Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter in Spain - Day 6

Tuesday started with a flight to Seville, though we did wave goodbye to a Blue Rock Thrush en route to the airport.

On arrival at Seville we discovered our Car Rental wasn’t all we had thought it would be. The rental company, Goldcar Rentals, charged us 62 Euros for a full tank of fuel (we later refilled 2/3 of the tank for 28.5 Euros), apparently you’re supposed to return the car as empty as you can to get best value from the rental. This is clearly a scam and very close to being an unfair contract term as you don’t find out about the rip-off until you hand-in your pre-paid voucher. They can only get away with it legally by offering a partial refund if your rental is less than 3 days. Beware also their agent, Amigo Autos.

Having argued the toss but ending up paying the scumbags we headed to our first destination in Seville and the one our guidebook (Where to Watch Birds in Southern & Western Spain) recommends as the must do location for the whole region, the area around the Rio Guadalquivir and Brazo del Este. The rough road is in fact an unmade road, with the roughest bit first, we think to discourage people from venturing further as a lot of the surrounding land is farmed, however it is very much worth the effort.

The first birds we encountered in the park having driven up the track toward the birding area, were these Flamingos:

Further along we passed a shepherd, grazing his sheep on the grass of the park, where a Spanish race Yellow Wagtail had found a bug:

And some Cattle Egrets were enjoying the ride:

Our first and only new bird of the day was this Great Reed Warbler, singing atop a reed in the reed-beds alongside the road:

We did also spot a Weaver, but this was an escapee and reported as such once we had the identity confirmed by a local expert. Driving along the track we met-up with a chap called Alfonso Barragan, who it turns out is the co-author of an inventory of birds in the national park. He pointed out another spot he recommended and though he spoke no English and we little Spanish, we used our field guides to describe what we’d seen and he used it to tell us what to look for and where. We missed a Hudsonian Godwit by less than a week! He also very kindly gave us a copy of his report, so time to gen up on the Latin names then.

One of the lagoons held a pair of Squacco Herons, searching together for food:

Together with Spanish Sparrows collecting nesting material:

with attendant Crested Larks, close to the lagoon and in the fields:

Yet another lagoon held a small group of Spoonbill:

When we first spotted a Woodchat Shrike on the Delta del Ebre visit I’d wanted to stop and take a few photographs but Stephen was certain we’d see many more of these birds. It turns out we didn’t around Barcelona but around Sevilla they really are abundant:

As indeed are Corn Buntings, a bird under real pressure in the UK from the recent changes in farming methods, particularly the distinct lack of stubble fields over winter:

On a cable running to a burned out house by the canal a Bee-eater kept a look out for a passing meal:

Having completed our tour of the Brazo del Este we decided to follow Alfonso’s advice and head for the other location he’d pointed out in our ‘Where to’ guide. We got thoroughly confused with the new roads and actually couldn’t locate the spot, so decided to head to the hotel to check-in.

When we got to our hotel we found the booking had been cancelled as the intermediate booking company had ‘pinged’ our credit card, which we’d changed recently having been victim of card fraud; they tried to email us but we were already travelling in Spain. Thankfully the hotel we were booked in (Hotel Bellavista) found us another room locally and accommodated us for the rest of our stay and provided our breakfast for free too. Anyone who goes to that much effort to right a wrong they didn’t cause is worthy of recommendation in my book. When we therefore finally got into our room at the Dona Carmel on the other side of Bellavista and hooked up to their free WiFi we were very disappointed to see the weather forecast for the balance of our stay, which was light rain on the Wednesday, heavy rain on the Thursday and Friday and then sunny on Saturday, the date of our flight home. Bloody typical. On the balance the next day had the least bad forecast, so we resolved to try the Sierra Norte de Sevilla as this would give us some chance at seeing more of the specialised birds we missed out on on the Pyrenees day.

New Species for the day:

Great Reed Warbler

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