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Doñana in May

fathers, mothers, chicks and young

Undoubtedly this is one of the best months of the year for birding in Doñana. The influx of birdwatchers is not as numerous as in April, temperatures are better and the chance of rain much lower; this means that in an average rainfall year, May is probably the best month to visit Doñana, although you should take in account not to coincide with the celebration of El Rocío Annual Festival, when the tours to the park are suspended and it’s difficult to move around in the area by car and get accommodation unless you pay an exorbitant price.

It is still possible to see numerous species of waders on passage and also the last short-toed eagles, black storks (normally young ones), garganeys, pied flycatchers and wheatears.

It is in May when the bulk of reproductive activities take place in Doñana and the breeding colony of José Antonio Valverde is a cacophony of squawks and songs with the constant coming and going of birds. The views of the colony from inside the visitor centre are great, making it one of the most interesting experiences in Doñana throughout the year.

Coto del Rey Pine Forests and Matasgordas Cork Oak Woods also teem with the reproductive activity of black kites, booted eagles and now you can see the first chicks in the nests; they are just small balls of white feather, but in a few weeks they will be exercising their flying technique through the skies of the forests. It is also now when most of female red deer leave the protection of the herd to give birth to their fawns in a hidden spot of the woods and when first partridge chicks come out.

Rollers and orioles still pass through Doñana, the same as alpine swift, and species like, little bittern, squacco and purple heron, cuckoo, collared pratincole, gull-billed and whiskered terns, increase their numbers consequently. White-headed duck is an occasional visitor to Caño Guadiamar and Dehesa de Abajo lagoon.

Other species like little, black-necked and great-crested grebes, red-crested pochard, avocet, black-winged stilt, purple swamphen, great reed warbler, reed warbler, Savi’s warbler, red-rumped swallow, short-toed lark, and yellow wagtail become very common and the chances to see them increases in lagoons, caños and marshes.

In forests and meadows other species like bee-eater, woodchat shrike, red-necked nightjar, rufous bush robin, nightingale, melodious and Isabelline warbler also become very common. In the marshes pintail sandgrouse start displaying and become easier.

This is when the rice paddies start getting flooded. Cattle and little egrets, gull-billed terns and whiskered terns are normally the first to arrive to feed on the small insects that move away from the flood.

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