Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Coto Donana - Bonanza Saltpans

The main targets for the day were the Slender-billed Gulls at the  Bonanza Saltpans and the White-headed Ducks at the Laguna de Tarelo.  It involved a long journey back through Sevilla and down the eastern side of the Guadalquivir river.  There were a number of other sites in the area to visit if we found our targets early but, as happens, things did not go exactly to plan, although we did find both targets fairly easily.

The Slender-billed Gulls were on the saltpans and viewable from the main road just north of Bonanza. There were probably about forty in total and they were very easy to identify. The pinkish heads and long black bills showed well but their behaviour was also unusual. They stayed in tight groups and seemed to be involved in communal feeding. A rare and unusual gull and it was good to be able to get such clear views.

The White-headed Duck, probably eight to ten of them, were also where they were supposed to be on the Laguna de Tarelo but they were a long way off. You can just about identify them in the picture below.

Distant White-headed Ducks  -  Heavy crop

We checked out the route through the Algaida Pine forest without finding much other than a few distant Black Kites and Buzzards. We also checked a few of the pools up by the river but found little of interest. Running out of time we had to head for home but were left with the feeling that we could have spent a couple more days around the area.

Where did we go wrong? We decided to visit La Senuela to see the Stork Colony and then to follow the road down by the side of the Guadalquivir River to the Bonanza Saltpans. It all looked good at the start although it was a bumpy ride into La Senuela an old and seemingly abandoned church. The trouble was that we managed to flush most of the Storks and we should really have arrived in the afternoon when the lighting would have been better.

La Senuela

Moving on, the route along the river started off really well and we had good views of a few Night Herons although all were in varying levels of cover.

Night Heron

After having travelled about 20km the road started to deteriorate and we were at serious risk of grounding the car in trying to manoeuvre around some major potholes. In the end we had to give up and retrace much of the distance we had covered. We lost a lot of time and checking the maps afterwards we were probably only a kilometre short of hitting a good road. 

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