Sunday 21 April 2013

The Shadow of the Black Kite - part 1

This blog is supposed to be about a trip me and Phil Smith made to the Coto Donana last week. However the pics won't load this evening, altho suprisingly this panorama of the lagoon at El Rocio did. I've now lost the will to live waiting for the upload and will try again tomorrow, when I shall  explain the title - in the meantime enjoy the view, and imagine the 33 degree temperature 

 OK, folks, it's Monday afternoon, and the upload is working, so here goes :-
This is our second trip to the Donana, the first is recounted on my old website
Our base this time was the small town of Villamanrique de la Contessa, where we stayed at the Alojamientos Tartessos, a small and very pleasant hotel recommended by Peter Warham of Donana Birdtours. It proved difficult for us to find and after 4 goes round the village we parked and headed for the bar in the square

 Here, and whilst asking directions, we discovered few if any of the locals speak much English, but whilst we enjoyed a small beer, our hostess kindly phoned the hotel and the owner soon appeared to guide us there, after another beer! Villamanrique is a very pleasant little town and is to be recommended
 The church is an important staging post for the annual pilgrimage of devoted worshipers en route to El Rocio, mostly on horseback and in horse and ox driven carriages apparently  
Sat at another bar later in the evening  (I said it is a pleasant town!) there were Swifts and House Martins careering round the tower in fine style  
Earlier, en route to Villamanrique after arriving from Faro airport we took in the sights at El Rocio, famous for the beautiful Church beside the lagoon, the subject of the panorama at the start of this blog
The lagoon, this year very full following more than usual rain and cold (we know that feeling) is also famous as a very very good place to see lots of super birds such as Red Crested Pochard, Whiskered Tern, Spoonbill, White Stork, Collared Pratincoles flying over, Pied Flycatcher, Black Winged Stilt, Hoopoe and Red Rumped Swallow 
The place is also famous for the bare sandy streets, complete lack of traffic management, and it's horse-friendliness. I expected John Wayne to come swaggering down the street, six-guns at the ready
Instead, there was Phil with his camera, about to be run over
Notice the sign and the hitching rails outside this hotel, I said it is horse-friendly
From the promenade by the lagoon, this White Stork was easy to photograph
so were these House Martins gathering mud for nest-building - there were hundreds of them
Out back of the hotel, on the evening walk route there was this fine cockerell to admire
and a real Ass!
Day 2 saw us out in the Corredor Verde once again, a super nature reserve, typical of this view
Woodchat Shrikes were everywhere we went, beautiful birds we almost began to take for granted
and this small bird flitting into a bush turned out to be a HUGE Grasshopper, it was about 4" long
Cattle Egrets were plentiful too, more so than Little Egrets
and finally for part 1, this Short Toed Eagle sat on a pylon had us bemused as another appeared from some distance away and after stooging around a bit displayed to it, and us. Phil has some pics of this, I hope, but my weedy bridge camera just wasn't up to the task. Trying to get it to focus on a bird, even as big as an Eagle, in the sky is like trying to plait sawdust 
the blog title?? You'll have to wait for part 2 which includes more birds

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