We left mid-morning on Friday for Huelva, about three hours north-west of us, where I had to give a lecture that evening. On the way we picked up a good number of Black Kites and several flocks of Griffon Vultures. Since we had a bit of time we decided to stop at another of our favourite haunts on the east bank of the Guadalquivir River. This is part of the Doñana National Park. The day was grey and it soon developed into a downpour. By mid-morning the temperature had plummeted to 5C. We didn't have much time at this site but managed to see Great White Egret, hundreds of Purple Gallinules and Little Egrets. 10 Black Storks and 15 Black-winged Stilts seemed newly arrived, busily feeding, although both species do winter here in small numbers. A solitary Osprey struggled to fly into the lashing rain in search of food. A few Marsh Harriers also about.
Black Stork - Brazo del Este. Friday 12th February, 2010
Black-winged Stilts - Brazo del Este. 12th February, 2010
Great White Egret - Brazo del Este. 12th February, 2010
Grey Heron - Brazo del Este. 12th February, 2010
Lots of Swallows about. Many passing through but others clearly established in traditional breeding areas. These are the first Swallows to breed in Europe and they manage to raise two broods (sometimes three) before the summer drought. They manage to get in early and, despite cold nights, can find enough insects during the day. The reason is a combination of longer days than further north and the high position of the sun in the sky. It means that you can start the morning at 5C and have reached 20C by noon. This gets the insects going and the swallows have plenty to feed on.