1st September 1993 - 15th September 1993.
A birding holiday with Rob Harvey, who worked with me in the Natural History Sound Library at the BBC, we left on the Plymouth to Santander ferry at 12 noon in very calm conditions. We started sea-watching at 12.30pm, then on and off to 8pm, during the journey we saw lots of the regular gulls, 220+ Gannets, 29 Shags, 8 Great Skuas, 6 Fulmars, 6 Storm Petrels, 2 Manx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater and a possible Beaked Whale.
Still on the ferry, we started our sea-watch at 6.35am to 9.30am when we entered Santander Harbour, seeing 2 Risso's Dolphins, c20 Common Dolphins and 3 Black Terns. In the harbour there was a Pomarine Skua and 18 Little Gulls. Leaving Santander we drove south to central Spain, to Trujillo, stopping along the way seeing 45 Griffon Vultures, a Buzzard, 2 Booted Eagles, 2 Black-eared Wheatears, 2 Red Kites, a Little Egret, Spotless Starlings, a Western Azure-winged or Iberian Magpie, Crested Larks and a Lesser Kestrel.
From Trujillo we drove north to Monfrague National Park, on the way seeing a Red Kite, 4 Hoopoes, lots of Crested Larks, 9 Iberian Magpies, c20 Bee-eaters, 3 Red-legged Partridges, 2 Red-rumped Swallows and a Southern Grey Shrike. During our brief time in the park we saw 20+ Griffon Vultures, 5 Egyptian Vultures, 2 Black Vultures, Crag Martins, 2 Blue Rock Thrushes, Spotless Starlings, c30 Bee-eaters, 2 Rock Buntings and 2 Black Redstarts.
Later, we drove south towards Seville and on to Sanlucar de Barrameda, on the way seeing 2 Montagu's Harriers, 2 Hoopoes, lots of Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets, White Storks, 3 Iberian Magpies and a Booted Eagle.
Then we drove to Bonanza Salt Pans where we had an hour or so before dark. We saw 8 Kentish Plovers, c80 Whimbrel, 400+ Black Terns, 24 Greater Flamingoes, 100+ Dunlin, 6 Little Stints, 2 Temminck's Stints, c40 Curlew Sandpipers, c500 Avocets, 10+ Black-winged Stilts, 9 Slender-billed Gulls, 40+ Gull-billed Terns, 20+ Redshank, 10 Wood Sandpipers, c20 Little Egrets, c40 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Little Terns, 30+ Yellow Wagtails and a Kingfisher.
A morning visit to Bonanza Salt Pans from 8.45am to 1pm, then a return in the evening from 6pm to dusk, numbers in brackets if there was an increase during the evening visit.
On our walk around the site we saw 9 Spotless Starlings, 3 Sanderling, 2 Kingfishers, 44 Redshank, 4 Little Stints, 30 Curlew Sandpipers, 56 (100) Black-winged Stilts, 80 Dunlin, 3 Kentish Plovers, 3 Temminck's Stints, a Wood Sandpiper, 115 Spoonbills, 16 (92) Little Terns, 600+ (c1,000) Avocets, 10 Grey Herons, 45 (350) Greater Flamingoes, 225 Black-tailed Godwits, lots of Black-headed Gulls, 8 (10) Little Egrets, 6 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plovers, 1 (360) Black Terns, Sardinian Warblers, a Green and 2 Common Sandpipers, a Red-necked Phalarope, 2 Curlew, a White Stork,
(c80) Whimbrel, (c30) Grey Plovers, (c6) Marsh Sandpipers, (a few) Whiskered Terns and (56) Gull-billed Terns.
During the afternoon we explored the area near Rota, seeing a Woodchat Shrike, 3 Willow Warblers, a European Chameleon new for me, 30+ Sandwich Terns, 8 Little Terns, 200+ Black Terns, a Sardinian Warbler, a Fan-tailed Warbler or Zitting Cisticola and 2 Subalpine Warblers.
We returned to Bonanza Salt Pans, where we saw 2 Kingfishers, a Zitting Cisticola, 148 Spoonbills, c1000 Avocets, 50+ Black-tailed Godwits, 80 Dunlin, 30 Curlew Sandpipers, c40 Redshank, Greater Flamingoes, c10 Little Egrets, 5 Slender-billed Gulls, 40+ Little Terns, Whiskered Terns, a Buzzard, 40+ Black-winged Stilts and a Hoopoe.
Later, we went to a lake in woodland a little way north and east of the salt pans, a deep lake which was probably an old quarry, here we saw 2 Whiskered Terns, 25 Coot, 350+ Little Grebes, 4 White-headed Ducks, 10 Great Crested Grebes, a Purple Gallinule, 7 Little Egrets, 8 Black-necked Grebes, a Pochard, 3 Melodious Warblers and a Reed Warbler.
