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Audouin Birding Tours: Birdwatching in the Ebro Delta & Steppes of Belchite March 2006 - trip report




catalā - dansk - español - english

      



 
 
 

THE EBRO DELTA & STEPPES OF BELCHITE MARCH 2006


Flamingos

The Ebro Delta and the steppes of Belchite (2 days)

Tour leaders: Cristian Jensen Marcet & Iben Hove Sørensen

Group members: Kai & Maija Suomela

125 species recorded

Trip report written by Iben Hove Sørensen

 

Sunday March 26th - Day 1


Squacco Heron

Starting at the Tortosa parador, we made our way down the Ebro River towards the delta. The dry rice fields and channels of the Ebro Delta hold very few species at this time of year, so we went for a birding route that would include as many lagoons, ponds and coastal streches as possible. As we arrived at L'Ampolla, the first gulls seen at the beach included Audouin's, Yellow-legged, Mediterranean and Black-headed Gull. Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern and Marsh Harrier were flying overhead, and Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Squacco Heron were foraging in the fields and reedbeds.

Our first stop at a small marshland revealed a beautiful male Bluethroat, Reed Bunting, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, and a singing Sedge Warbler. A little further down the road we encountered Flamingo, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Black-winged Stilt, and several species of ducks in a small lagoon. Barn Swallows were hunting over the water as Common Snipe and Common Sandpiper were foraging in the muddy reed edges, and the last of the wintering Cormorants were getting ready to leave for their northern breeding grounds. A small pond held a group of Ruff, as well as several Snipe, Common Redshank and Green Sandpiper.

Fangar Bay held the usual large groups of waders and ducks, although the average group size had decreased markedly during the last couple of weeks. Dunlin, Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit were all numerous, and a little group of 5 Red Knot was mixed in with the plovers. Further along the track we found a group of Eurasian Curlew, and a couple of Oystercatchers were spotted on the far side of the bay.


Red-crested Pochard

From Fangar we headed for the Garxal lagoon, which held hundreds of Red-crested Pochard as well as a few Garganeys, Shovelers and Pintails. Redshank, Spotted Redshank, and Greenshank were foraging in the shallow lagoon, and Lesser Short-toed Lark and Skylark were singing high in the sky.

Before lunch, we crossed the river and went to the Riet Vell reserve. The lagoon was full of life, and held a very high number of Common Moorhen. Little Grebe, Purple Swamphen and Gadwall were actively foraging in and around the lagoon, whilst Reed Buntings and a single Tree Sparrow were rummaging in the reeds. A Purple Heron was seen flying in - perhaps just arrived from its southern winter quarters?

L'Aufacada was our picnic site of choice, and for quite a while we were in fact way too busy birdwatching to enjoy our sandwiches. Several Glossy Ibis were seen flying around the observatory, and groups of Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Purple Swamphen were foraging in the safe lagoon of the Buda Island. A couple of Temminck's Stint were feeding in the distant reedbeds, and a Shelduck was spotted among the Mallards and Shovelers in the channel separating Buda Island from the rest of the delta. A single Gannet was spotted over the sea.

As the day was coming to an end way too quickly, a short stop in a stretch of river forest resulted in great views of a Penduline Tit and its nest, as well as several Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers foraging in the treetops. A visit to an empty and ghostly looking farmhouse revealed resident Kestrel, Little Owl, and Barn Owl. The lagoon of El Clot was visited briefly, which resulted in the addition of Common Pochard to our list. From El Clot we headed for our next destination, the town of Alcaņiz, and we had a beautiful drive there as the sun was setting in a wealth of colours.

Monday March 27th - Day 2

We started out from Alcaņiz at 06.30 and headed straight for the good places for Dupont's Lark in the steppes of Belchite. As the sun rose we heard several individuals singing all around us, soon to be joined by the other inhabitants of the steppe; most notably Crested Lark, Calandra Lark and Lesser Short-toed Lark. The Dupont's Lark remained unseen, and after a while we decided to move on - pleased to have witnessed the presence of such a rare bird, yet slightly disappointed not to have seen it. In a small lagoon inside the reserve of El Planerķn we saw Grey Heron, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, and Green Sandpiper, all watched from above by a circling Marsh Harrier. Corn Buntings were singing from  every suitable post in the area, and Red-legged Partridge was frequently chased up from little ditches and edges of the green wheat fields.

Cruising the maze of fields and dirt tracks, we spotted several small groups of Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and as we approached the higher steppe areas we had our first encounter with Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. At this time of year the drinking places are of little value to the sandgrouse, as there is enough water available elsewhere, and it is therefore somewhat more difficult to localise them. A total of six Golden Eagle were seen in the area, as well as several Griffon Vulture, and we also spotted Egyptian Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, and a Sparrowhawk hunting low between the bushes.

After having lunch in Quinto we headed back to the steppes, and again we had several Dupont's Lark singing very close. Cristian was the only person who managed to see one, which illustrates the typical sighting of this species: It is at times a very difficult bird to share! We had very close views of Stone Curlew, Little Owl, Chough and Jackdaw, and a visit to the nearby village revealed a number of breeding White Stork in the church tower. A single Lesser Kestrel was circling above us - probably soon to be joined by several others. Linnet was the most frequent passerine apart from the larks, and several groups were seen in the weeds at the side of the road. The first Black-eared Wheatears had also arrived, and a few were seen in the low bushes.

