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Thursday, December 5, 2013

El Rocio, Donana .... still a place for cowboys and the mad Spanglais birders!

Ok so I've been travelling through Extramadura, wonderful place and more in a post or two, but the thing is since I lost all satnav capability its actually been more fun .... almost forgotten how good it is to study a map, figure out where you have to go and well .. just go! Certainly it makes take note of where you're goin!

Hotel Cristina, El Rocio

I rested up in El Rocio for 4 days in total but made good use of my excellent base at the Hotel Cristina (its a place I know well ... stayed there a few times over the years with me old mucker n birdin pal, Mark). Nothing much changed thank goodness, still a cowboy town ... I took a few pics but El Rocio is a well photographed place. Here's my pad for 2 of the nights I spent there...

..... and here's a pic of a super helpful and nice lady on the staff - Nicoletta, who very kindly removed my filthy clothes from the bottom of the shower where I'd left them, fully intending to do something with them until found by said lady whilst I was out birdin ... she took the lot and they were washed, dried and ironed on my return ..... felt a bit guilty on my return, bit like a naughty schoolboy (man I had pants and 5 day old socks in there!) ... but of course very grateful!
Nicoletta .... she washed all these clothes for me!
El Rocio

Check out any photo base site for pics of El Rocio or better still go there .... its real cowboy, there's saddle shops, flamenco boutiques, sandy roads and yes hombres riding around on horses!

Above all, it's a super base for exploring the Donana national nature reserve, and although I did get a bit lazy down here I still did ok. As well as the superb and possibly best waterfront walk in Europe in El Rocio itself, there's a variety of access points to Donana itself such as Acebuche and Rocina, both of which I popped into, but my most profitable day down here was a new site to me ... the Jose Valverde reserve nr Villamanrique. Got some cracking pics on the day I spent around there. I met some Spanish birders who told me there was Pallid Harrier knocking about and a Lesser Spotted Eagle too. Not a sight of either of course but I did get reasonable views of Black Shouldered Kite and all the usual wetland birds including another good Bluethroat pic.... all of which you'll have to wait for because I'm sitting in a bar having forgotten the memory card from the good camera so these pics from the Iphone will have to do!

Here's some good Autumn trees at Rocina, nr El Rocio

and one of my hotel room with gear and stuff!!

Extramadura next and promise to post pics of Donana too in next post (there's some good uns) ....but for now I'm getting kicked out of a bar in Zafra so toodle pip my friends. On my way back up North now!

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