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Caño Guadiamar after the rain in May 2016

It came, it changed

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

Posted in

A total of 160 mm of rain accumulated during a few days last week have changed everything in Doñana very quickly. Large puddles still make the driving along Raya Real difficult, although they get reduced day by day. In the adjacent pine forests, solitary female red deer that have left the group wonder about waiting for the birth of her fawn and looking for the best place to do it. Large and tall blue irises come out now to decorated the undergrowth in the pine forests. The green is fading away in the meadows but delicate thrifts put a note of colour while tassel hyacinths, stand out over the dense carpet of grasses on top of their long stems under the canopy. Near the edge of the marshes we found the splendorous flowers of the larkspur another little flower that is coming out now when temperatures start to raise.

In the marshes, some birds that were already nesting have been badly affected. As an example we bring you this pair of storks that were happily feeding their two week day old chicks about 10 days ago; rain and wind put the nest down with the chicks in it, now, as if nothing had happened, they are starting all over again.


Large parts of the marshes are flooded now and that is attracting birds to Doñana very quickly. Next to Cancela de la Escupidera we found today several hundred young lesser black-backed and black-headed gulls with some slender-billed gulls among them. Large flocks of waders and flamingos were feeding further away. Most of Hinojos Marshes are under a shallow layer of water that may not last for very long, especially is temperatures now in May stay high. Avocets, black-winged stilts, gull-billed and whiskered terns have been called back to the area.


With most of the land flooded, sandgrouses and larks are easier now. The first ones will start breeding now and it is much easier to find them on dry land near the road and the second ones have been also damaged by the raise of the water, although many of the their chicks were already flying, and are forced to use the road. Further along the road that goes through the marshes, at Caño Guadiamar, the water accumulated there is attracting flocks of common pochards, red crested pochards and a small group of white headed ducks. Little bitterns and great reed warblers are increasing numbers as the conditions improve for them in the spot.


Pair of pintail sandgrouse

Pair of pintail sandgrouse; male on the right

At Jose A.Valverde Visitor Centre, the number of egrets and ibis in the colony has increased very quickly. Now we have about 20 tamarisks full of them. Purple and squacco herons are also increasing numbers. And further east, at Lucio del Lobo, there are now several hundred black-winged stilts starting to nest. They may not have enough water around to succeed but they will still try, that strong is the call of nature.

Lucio del Lobo after the rain in May 2016

Lucio del Lobo

This is just the beginning, Doñana’s marshes will do nothing but improve in the next few weeks. Come and enjoy them.


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 ...