On our way back to the main road, we had a close encounter with a very large Ocellated Lizard - a beautiful creature in amazing green and blue colours.

Back at the parador in Alcaņiz we were welcomed by a singing Blue Rock Thrush and several Crag Martins investigating the many nesting and roosting sites offered by the great old building. A beer and a last walk around the parador ended our little trip together, and we said our goodbyes in the hope to meet again - be it in Finland or Catalonia!

Thanks to Kai and Maija for a great couple of days, we enjoyed it very much.
Hope to see you again soon,

Cristian and Iben

Comments from Kai & Maija

Thank you for the two most interesting birding days in Spain. We very much enjoyed the trip and we really saw almost all the birds we had on our "list". However, you never see all the birds and this gives us an excellent reason to come back to Spain next year (or even earlier).

Bird list

  • 1. Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
  • 2. Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • 3. Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
  • 4. Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus
  • 5. Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
  • 6. Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
  • 7. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
  • 8. Great Egret - Egretta alba
  • 9. Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
  • 10. Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
  • 11. Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
  • 12. Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
  • 13. White Stork - Ciconia ciconia
  • 14. Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
  • 15. Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
  • 16. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
  • 17. Gadwall - Anas strepera
  • 18. Garganey - Anas querquedula
  • 19. Common Teal - Anas crecca
  • 20. Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
  • 21. Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  • 22. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
  • 23. Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
  • 24. Egyptian Vulture - Neophron percnopterus
  • 25. Eurasian Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
  • 26. Red Kite - Milvus milvus
  • 27. Black Kite - Milvus migrans
  • 28. Golden Eagle - Aquila chrysaetos
  • 29. Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
  • 30. Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
  • 31. Eurasian Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
  • 32. Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
  • 33. Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
  • 34. Lesser Kestrel - Falco naumanni
  • 35. Red-legged Partridge - Alectoris rufa
  • 36. Common Coot - Fulica atra
  • 37. Purple Swamphen - Porphyrula porphyrula
  • 38. Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
  • 39. Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
  • 40. Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
  • 41. Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
  • 42. Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  • 43. Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
  • 44. Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
  • 45. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
  • 46. Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 47. Dunlin - Calidris alpina
  • 48. Little Stint - Calidris minuta
  • 49. Temminck's Stint - Calidris temminckii
  • 50. Red Knot - Calidris canutus
  • 51. Sanderling - Calidris alba
  • 52. Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
  • 53. Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
  • 54. Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
  • 55. Common Sandpiper - Tringa hypoleucos
  • 56. Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • 57. Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
  • 58. Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  • 59. Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
  • 60. Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
  • 61. Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
  • 62. Stone Curlew - Burhinus oedicnemus
  • 63. Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
  • 64. Mediterranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
  • 65. Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
  • 66. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  • 67. Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii
  • 68. Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
  • 69. Gull-billed Tern - Sterna nilotica
  • 70. Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
  • 71. Caspian Tern - Sterna caspia
  • 72. Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybridus
  • 73. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse - Pterocles alchata
  • 74. Black-bellied Sandgrouse - Pterocles orientalis
  • 75. Feral Pigeon Columba livia feral
  • 76. Common Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
  • 77. Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  • 78. Ring-necked Parakeet - Psittacula krameri
  • 79. Barn Owl - Tyto alba
  • 80. Little Owl - Athene noctua
  • 81. Hoopoe - Upupa epops
  • 82. Calandra Lark - Melanocorypha calandra
  • 83. Skylark - Alauda arvensis
  • 84. Dupont’s Lark - Chersophilus duponti
  • 85. Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
  • 86. Thekla Lark - Galerida theklae
  • 87. Lesser Short-toed Lark - Calandrella rufescens
  • 88. Eurasian Crag Martin - Hirundo rupestris
  • 89. Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
  • 90. Northern House Martin - Delichon urbica
  • 91. Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
  • 92. Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
  • 93. Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
  • 94. White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
  • 95. Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
  • 96. Southern Grey Shrike - Lanius meridionalis
  • 97. Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
  • 98. Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
  • 99. Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
  • 100. Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
  • 101. Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochilus
  • 102. Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
  • 103. Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
  • 104. Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
  • 105. Common Redstart - Phoenicurus phoenicurus
  • 106. Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
  • 107. European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
  • 108. Bluethroat - Luscinia svecica
  • 109. Blackbird - Turdus merula
  • 110. Eurasian Penduline Tit - Remiz pendulinus
  • 111. Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
  • 112. Northern Raven - Corvus corax
  • 113. Carrion Crow - Corvus corone
  • 114. Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
  • 115. Red-billed Chough - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
  • 116. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
  • 117. Eurasian Tree-Sparrow - Passer montanus
  • 118. Common Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
  • 119. Spotless Starling - Sturnus unicolor
  • 120. European Serin - Serinus serinus
  • 121. European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
  • 122. European Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris
  • 123. Eurasian Linnet - Carduelis cannabina
  • 124. Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus
  • 125. Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra

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