We drove west to the Coto Donana and in the area by the Information Centre we saw a Marsh Harrier, 5 White-headed Ducks, a Purple Gallinule, a good selection of common ducks including a Red-crested Pochard, 6 Griffon Vultures, 3 Great Crested and 6 Little Grebes, c40 Lapwing, 16 Common Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover, a few Iberian Magpies, a Kingfisher, a Little Egret and 30 Greylag Geese.
An early morning visit to Huelva Salt Pans, but there wasn't a lot there, lots of gulls, a few terns and waders. Returning to the Coto Donana we explored the areas north of the reserve and public areas on the reserve, seeing 2 Booted Eagles, a Pied and 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Stonechat, 2 Whinchats, Crested Tits, Iberian Magpies, 6 Bee-eaters, 2 Garden Warblers, a Golden Oriole, 6 Purple Gallinules, a Wood Sandpiper, 8 Black-winged Stilts, 10 Snipe, 2 Ruff, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Spotted Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and a Kentish Plover.
We drove north, at Merida we stopped to view an area of damp meadows where there were 4000+ Cattle Egrets, 40+ Little Egrets, 6 White Storks, 20+ Grey Herons, 200+ Jackdaws, 11 Cormorants, a Hoopoe and Crested Larks.
We continued north to the area known as the Rio Salor Plain, were we saw 2 Kestrels, a Red Kite, 2 Black Vultures, 4 Hoopoes, 3 Southern Grey Shrikes, a Black-shouldered Kite, 6 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 13 Great Bustards, 3 Griffon Vultures, a Lesser Kestrel, 4 Ravens, 16 Stone Curlews, 6 Cattle Egrets, Spotless Starlings and Crested Larks.
Overnight in Trujillo, in the morning we drove north, stopping at the Rio Almonte seeing 80 Griffon Vultures, 4 Black Vultures, 2 Red Kites, a Hoopoe and 8 Iberian Magpies.
We continued to Monfrague National Park, where this visit we had more time, seeing 36 Griffon Vultures, an Osprey, 15 Black Storks, 2 Ravens, 2 Short-toed Eagles, Crag Martins, 4 Black Redstarts, 5 Black Vultures, 2 Rock Buntings, 2 Blue Rock Thrushes, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Western Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warblers, Iberian Magpies, 8 Red-legged Partridges, a Red Kite, a Nuthatch and a Jay.
Continuing north we stopped at the Rio Tietar, between Otopesa and Candeleda, seeing a Southern Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpies, a Whitethroat, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 16 Bee-eater, a Kingfisher, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Common Sandpiper and a Hoopoe.
A drive up through the Gredos Mountains seeing 8 Ravens, 4 Rock Buntings, Crag Martins, 4 Griffon Vultures and 2 Red Kites.
On the way north to Segovia there were 2 Booted Eagles, 8 Buzzards, 7 Red Kites and 3 Kestrels.
A drive through the Sierra de Guadarrama seeing 5 Griffon Vultures, 9 Black Vultures, with another c40 vultures in the distance, 9 Ravens, 4 White Wagtails, c20 Citril Finches, Pied Flycatchers, 5 Black Redstarts, a Spotted Flycatchers, Crested Tits, a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Serins, 2 Golden Eagles, a Schreiber's Green Lizard, Crag Martins and 6 Iberian Magpies.
At nearby Emboise de Santillana there were a few ducks and gulls including a Little Gull, also a Thekla Lark, Serins, Spotless Starlings, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Western Olivaceous Warblers and 4 Willow Warblers.
A distant Rob Harvey in Segovia.
12th and 13th September.
I dropped Rob at Madrid Airport for his flight back to Bristol. Then drove north, it was getting increasingly windy and by the time I got to the north coast, the wind was gale force. I checked into a hotel on a headland, the gale increased through the night, everything rattled.
The following day the wind hadn't dropped, even the car was swaying, so I stayed in the hotel.
14th and 15th September.
The wind had dropped, so I drove to Santander Harbour for the ferry back to Plymouth. While waiting on the quay I saw a Death's-head Hawk-moth, new for me. By the time the ferry left at 1pm the wind was light, but there was a heavy swell with large waves breaking over the ship. I did a sea-watch for the first couple of hours, even though it was difficult to keep the binoculars steady and I got soaked from the spray, seeing 8 Gannets, 12 Storm Petrels, 10 Cory's Shearwaters, 5 Manx Shearwaters, a Great Skua, 9 Great Shearwaters and 6 Arctic Terns.
The next morning was much calmer, so I did another sea-watch, between 9.40am to 11.45am, seeing 82 Gannets, 7 Great Skuas, 2 Storm Petrels, 2 Fulmars and 9 Grey Plovers.
Eurasian Black Vulture, Monfrague National Park, 9/9/93.