Julie and I spent a day with a private guide exploring the natural beauty of Doñana Natural Park, nestled between Cádiz and Sevilla in southern Spain.

Julie and our guide Victor finding birds Julie and our guide Victor finding birds

I booked through Wild Doñana, though our guide Victor was from the Birding Tarifa organization (Victor). We had a hard time pulling this tour together. On our original scheduled day, the farmers were again protesting and blocking all the roads in and out of Sevilla. Our tour operator had advance warning so we rescheduled to Sunday. What nobody realized was that the Sevilla Marathon was Sunday, creating more challenging. We finally put together a longer walk, to meet up with an Uber, who took us outside the beltway to a shopping center to meet Victor. Then we were on our way.

A white stork couple in their nest A white stork couple in their nest

Victor was incredibly knowledgeable and put together an amazing tour. We started near the entrance to the park by focusing on the nesting white storks. They were ubiquitous, and near the parking area some of the nests were low enough that you could almost see into them. While the storks didn’t seem afraid of us, they would scurry if we got too close. Lots of mating rituals going on right now.

From there we wandered down to a lake where we started seeing the amazing plethora of birds in the area. On first glance it looked like maybe 3 or 4 species on the water, but quickly (and with the help of our binocs and spotting scope) the truth became clear: there were probably over 25 species in view. The usual diversity of water fowl, but so many shorebirds including some avocets swimming as a group in the middle of the lake (unusual) and spoonbills on the far shore intermingling with egrets.

It was here that we saw the two most common raptors we would see throughout the day, the red and black kites. Later on we would see two different types of peregrine falcon, and in the marshy canal areas the marsh harrier became prominent. We had a great sighting of the harrier being harassed by two magpies in a tree; we think the harrier was getting too close to their nest.

Here’s a partial list of the birds we spotted. I’m sure I missed 10-20, but what a day:

  • White storks
  • Black stork
  • Two peregrine falcons
  • Black kite
  • Red kite
  • Marsh harrier
  • Two kestrels
  • Great crested grebe
  • Eurasian coot
  • Red-knobbed coot
  • Cormorants
  • Great white egrets
  • Grey heron
  • Eurasian spoonbill
  • Cattle egret
  • Avocet
  • Purple swamphen
  • Moorhen
  • Green sandpiper
  • Marbled duck
  • Common pochard
  • Mallard
  • Iberian magpie
  • Common magpie
  • Western jackdaw
  • Common raven
  • Crested lark
  • House sparrow
  • Spanish sparrow
  • European greenfinch
  • European goldfinch
  • Chaffinch
  • Common chiffchaff
  • Corn bunting
  • Eurasian blackcap
  • Eurasian blackbird
  • Zitting cisticola
  • Barn swallow
  • Warblers (so many!)