DOÑANA IN JANUARY
We normally see in January the first swallows back from Africa; what they eat during these first cold weeks of the year remains a mystery, because insect are still very scarce. Temperatures are still pleasant compared to the north of the country and northern countries in Europe and we enjoy lots of sunny days with excellent visibility, ideal to practice nature photography, when temperatures easily reach the 15°.
Meadows and marsh edges start to get decorated with our first flowers while pine and cork oak woods show a beautiful bright green under our blue skies. Iberian lynx mating season will increase the chances to come across one of them. First great spotted cuckoos are normally spotted in January exploring opportunities around magpie breeding spots. The abundant caterpillars along road edges and dry marshes are their main source of food. Black-winged kites, common kestrels and hen harriers also use these areas as feeding grounds and are often seen in search of small mammals. Large red deer herds that graze in the open fields are mute witnesses of their hunting manoeuvres.
The marshes normally have accumulated by January a good level of water, offering shelter and food a great amount of waders such as lapwings, shanks, plovers and ruffs. Swimming species like coot, pintail, shoveller, teal and goose also abound. Livestock fencing in the Park are often use as perching place by common buzzards, red kites and our Spanish imperial eagle while merlins, peregrines and griffon vultures seat normally on the floor or on top of small bushes.
Flocks of flamingos concentrate at Caño Guadiamar and around José Antonio Valverde Visitor Centre, along with spoonbills, herons, egrets, grebes and pochards. Ospreys are often seen perched on pylons in the area.
A bit further east, in the Aznalcazar dry marshes and farmland near the Park, we find large flocks of common cranes and small groups of fallow deer well camouflaged in the vegetation. Large concentrations of calandra larks and corn buntings fly over the cereal fields where, with a bit of luck, it is possible to find short-eared owls and stone curlews.
To the north, the Isla Mayor Rice Fields, also attract in winter time a large amount of birds. Large flocks of ibis, gulls, white storks and cattle egrets still use the harvested fields to feed. Grey herons, little egrets and black storks are also usual sightings. In the shallow waters of some fields we find huge flocks of waders like lapwings, redshanks, greenshanks, ringed plovers and stints. In the ditches sandpipers and kingfishers are common and with a bit of luck you may find one of our gorgeous blue throats.
January is a good time of year to try two of the emblems of the Doñana National Park, the scarce Iberian lynx and the impressive Spanish imperial eagle.
In summary, Doñana offers great opportunities to enjoy a day out in nature now in January.
You may come across some rain during your visit to Doñana but normally it will not stop you to have a good day out although is advisable to bring some waterproof clothes.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License