This dry and warm winter that has accompanied us during the last weeks, more similar to spring than anything else, has brought us a series of evident changes in the usual natural events in Doñana for this time of year.
The marshes next to El Rocío have a good level of water and this is attracting a great variety of birds such as flamingos, spoonbills, storks, glossy ibis, herons, stilts, black-tailed godwits, spoonbills, ducks and many more. To these we an add large groups of deer grazing on its banks and the typical groups of semi-wild horses. Swallows and martins have been feeding over the marsh for weeks. Together, and with the help of the line of houses and the Sanctuary of El Rocío, a beautiful landscape is formed worthy of the best photographic snapshots.
At Coto de Rey pine forests, green meadows have prematurely begun to get decorated with flowers and the first orchids have bloomed several weeks earlier than normal. White daffodils abound this year, favored by good temperatures and sufficient soil moisture, and the first white flowers of the snow flakes have been coming out in the forests since late February, also more than a month early. Large cruciferous rugs also extend under the pine canopy in many areas of the forest and the first grasses are already blooming even before the beginning of spring.
Black kites in good numbers already calling with their typical groans from their perches on ash trees, pine and cork oaks and can already be seen transporting nesting material, without seeming to mind at all that spring is still 10 days ahead. Short-toed and booted eagles also fly over the skies of Doñana, some since last week of February.
Iberian lynx, still finishing its mating period, can often be seen strolling through the open areas of the forest, closely accompanied by small groups of deer and wild boar. Footprints of foxes and the badgers add to those of the lynx can be often seen along the paths that we follow in our all-terrain as we move cross the forests. Red-legged partridges have been paired for several weeks and will continue to do so, tightening their couple links, until completing the reproductive cycle with the arrival of the chickens in May. There is no partridge going alone, they all find a way to get a partner, how they all manage to do so remain as a mystery to me.
Needless to say that hoopoes, serins, greenfinches, goldfinches, wrens, chaffinches, tree-creepers, cetti´s warblers woodlarks, great tits, blue tits, Sardinian warblers and Iberian magpies compose a complex symphony of sounds that floods the forest every morning. The first woodchat shrikes have already been seen. Nightingales, melodious warblers, bee-eaters, orioles and other migratory birds must be on arrival. Black redstart, robins, chiffchaffs, and blakcaps are becoming scarce. Last song thrushes still approach the last puddles of the forest to drink.
At the Vera, the marshes edges, meadows are quickly getting covered with the typical pink carpets of wild geraniums and black-winged kites, already immersed in the incubation of their eggs, go out hunting in the last light of day. Few things can compete in beauty with the silhouette of these beautiful birds, the snowy white of their breasts, the delicate soft gray of their napes and their bright red eyes under the sunset light. Several pairs of imperial eagles fly over the forest edges in search of food on a daily basis, often venturing into the surrounding marshes.
Hinojos and Aznalcázar Marshes unfortunately did not get properly flooded this year, but that does not stop us from continuing to offer great views of a landscape full of green meadows where mares graze and puddles that attract an appreciable variety of waterfowl. Griffon vultures, buzzards, eagles, kestrels and kites constantly fly over them looking for an opportunity to feed. Large groups of migrating storks make a refueling stop in the Doñana marshes these days.
The last cranes can also still be seen foraging in the marshes, observed in the distance by groups of wild boars that are also looking for any opportunity to feed by moving across wide areas of the plains.
At Caño Guadiamar is where the greatest amount of water accumulates, along with the areas surrounding José Antonio Valverde Visitors Center. There it’s possible to find large groups of flamingos, stilts, black-tailed godwits and ducks. Purple gallinules and moorhens also abound among the reeds.
The bulk of common warblers has already crossed Doñana this year, unusually early, and the unmistakable song of the first Savi’s warblers has already being heard among the reeds and tamarisks in the Caño Guadiamar, the original Guadiamar River bed. Great-crested grebes, little grebes, spoonbills, red-crested pochards and the last snipes also feed in the Caño.
Many waterfowl already show obvious signs of the breeding season approach, such as this pair of glossy ibis that already practice with positions that will be new to many of them.
WE SEEM THESE ARE ENOUGH REASONS TO INVITE YOU TO COME TO DOÑANA THIS SPRING THAT IS RUSHING OVER US. SEE YOU AROUND.