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The Ebro Delta (1 day)

Tour leaders: Iben Hove Sørensen & Cristian Jensen Marcet

Tour members: Roshni, Tina & Martin Timms

85 bird species recorded

Trip report written by Iben Hove Sørensen

Friday August 18th 2006

We met at the train station in L'Ampolla and headed straight for the nearby lagoon of Les Olles. Hardly out of L'Ampolla, we noticed our first Squacco Heron, and the elegant Whiskered Terns were all out looking for their first meal of the day. As we stopped at the lagoon we were surrounded by birds, and both Moustached and Cetti's Warblers were singing in the reedbeds. Both these species are much more numerous in the delta in winter, and this was indeed just the first of a number of indications that winter is approaching rapidly - however weird it does seem at almost 30ºC! The next winter visitors passed us at high speed and with shrill, high-pitched calls; a pair of Kingfishers made their way along the channel. Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Savi's Warbler, and Great Reed Warbler (one of the indications that summer is not yet over!) were all actively foraging around the path, and a single Hen Harrier was seen gliding over Les Olles.

Although the water level was rather high (considering the lack of tidal movements in the Mediterranean), we encountered numerous shorebirds along the Fangar Bay. Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Dunlin were resting on the mudflats, and a group of Flamingos were present in the shallow water of the bay. A single Whimbrel was spotted in the distance, and a mixed group of Pallid and Common Swifts were circling overhead. Little Terns were hunting over the bay, where Slender-billed and Black-headed Gulls lay rocking on the subtle waves.

A coffee break and numerous Little Egrets later, we found ourselves at the Garxal hide. Here, the egrets included Great White for easy comparison, and the shallow water appeared to hold fish of a very impressive size. After checking all the coots and ducks for any unusual visitors, our attention was attracted by a fast-moving shorebird flying past on the other side of the lagoon. The flash of a white rump, a glimpse of reddish brown wings - the Collared Pratincoles hadn't all left after all! Whilst following the pratincole, a second white rump entered our field of view and stole the limelight; a Montagu's Harrier went in for a morning roost in the reedbeds surrounding the lagoon. Luckily a second pratincole soon appeared; this was one of the few species that Martin and Tina had particularly wanted to see.

After lunch we headed for the currently best field for shorebirds in the delta. An incredible variety of birds seem to forage continuously in this field, and we were not disappointed. Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, and Temminck's Stint, were interspersed with the more numerous Ruff and Black-winged Stilt, and a large group of Black-tailed Godwit stood quietly in the opposite end of the field. One of them was marked with a number of colour rings matching the codes currently used in the Netherlands, so now we are waiting for news on the origin of this individual. Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, and Green Sandpiper, all added to the diversity of the scene, and with a bit of patience a few of both Common Snipe and Lapwing could also be found near the edges of the field. A single Shelduck was also present, seeming huge and slightly out of place among all the sandpipers and stints.

At the tower of Migjorn we finally encountered a group of Glossy Ibis. This species is rather unpredictable at this time of year, as they tend to form large groups which forage together at seemingly random sites, so we were happy to find them. Little Bittern had already been added to our list, but at Migjorn we had the chance to really enjoy this beautiful little heron - a male stopped on a large branch on the other side of the channel, and he stayed out in the open long enough for everyone to have a good look. In Illa de Buda we saw Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Purple Gallinule, and Mediterranean Gull, but there was no sign of the Ruddy Shelduck present earlier this month -  perhaps it has moved into the central part of the island!?

Although the departure of the train was rapidly approaching, we decided to go to Pont del Través to finish the day. Little and Great Crested Grebes were present in the small channels surrounding El Clot, and Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, and Gadwall were found in the lagoon itself. As we made our way out of the delta, we saw a Common Kestrel to finish off our day list and land us on a total of 85 species. We said our goodbyes at the train station of L'Aldea and agreed to meet again somewhere, sometime.

Thanks for a great trip to Roshni, Tina & Martin!

Comments from Martin

As you know we decided to combine our family holiday to the Costa Dorada with a couple of days in Barcelona and a day trip to the Ebro Delta. This was all easily achieved by train from our home base up the coast and catered well for our mixed family interests of theme parks and water parks, cultural sites and birdwatching. I did think about doing the birdwatching myself by hire car but eventually settled on putting my hand in my pocket and having the added relaxation of yourself and Cristian undertaking all the hard work for us. We couldn't wish to have met a a nicer couple for our day out and I was so impressed with your passion and knowledge for the birds and conservation in the delta. Many thanks for your flexible approach - I know nothing would have been too much trouble for you. We saw 80 plus bird species which is probably about 30 more than I would have achieved myself and for me it was the most relaxing day of the entire holiday. And you were both great company too - I enjoyed the conversation just as much as the birdwatching.

Bird 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. Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
  • 15. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
  • 16. Gadwall - Anas strepera
  • 17. Common Teal - Anas crecca
  • 18. Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  • 19. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
  • 20. Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
  • 21. Hen Harrier - Circus cyaneus
  • 22. Montagu's Harrier - Circus pygargus
  • 23. Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
  • 24. Common Coot - Fulica atra
  • 25. Purple Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio
  • 26. Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
  • 27. Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
  • 28. Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  • 29. Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
  • 30. Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
  • 31. Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
  • 32. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
  • 33. Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 34. Dunlin - Calidris alpina
  • 35. Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
  • 36. Little Stint - Calidris minuta
  • 37. Temminck's Stint - Calidris temminckii
  • 38. Sanderling - Calidris alba
  • 39. Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
  • 40. Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
  • 41. Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
  • 42. Common Sandpiper - Tringa hypoleucos
  • 43. Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • 44. Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
  • 45. Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  • 46. Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
  • 47. Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
  • 48. Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
  • 49. Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
  • 50. Collared Pratincole - Glareola pratincola
  • 51. Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
  • 52. Mediterranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
  • 53. Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
  • 54. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  • 55. Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii
  • 56. Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
  • 57. Gull-billed Tern - Sterna nilotica
  • 58. Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
  • 59. Little Tern - Sterna albifrons
  • 60. Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
  • 61. Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybridus
  • 62. Feral Pigeon - Columba livia feral
  • 63. Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  • 64. Common Swift - Apus apus
  • 65. Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus
  • 66. Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
  • 67. European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
  • 68. Hoopoe - Upupa epops
  • 69. Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
  • 70. Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
  • 71. House Martin - Delichon urbica
  • 72. Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
  • 73. Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
  • 74. Savi's Warbler - Locustella luscinioides
  • 75. Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
  • 76. Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • 77. Moustached Warbler - Acrocephalus melanopogon
  • 78. Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
  • 79. Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
  • 80. Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
  • 81. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
  • 82. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
  • 83. Common Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
  • 84. European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
  • 85. European Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris


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