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Harvested rice field full of storks and gulls

Doñana in november

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

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Autumn brings us cooler but sunny days alternating with gray and rainy ones that transform Doñana without taking off its beauty but only change the background of a nice scenery. El Rocío Marshes, which have been flooded by the first rains, attract many birds like flamingos, spoonbills, storks, herons, geese and many species of ducks and waders. Marsh mares, red deer and the white silhouette of the El Rocío Church complete a beautiful set that will surely be immortalized in your camera.

El Rocío Marshes at sunrise

El Rocío Marshes at sunrise with the Church in the background

Black redstarts already abound across rooftops and balconies in the village. The just arrived chiffchaffs and bluethroats share the reed beds bordering the marshes with our resident zitting cistcicolas and cetti’s warblers. Purple gallinules, glossy ibis and coots also return to the shallow waters of the Mother of the Marshes, as this piece of marshland is known by locals.

 

Grass seeds in the soil of our forests react very quickly to the first rains, producing a green carpet that completely changes the look of our pine and cork oak woods. The green lawns are decorated with the white bells of the autumn snowflakes (acis autumnalis) and the purple ones of the late crocus (crocus serotinus). Forests are also filled with calls and songs of robins and blackcaps, which came from colder areas of the continent to enjoy our mild winters. Song thrushes, spotless and common starlings and blackbirds take advantage of the fabulous food resource offered to them by our wild olive trees shaped like small dark olives.

Under the cork oaks it is still easy to find groups of red deer and wild boar feeding on fallen acorns. Large flocks of pigeons and Iberian magpies also patrol the forests in search of food. The wet sands show us now clear signs of the nightlife activity of our Iberian lynx, which can be seen in the early morning lying in wait of a distracted rabbit, and other small mammals such as red fox and badgers.

 

Growing flocks of greylag geese which spend the night in the safety of the National Park, fly over the marshes edges on their way to the nearby rice paddies and cereal fields. Attracted by the easy food there, they will have to face the dangers of the just opened hunting season. The number of cranes also continues to grow as temperatures drop, but they are more fortunate and visit the surrounding agricultural areas with the tranquillity of not being in the list of huntable species. The mandrake (mandragora autumnalis) and the late narcissus (narcissus serotinus) decorate the road edges at the entrance of the marsh.

 

The Hinojos Marshes begin to turn green and flooded. Herds of marsh mares enjoy now the falling temperatures and the increased availability of food. Large groups of wintering white wagtails and skylarks share now the great clayish extension with our residents crested larks, calandra larks and lesser short-toed larks. The just arrived merlins have an eye on them. The Caño Guadiamar and Jose A. Valverde lagoons have accumulated some water and also attract flamingos, spoonbills, herons, ducks and waders. Marsh harriers show themselves easily in search of a clueless duck or coot.

 

In the salty dry marshes and fallow cereal fields is easier now to find our stone curlews; gathered in groups for the winter, they spend most of the day resting well camouflaged among the vegetation. Sharing with them the same kind of habitat it is also not too hard to find now one of our most beautiful wintering species, the short-eared owl, which uses the last hours of the day to hunt on the shrub cover of the vast dry marshes. Large mixed flocks of calandra larks and skylarks feed in the cereal fields north of the National Park, often accompanied by large groups of corn buntings. Large flocks of golden plover also start to gather here fleeing from the cold north.

 

The activity becomes frantic at Isla Mayor Rice Rice Paddies. Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, herons, storks, ducks and other birds, among which the large flocks of black-headed and lesser black-backed gulls stand out, concentrate on the freshly harvested fields. The activity of harvesters and tractors offers a lot of easy food that attract them. Kingfisher is common in canals and ditches. Large flocks of several hundred common and Spanish sparrows also feed in mature rice fields.

Gran bando de gorriones morunos

Bando de gorriones morunos

Black-tailed godwits concentrate in large winter groups and perform dances of beautiful choreography over the skies of rice fields and marshes. Some late individuals of osprey, booted eagle and short-toed eagle, purple heron, northern wheatear, house martin and barn swallow may be still around flying through marshes and forests in the Park.

November offers you a great variety of wildlife, beautiful sceneries and great weather conditions to enjoy Doñana nature.

About José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

José Antonio Sánchez se licenció en Biología por la Universidad de Sevilla en 1985. Más tarde, durante varios años, se dedicó a organizar y guiar rutas de senderismo y naturaleza ...

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