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The Ebro Delta (1/2 day)

Tour leaders: Iben Hove Sørensen & Cristian Jensen Marcet

Tour members: Francesco Castelli & Michelle Bühlmann

74 bird species recorded

Trip report written by Iben Hove Sørensen

Sunday August 6th 2006

Waking up to yet another sunny day in the Ebro Delta, we headed out for a morning of birdwatching in the southern part of the delta. As Michelle and Francesco were staying in the village of Eucaliptus, we started off in the nearby organic rice fields of Riet Vell. Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, and Curlew Sandpiper, were present among the usual Black-winged Stilts and numerous Black-headed Gulls, and we stayed for a while observing them as they were foraging in the early morning light.

From Riet Vell we continued on towards the lagoon of Alfacada, and on the way we stopped at an experimental field which is currently empty of crops. The field was practically swarming with shorebirds, and the first scanning of the field was almost stressfull - carefully checking out each bird is not always easily combined with the desire to scan for anything unusual, particularly as several American vagrants have been seen in the delta this summer! In addition to the species encountered in Riet Vell, this site held Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Stint, and even a single Temminck's Stint. A couple of Marsh Sandpipers were foraging alongside the varicoloured groups of Ruffs in the field, and Curlew Sandpipers in all shades of red were interspersed between the numerous other shorebirds. A group of Glossy Ibis passed overhead, and Purple and Grey Herons were foraging in the surrounding rice fields. After watching the spectacle for a while, Iben suddenly discovered an unusual bird next to a couple of male Ruffs. Smaller, with paler legs and a distinctly striped breast; the Pectoral Sandpiper was still to be found in the delta! A great surprise for Francesco, who wasn't aware that a Pectoral Sandpiper was around, and a new species for Iben, who had so far managed to miss this bird on numerous birding trips.

We went on to the tower at Alfacada in high spirits. One of the first birds entering our field of view was a Great Cormorant passing the observatory, from where we also had great views of Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, and Little Bittern. Whiskered Terns were hunting elegantly over the channel along with Barn Swallows and Sand Martins, and several groups of Black Terns were passing by the beach. Purple Gallinules followed by their large and long-legged offspring were demonstrating their foraging techniques, and a Kingfisher was calling repeatedly from its hiding place somewhere below the observatory.

On the other side of the channel, in Illa de Buda, a group of Flamingos added a touch of pink to the drab colours of the numerous moulting ducks foraging in the lagoon. The first Greylag Goose of the season had settled down on the island, and the Ruddy Shelduck seen since the 28th of July was also still present. Yellow Wagtails occupied every little bush, and a group of Avocet were foraging in the shallow water. An adult Mediterranean Gull in winter plumage testified to the fact that summer is coming to an end, but nevertheless we were happy to see it.

Our next stop was at Pont del Través, where we encountered both Little and Great Crested Grebes with chicks. Although relatively common to most birders, the sight of a Little Grebe feeding an even smaller one is always worth an extra few minutes. Some Red-crested Pochards slowly paddled along, and large groups of Coots were starting to form in the open areas of the lagoons of Encanyissada and El Clot.

Our last stops were around the salty lagoon called La Tancada. Here, we added Slender-billed Gull, Sandwich Tern, and Lesser Short-toed Lark to our list, and we also had superb views of Avocets with their young at close range. Just before lunchtime we called it a day and agreed to meet again soon.

Thanks to Francesco and Michelle for a great morning. See you soon.

Species list

  • 1. Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
  • 2. Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • 3. Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
  • 4. Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
  • 5. Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
  • 6. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
  • 7. Great Egret - Egretta alba
  • 8. Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
  • 9. Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
  • 10. Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
  • 11. Little Bittern - Ixobrychus minutus
  • 12. Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
  • 13. Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
  • 14. Greylag Goose - Anser anser
  • 15. Ruddy Shelduck - Tadorna ferruginea
  • 16. Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
  • 17. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
  • 18. Garganey - Anas querquedula
  • 19. Common Teal - Anas crecca
  • 20. Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  • 21. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
  • 22. Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
  • 23. Common Coot - Fulica atra
  • 24. Purple Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio
  • 25. Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
  • 26. Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
  • 27. Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
  • 28. Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  • 29. Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
  • 30. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
  • 31. Dunlin - Calidris alpina
  • 32. Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
  • 33. Little Stint - Calidris minuta
  • 34. Temminck's Stint - Calidris temminckii
  • 35. Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
  • 36. Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
  • 37. Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
  • 38. Marsh Sandpiper - Tringa stagnatilis
  • 39. Common Sandpiper - Tringa hypoleucos
  • 40. Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • 41. Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
  • 42. Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  • 43. Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
  • 44. Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
  • 45. Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
  • 46. Mediterranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
  • 47. Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
  • 48. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  • 49. Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii
  • 50. Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
  • 51. Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
  • 52. Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
  • 53. Little Tern - Sterna albifrons
  • 54. Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
  • 55. Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybridus
  • 56. Feral Pigeon - Columba livia feral
  • 57. Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  • 58. European Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
  • 59. Common Swift - Apus apus
  • 60. Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
  • 61. European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
  • 62. Skylark - Alauda arvensis
  • 63. Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
  • 64. Lesser Short-toed Lark - Calandrella rufescens
  • 65. Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
  • 66. Northern House Martin - Delichon urbica
  • 67. Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
  • 68. Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
  • 69. Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • 70. Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
  • 71. Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
  • 72. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
  • 73. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
  • 74. Common Starling - Sturnus vulgaris


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