Shared birdwatching tour
Doñana for birders
Each year many independent travelers decide to explore Doñana on their own. We understand them perfectly, I do the same often when I travel to a new area, even knowing from experience that without a guide, I will just get to see and experience a small fraction of the potential of the area; It is simply a way to do it, a personal choice, a philosophy of travel.
I also know very well that a local guide can make the difference if what you want is to find some particular birds in an area as large as Doñana and that independent travelers often have a limited budget. Bearing in mind both, Discovering Doñana has designed a new product for you this spring: Shared Bird Tours.
This new service is particularly aimed at people visiting Doñana in spring, whose main interests are focused on bird watching and are members of any of the worldwide bird associations (We will ask you for the name of the association and your membership number).
These shared tours will start from our offices in El Rocio every TUESDAY and FRIDAY from March to May, they will last about 6 hours, begin at dawn and cost only € 35 per person. The areas visited will usually be located in the forests and marshes in the north of the Doñana National Park and include José A.Valverde Visitors Center and its bird breeding colony, but the final itinerary will be agreed with the group before we start.
The maximum group size will be 10 and a 15 seated vehicle will be used if available. The minimum size will be 4 and a smaller vehicle will be used when more appropriated to the size of the group. If we don’t reach the minimum size, we will offer you an alternative to visit the same area of the Park.
Our experienced guides will talk to the group about the species or ecosystems of interest and inform if asked about other species not present in the chosen itinerary.
During our tours you will also have the chance to see one of the most emblematic species of Doñana, our Iberian lynx. Well, actually, to be precise, we will endeavor to offer this possibility; Lynx is out there ready to be picked up by experienced eyes like yours. GOOD LUCK.
I shall see you in Spring !
Description of the route
Coto del Rey Pine Woods
Our route begins at the village of El Rocío and from there, the famous pilgrims’ sandy road locally called Raya Real will take us to Coto del Rey Pine Forest. Many of our passerine species are similar to those in most or European forests, but in our area we can find some difficult species and specialties like iberian magpie, iberian green woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, golden oriole, bee-eater, short-toed treecreeper, crested tit, sardinian warbler, subalpine warbler, cetti’s warbler and serin. Our pine forests, with a thick undergrowth composed by large mastic trees and numerous species of rockrose, are ideal for reed deer, fox, badger and mongoose, and is also one of the areas with highest density of Iberian lynx in the world.
The cork oak forest and the Vera
We enter one of the best preserved patches of our original cork oak forest that, in the not too distant past, covered most of the lowlands surrounding the Guadalquivir Marshes, and enjoyed the spectacular views of the vera, the contact area between the sands of the forests and the clay of the marshland, where groups of reed deer graze quietly and groups of wild boar can be seen often, without forgetting that this is still iberian lynx territory. Here species such as black kite, booted eagle, little owl, red-legged partridge, great-spotted cuckoo, corn bunting and red-rumped swallow are common. Besides these are good areas for a first attempts to see some other species such as our spanish imperial eagle, little bustard and stone curlew.
On leaving the last ancient oaks, it opens before our eyes the vast expanse of the Guadalquivir River Marshes. Its infinitude overwhelms the senses and the life within it is shown in as many ways as different are the seasons. Summer parched plains welcome the autumn rains and within a few weeks, turn into a endless lake hosting huge flocks of waders and ducks arrived from the north to take advantage of our mild winters. In spring the marsh becomes a green carpet of seas clubrush supporting a rich birdlife, purple herons, squacco herons, glossy ibis, collared pratincoles, black-winged stilts, avocets, whiskered and gull-billed terns swirl around in the breeding areas, disputing its right to existence to black kites and marsh harriers, that fly threateningly up in the skies. The pintail sandgrouse is another emblematic species of our wetlands in which always put our efforts, although they are not always rewarded.
