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tractor ploughing a harvested rice field

Doñana’s life moves out

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

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Raptor migration is nearly over in Doñana but we managed to see to today a nice osprey resting on an electric pylon near Hato Ratón Rice Fields.

Red deer are still easy to see everywhere in the pine and cork oak forests, where they already reach up for the still unripe acorns from the cork trees. The last howls can still be heard in the distance; fallow deer will take their turn in the reproductive tasks in the next few weeks. We saw fresh lynx tracks today, but were not lucky enough to see the actual cat; we saw wild boar and an elegant red fox though. Blackcaps and robins are coming back to our forests for the winter while the last flycatchers and willow warblers are still passing through them. The number of common buzzards is also increasing quickly.

In the marshes the first wintering little bustards have arrived while the last migratory short-toed larks can still be seen sharing the water leaking from a cattle trough with their close relatives the lesser short-toed and crested larks. Linnets, corn buntings, spanish sparrows and the first white wagtails also joined them.  At Jose A. Valverde Visitor Centre they are pumping water into the lagoon; calandra larks and pintail sandgrouse come early every morning to get a drink of fresh water.  Common kestrels, red kites and peregrines are the ones increasing numbers day by day here but we haven’t seen any merlin yet. Griffon vultures still take advantage of the sunny and warm weather to overfly the dry plains in search of a mouthful of rotten rare beef.

Life has moved from the dry marshes to the rice fields north of the Park. There the harvest works have just started and hundreds of birds follow the heavy machinery and concentrate in the just harvested fields to take advantage of the easily available food. Large flocks of glossy ibis build an alive chessboard in conjunction with hundreds of little and cattle egrets, black-headed and lesser black-backed gulls. Grey herons stay apart, closer to the ditches looking for bigger preys accompanied by the first great white egrets back in Doñana area for the winter.

At Dehesa de Abajo there is very little water left, but a large flock of flamingos still take advantage of the shallow waters along with a large number of avocets, black-winged stilts and fuffs.  In the near Brazo de la Torre, yellow-crowned bishops and common waxbills are still finishing their reproductive period and flocks of them can be seen here and there.

Like every dry season, life does not disappear from Doñana but moves out to the rice fields waiting for the rainy season to start and wintering birds to come back from the north.

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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