April is a great month to visit Doñana, one of the best times for birdwatchers or to enjoy our wildlife and colourful landscapes. It is also a very busy month so it is very important to book your tour in advanced if you don’t want to find out that we and all companies offering tours in the Park are fully booked in the period you request.
Forests and marshes look great and most of our animals are now busy with their breeding tasks. Temperatures rise day by day and may reach nearly 30ºC at midday if the weather stay stable, although you may also get cooler temperatures and rain. Green colours fade away slowly from our landscapes. In the marshes, the higher areas dry out and turn quickly yellow if temperatures are high. In the forests and meadows grasses and daisies spread over large areas changing also the look of marshes edges and road sides. Cereals fields next to the Park are ready to be harvested.
Thistles also proliferate, offering protection to a horde of snails. It is also time for the first thrifts in blossom and many different rockroses that decorate large areas in the scrublands and forests with their pink, white and yellow flowers. Aromatic plants like thyme, lavender and rosemary abound in the driest areas of the dunes and unstabilized sands of the Park. First antlions build their deadly traps.
Red-legged partridges walk in pairs in our forests and female red deer show their rounded bellies while getting ready to give birth their fawns. Wild boars walk around with their grown up piglets and red fox work actively to feed their offspring. Number of insects, beatles, butterflies, drangongflies, wasps and others increase.
Serins, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, wrens, short-toed treecrepers, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits and particularly nightingales sing very actively in our pine and cork oak forests. Little owl, woodchat shrikes, hoopoes, wood pigeons, turtle doves, Spanish sparrows, tree sparrows and other birds collaborate in the composition of a very rich forestry symphony.
Most of our wintering birds have gone back to the north so normally is not possible anymore to see any geese or cranes in our marshes. But bird migration is still coming through bringing us new species every day. Some come to stay and some others just pass through on their way north.
Species like osprey, short-toed eagle, garganey, roller, whinchat, redstart, wheatear, whitethroat, pied and spotted flycatcher, Bonelli’s warbler, garden warbler, sedge warbler, willow warbler and others passerines pass through in good numbers when weather conditions around the Gibraltar Straight are favourable.
Large flocks of several thousand sand martins gather for short periods at certain places of the marshes while common and pallid swifts spread through the blue skies of the large flooded area. Alpine swifts can also be seen on passage. Very large numbers of flamingos see them passing spread all over the flooded marshes.
Other species like booted eagle, black kite, collared pratincole, whiskered tern, gull-billed tern, golden oriole, cuckoo, turtle dove, bee-eater, Iberian yellow wagtail, melodious warbler, Isabelline warbler, great reed warbler, reed warbler keep on coming in day by day to stay. Montagu’s harriers, black-eared wheatears, ortolan buntings, cirl buntings can also be seen some days passing through the marshes on migration. The last adult great-spotted cuckoo can still be seen embroiled with its usual disputes with magpies. Red-necked nightjars sing actively at dusk.
Squacco herons and purple herons become common around Caño Guadiamar and begin to show their best plumages. Thousands of egrets and herons whirl round in their breeding colony at Jose Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre and along the Caño to get their nests ready and hatch their first eggs. Little bitterns can also be heard groaning for their hides in the reeds and tamarisks while great reed warblers, reed warblers, coots, purple swamphens and little grebes compose a noisy symphony of sounds around the bridge over the Caño Guadiamar.
Marbled teal, red-knobbed coot, white-headed duck and ferruginous duck are species that visit us in good springs with good water levels and can be seen around Lucio del Lobo, Jose A. Valverde and Caño Guadiamar. Towards the end of the month the first rufous bush robins arrive and settle in the kitchen gardens around Bollullos and Almonte.
This is also a good month to try elusive species like crakes whose numbers go up exponentially during migration time in places like Brazo de la Torre o Brazo del Este. And with a bit more of luck you will get other unusual species like rock thrush or western orphean warbler on passage.
The first Spanish imperial eagle chicks come out and we start having the first Lynx cub sightings Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee the success on finding them, it is just a matter of luck. Well, actually, as I always say, there wouldn’t be any excitement on something that you get or see every day. Come, enjoy Doñana at its best and try them.