In spring, this old riverbed of the Guadiamar River, provides appropriate deep waters to species such as great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe, red-knobbed coot, white-headed duck, ferruginous duck or red-crested pochard. Other species difficult to see like marbled teal also visit us every year in small numbers. Among its dense reed beds many other interesting species like bittern, little bittern, purple swamphen, great reed warbler, savi’s warbler, zitting cisticola and penduline tit breed. It is also an excellent area to, from mid-morning, lift up your eyes to the skies and try some of our most emblematic birds of prey like the spanish imperial eagle, the short-toed eagle or the griffon vulture.
José Antonio Valverde
Surrounded by marshes, José Antonio Valverde Visitors Center is a must stop on our way through the marshes. It is a great place to have a coffee break and an unbeatable birding spot. Here we find one of the largest heronries in Europe, purple herons, squacco herons, cattle and little egrets, glossy ibis and night herons concentrate to reach several tens of thousands each spring and offer us a wonderful performance from the Centre viewing windows. In Spring is certainly one of the most attractive places in whole Donana National Park. It is also a good place to try our species of crakes and have good sightings of easier species like purple swamphen and red-crested pochard.
Lucio del Lobo
Further east we reach Lucio del Lobo (a sort of marsh lagoon), whose name reminds us of the large mammals extinct today from Doñana. Surrounded by dry marshes, short-toed eagles and lesser kestrels watch us from their perches, while groups of curious fallow deer stare at us as we passed along. In spring, the green of the carpets of clubrush and searush, the white of the patches of pond water-crowfoot and the blue of the skies compose beautiful marshland postcards. Here we stop again to look through our binoculars the usual groups of flamingos and spoonbills. It is also a good stop to try to species such as avocet, marsh harrier, whiskered tern, lesser short-toed lark, calandra lark, spectacled warbler, spanish sparrow and corn bunting. In winter, large flocks of greylag geese and common cranes catch our attention with their powerful calls and the fast flight of the merlin leads us to the distant silhouettes of the mobile dunes in the south of the Park shining in the sun.
This is a large farm state of about 2,000 hectares. where they have been working for years to restore the wetlands. These young marshes and nearby cereal fields provide an ideal steppe land appropriate to species like montagu’s harrier, calandra lark, pintail sandgrouse, stone curlew and short-toed lark. Large numbers of pallid swifts and sand martins concentrate here during the migratory passage and the power poles bordering the property turn into excellent perching places for a large number of birds of prey like lesser kestrels, short-toed eagles and our spanish imperial eagle and also attract birds on passage like roller and rock thrush. In winter short-eared owls abound here, which can be seen hunting low at dusk over the high grassland next to the hen harriers, and at Caño Travieso, that gets flooded again nowadays, large flocks of ducks and waders concentrate.
This is the artificial watercourse containing the Guadiamar River and the Brazo de la Torre where some dense clubrush carpets and large phragmites beds grow in spring providing shelter to species like purple swamphen, red-knobbed coot, purple heron, bittern, marsh harrier, spanish sparrow and great reed warbler. Barn owls and long-eared owls roost in the tarmarisks in Winter and other species like woodchat shrike, turtle dove and isabelline warbler abound in Spring. From October large flocks of greylag geese and cranes concentrate here as well. The nearby cereal and rice fields are also good areas for observing other species like calandra lark, pintail sandgrouse, stone curlew and montagu’s harrier.
he gave us a very informative dissertation
on folk customs, botany, zoology,
environmental sustainability ... well, even
children talked later about how many
things they learned and how easy
was to understand him.”
– Fátima García –
Antonio in Doñana. It is appreciated when
people love their work, enjoy teaching
others all they know and do not have any
hurry to finish. And furthermore the
equipment was just perfect, telescope, binos
and field guides were of a great help to us.”
– Pedro Dámaso –
was the highlight of our visit to
Andalusia. Not only for the 100 species
of birds we saw, but also because of the
interesting information from the guide
on Doñana’s ecology and history. It was
an unforgettable experience for us.”
– Andrea Owen & Martin Holmes –
Book this tour now
Contact us and we will personally inform you of all the details.