Doñana & winter wetlands in Andalusia

Wildlife watching
Expert Nature Guide
Wildlife watching
Expert Nature Guide

Natural parks

Doñana, Fuente de Piedras, Sierra Morena

Seasons

February

À la carte

7 days sampling wetlands

– Birds, amphibians and fairy schrimps

– Doñana National Park

– One nocturnal walk for salamanders

Region

Spain/ Andalusia

Meeting point

Seville

Specialized service

Small parties

The lagoons, marshes and ponds are at their highest level and will start to dry out over time until the vast majority dries up in late spring.

The wintering waterbirds are plethora and colonize the smallest water points and, obviously, sites of international importance such as Doñana, Laguna Fuente de Piedra and others.

They are not alone! 16 species of amphibians -10 Iberian endemics- populate Andalusian ponds and temporary streams. Just as extraordinary and much less well known, branquiopods (Tadpole shrimps, Fairy schrimps and Clam schrimps) are obligate inhabitants of temporary waters and are not uncommon in the region.

Other more generalist aquatic invertebrates accompany them. It is not uncommon to observe late in the season dragonflies (Sympetrum striolatum) or migratory dragonflies (Anax ephippiger). Some very specialized species of aquatic ferns complete this picture of the fauna and the flora subservient to Mediterranean aquatic ecosystems.

Travel schedule

DAY 1 | Transfer from airport - Seville
We will meet in Seville, Andalusia’s largest town, full of clichés, vibrant and busy. Wintering Lesser kestrels can be spotted while walking in direction of municipal gardens (María Luisa, El Alamillo) where more birdlife is expected. We will spend two nights here to enjoy its typical Andalusian ambience.
DAY 2 | Doñana, temporary ponds, Brazo del Este
South of the city, the river Guadalquivir creates a vast complex of wetlands (Doñana). On the left bank, lie some of the most interesting localities although much less visited than El Rocio. Firstly, we will visit the most diverse temporary ponds for Large Branquiopods (Fairy shrimps, Tadpole shrimps and Clam shrimps) in Andalusia. Later, birdwatching at Parque Natural del Brazo del Este will provide a handful of water birds and waders.
DAY 3 | Guadalquivir valley lagoons and Cordoba
Day dedicated to explore one the largest European farming range, punctuated by wetlands (Osuna, Lentejuela, Fuente de Piedra, among others), an area where to sight both aquatic and steppe birds. We will reach the city of Cordoba in the afternoon, where we will spend three nights and visit the urban heronry at Sotos de la Albolafia. Winter is the best moment to sight otters at this place.
DAY 4 |Sierra Morena amphibians
Day dedicated to amphibians and their habitats (up to 9 species). We will visit ponds around Córdoba in the morning and early afternoon, and come back early for a break. Later, from 20:00 – 23:00, a nocturnal excursion will focus on detecting adults at their breeding sites. Sierra Morena Fire Salamanders are astonishing with their unusual pattern of coloration.
DAY 5 | A flavour of Extremadura
We head north up to the Important Bird Area Alto Guadiato (at the border with Extremadura), where we will search for flocks of Common Cranes and Great Bustards and sample new ponds in order to complete our invertebrates / fairy shrimps survey. On the way back to Córdoba, we will not miss the cranes arrival at their roost (Sierra Boyera reservoir), an unforgettable experience.
DAY 6 | Back to Doñana, El Rocío
The morning will be free, either to rest from the intense previous days, either to hike along the river Guadalquivir and/or to walk around the old town and maybe to visit the famous Mosque-Cathedral monument. In the afternoon we will travel to the most prestigious Spanish wetland: Doñana. We will drive at El Rocio, the iconic village. We will rest two nights at a superb hotel with traditional thatched roof.
DAY 7 | Classic birdwatching in Doñana
Doñana Norte. Visit of classic bird sites: Dehesa Abajo, Observatorio Valverde, Guadiamar.
DAY 8 | Transfer to the airport
Alas this wonderfull travel has just finished. We head to the airport in the morning in order to come home.
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INCLUDE

  • A wildlife watching travel lead by local nature guide. Groups 5-8 people.
  • Half board (picnics by the participants).
  • Double rooms (single room supplement).
  • Does not include round-trip flights by plane.

Bonus

The discovery of Seville and Cordoba, two historic cities with a rich artistic heritage and surprising urban biodiversity. Additionally we will stay two nights under a traditional thatched roof. We will visit one of the prime habitat for Great Bustards.