrel, Falco naumanni

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/5 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/5 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/5000 s. f/5 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Black-eared Wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/5 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/7.1 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

As it was still light when we returned we took a walk to the lagoon at the edge of El Rocio and took some photos of the Flamingos, although the sun was directly in front and didn’t give very good shots.

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Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/7.1 iso200 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1600 s. f/7.1 iso200 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

The following day we were supposed to go to where we’d seen the Marbled Teal and Ferruginous Duck but we never manage to find the spot again. We did manage to find the Penduline Tit again which was good.

We gave up and returned to look for Dartford Warblers and to walk along the boardwalks near to El Rocio. The boardwalks took you into some woods which were alive with birds and bird song. Here we saw a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which was a bogie bird for Trevor so he was extremely pleased. Another boardwalk took you near to the river and here there were Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, and Little Grebe

Here are a few of the shots taken plus some of El Rocio, which was well worth the visit. A great trip, and although the photography wasn’t as good as I hoped, we did manage to see 98 different species of bird. Here’s a list of the birds we did see.

Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Black-crowned Night-heron, Woodchat Shrike, Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat, White Stork, Spanish Sparrow, Crested Lark, Cetti Warbler, Ferruginous Duck, Marbled Teal, Spotless Starling, Corn Bunting, Penduline Tit, Marsh Harrier, Northern Wheatear, Flamingo, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, House Martin, Blackbird, Black-winged Kite, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Snipe, Mallard, Magpie, Raven, Black Kite, Kestrel, Goldfinch, Great Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Purple Swamphen, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greenshank, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Lesser Kestrel, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtail, Spectacled Warbler, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Greater Reed Warbler, Gull-billed Tern, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard,. Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Short-toed Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Little Bittern, Whinchat, Whiskered Tern, Savi’s Warbler, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Booted Eagle, European Bee-eater, Collared dove, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Crested Lark, Short toed Lark, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Azure-winged Magpie, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Short-toed Treecreeper, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Greylag Goose, Wren, Black-crowned Yellow Weaver, Shoveler, Buzzard, Cormorant, Willow Warbler, Nightingale, Common Swift, Griffin Vulture, Bittern, Sedge Warbler, Sand Martin

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Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/640 s. f/8 iso400 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Red-crested Pochard, Netta rufina

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1000 s. f/6.3 iso200 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Dartford Warbler, Sylvia undata

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/6.3 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/5000 s. f/4.5 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/690 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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The Hermitage of El Rocío

VTR-L09 1/20 s. f/2.2 iso640 n.a.

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The Hermitage of El Rocío

VTR-L09 1/25 s. f/2.2 iso500 n.a.

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El Rocio at night

VTR-L09 1/17 s. f/2.2 iso800 n.a.

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El Rocio at night

VTR-L09 1/4 s. f/2.2 iso1250 n.a.

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Early morning mist

VTR-L09 1/320 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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David, Trevor, Stephen and our guide

VTR-L09 1/2200 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Roadside flowers

VTR-L09 1/1000 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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A long road with birds somewhere!

VTR-L09 1/1200 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Charco del a Boca

VTR-L09 1/1900 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/1050 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/1200 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/1000 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/390 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Palacio del Acebrón

VTR-L09 1/380 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Boardwalk near to El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/1400 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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El Rocio across the Charco del a Boca

VTR-L09 1/1000 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Hotel Palacio Doñana entrance

VTR-L09 1/200 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Hotel Palacio Doñana central courtyard

VTR-L09 1/1400 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Hotel Palacio Doñana central courtyard

VTR-L09 1/1050 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Hotel Palacio Doñana central courtyard

VTR-L09 1/320 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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An El Rocio Street

VTR-L09 1/1500 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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The Hermitage of El Rocío

VTR-L09 1/2000 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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An evening drink in El Rocio

VTR-L09 1/4 s. f/2.2 iso1250 n.a.

© 2003-2019 Kevin B Agar

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