In November we set off on a bird drive with our friends Angus and Elaine. Near the Valverde visitor centre at the northern end of the Coto Doñana National Park we stopped to have a picnic by the shore of a small lagoon. We enjoyed home-cooked chicken, meatballs, tortilla, coleslaw and cheese and, when he finished, Mick put his plate down on the ground. A few minutes later we heard rustling in the reeds. A little pink nose appeared, twitching as it sniffed the air, closely followed by the rest of a cute little mouse. The mouse made a beeline towards Mick’s plate and we all wondered what it would most like to eat - the bets were on cheese or salad? But no, the mouse went straight for a chicken thighbone, which was much bigger than the mouse itself! With one mighty effort it dragged the bone off into the reeds, leaving us astonished by the sight of a carrion-feeding mouse! We were watching the carnivorous mouse nibbling the last shreds off the bone deep in the cover of the reeds, when a second mouse appeared and with loud squeaks the two started fighting over the bone. Eventually, the winning mouse returned and went straight for a piece of cheese we had put out as “dessert". This time we got a photo of the mighty mouse, but we wished we had been ready with the camera when it took the bone!
Bird-wise there were large flocks of greylag geese that had already arrived from their summer haunts in northern Europe.
And after some waiting we also managed to see some cranes. November is still rather early and it’s only the early birds that have arrived in southern Spain by that time. Unfortunately, most were rather inconsiderate and flew past against the light...
We had a good sighting of another local speciality - a black-shouldered kite. Although not clearly visible in these photos, they have piercing orange-red eyes.
Other highlights included short-toed eagle, osprey, black stork and purple gallinule. Another mammal sighting rounded off the trip: a hare, an unusual species to see at that end of Doñana.
But the "sighting of the day” was undoubtedly the mighty mouse, which had charmed us all with its cuteness and the strength of a little giant!