We were standing just outside the hotel in the darkness of a nippy winter morning. To make the things worse, it started to drizzle. Anoop had to struggle to protect his camera (along with a newly bought lens) from the raindrops. We had planned this birding excursion to Donana national park in Spain and were waiting for Mr Juan Matu who would be our guide there.


Matu arrived at 7:35 am and soon we were in the back seat of his car making introductions even though we did have a few email conversations before. I could still hear the pitter-patter of the rain drops falling on the glass. But Matu assured that we don’t have to worry about the rain as it will stop in a while. Like he said, within the next half an hour when we reached the entrance of the park, rain had automatically stopped as if it didn’t want to spoil our excitement.


When we arrived at the national park, the whole place was still submerged in dark but on the horizon dawn was breaking with colours. The faint light grew stronger spreading across the sky and slowly regaining its power over the darkness. The daybreak chorus of the birds had soothing effect. Matu was very eager to show us around and stopped at every possible place.

Marshy area

At the beginning on a swampy ground, waders like lapwings, sandpipers, Bluethroat, wagtails along with big birds like Spoonbills and Glossy ibis were busy feeding. There were Common Buzzards, and kestrels hovering over the area in search of prey. Matu helped us to spot other raptors like Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle and so on. We were expecting to see Griffon Vultures, but they decided not to show up.

BIG LAKE With water birds

As we moved further, there was a big lake and we could hear the honking of the birds from far enough. Greater Flamingos, not just one or two but in huge numbers were on a early morning parade. It made a nice pink spot on the lake. That was the first time I got to see flamingos in the wild.

Flamingo colony along with Black-winged Stilts,Pied Avocets, Northern Shovelers, Common Pochards,Red Crested Pochards etc.,


There was a visitor center on the edge of another small but well protected lake. We sat inside, with a nice view of the lake in the front and had a warm coffee and were hoping to see Marbled Teal, Redknobbed coot and White-headed Ducks but that became a wild goose chase. Having the buzzards and Kestrels as a common sight, we also came across some hunters. Anoop spotted a Red Fox which was looking at us in awe. Both he and Matu tried to take some pictures before it ran away. Then there was a fallow deer pair.


It was getting darker bit early and we wanted to try our luck with Iberian lynx. But though we roamed in the woods for more than an hour we couldn’t get a glimpse of that rare cat.

We didn’t spot many rare species but there were lifers. Matu was a very skilled, veteran birder and was super supportive. We wanted to spend one more day at Donana but couldn’t as the future trips were planned already. Matu dropped us to our hotel at night and I would say it was one memorable birding day which we would like to cherish every now and then.

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Some clicks from the trip.

Black-crowned Night Herons roosting
Greater Flamingo pair
Grey Heron
Common Hoopoe
Northern Shoveler
Common Kestrel
Common Buzzard
Black-winged Stilt
Fallow deer

List of birds spotted during our trip 🙂

  1. Barn Swallow
  2. Black Redstart
  3. Black Stork
  4. Black-crowned Night Heron
  5. Black-headed Gull
  6. Black-shouldered Kite
  7. Black-winged Stilt
  8. Bluethroat
  9. Calandra Lark
  10. Caspian Tern
  11. Common Blackbird
  12. Common Buzzard
  13. Common Chiffchaff
  14. Common Crane
  15. Common Greenshank
  16. Common Kestrel
  17. Common Kingfisher
  18. Common Linnet
  19. Common Moorhen
  20. Common Pochard
  21. Common Ringed Plover
  22. Common Snipe
  23. Common Waxbill
  24. Corn Bunting
  25. Crested Lark
  26. Eurasian Coot
  27. Eurasian Hoopoe
  28. Eurasian Jackdaw
  29. Eurasian Magpie
  30. Eurasian Spoonbill
  31. European Golden Plover
  32. European Goldfinch
  33. European Greenfinch
  34. European Robin
  35. European Serin
  36. European Stonechat
  37. Gadwall
  38. Glossy Ibis
  39. Great Cormorant
  40. Great Egret
  41. Great Tit
  42. Greater Flamingo
  43. Green Sandpiper
  44. Grey Heron
  45. Grey Wagtail
  46. Hen Harrier
  47. House Sparrow
  48. Iberian Grey Shrike
  49. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  50. Little Egret
  51. Little Grebe
  52. Mallard
  53. Meadow Pipit
  54. Northern Lapwing
  55. Northern Raven
  56. Northern Shoveler
  57. Peregrine Falcon
  58. Pied Avocet
  59. Red Kite
  60. Red-crested Pochard
  61. Sanderling
  62. Song Thrush
  63. Spanish Imperial Eagle (Juvenile)
  64. Spanish Sparrow
  65. Spotless Starling
  66. Western Cattle Egret
  67. Western Jackdaw
  68. Western Marsh Harrier
  69. Western Swamphen
  70. White Stork
  71. White Wagtail
  72. Wood Lark
  73. Wood Sandpiper
  74. Zitting Cisticola


6 Replies to “Birding in Donana National Park, Spain

  1. Interesting blog. I publish on facebook, facebook groups (Indian Birds and Bird Watchers of Kerala) and YouTube.

  2. The birding list is very similar to Indian Birding lists in Lakes in Winter. The flamingo is not too common in South Indian birding sites. This place looks so good. Happy Birding. Quite similar in Ecology

    1. Hi Devika ji,

      Thank you so much for your time and comment as well.
      In Europe there are less number of birds compare to Indian habitats. So even if we do birding whole day, it is difficult to spot good number of birds. But Donana National Park is really awesome with lot many species 🙂

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