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Whiskered Terns - © Juan Gil

The Ebro Delta (1 day)

Group leaders: Iben Hove Sørensen & Cristian Jensen

Group member: Clausjannic Labuz

84 bird species recorded

Trip report written by Iben Hove Sørensen

Sunday July 9th 2006

This one-day birding trip in the Ebro Delta was yet another testimonial to the area's year-round birding qualities. In the crazy summer heat, Clausjannic arrived with his family, and - despite the high temperatures and the baking sun - he was determined to get out and photograph some of the birds in the delta. A total of 84 species were recorded during the day, and several of them were actually caught in very good photos!

Apart from Squacco Heron and Little and Cattle Egrets, which are abundant in the rice fields, our first bird of the day was nothing less than a Scops Owl spotted at its roosting site by the river. After this first encounter, we went on to the observatory at l'Alfacada, where Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret were numerous. A group of six Marsh Sandpipers were foraging in the low lagoon of Illa de Buda, where Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, and Spotted Redshank were also spending the morning.

Signs of a stir in the shorebirds of northern Europe are becoming evident in the delta, and we recorded the first Lapwings of the season along with Curlew, Whimbrel, Green and Wood Sandpipers, and large numbers of Little Ringed Plover. The reedbeds at El Clot proved to be teeming with Little Bittern, and Kingfisher, Penduline Tit, Savi's Warbler and Reed Bunting (ssp. witherbyi) also showed up in the midday heat. While the Purple Gallinules were posing for the camera, the Purple Herons seemed to take off at the slightest release of the car's accelerator, and despite their ubiquity it was hard work to find a suitable subject for a photograph.

At Pont del Través we experienced the drama of the day, as three Black-headed Gulls successfully hunted the ducklings of a Red-crested Pochard. She started out with four youngsters and was left with just two, whereas the young gull learned a lesson and earned a meal. Tough stuff, but a regular happening in the life of a delta duck. The many channels of the area provide herons and gulls with easy prey during the breeding season, as the steep edges in most places prevent the ducklings from escaping.

After lunch we headed for the northern part of the delta, where we encountered numerous Gull-billed Terns with their chicks. The Gull-bills were resting alongside Little, Common, and Whiskered Terns, making comparison easy, and plenty of Great Reed Warblers were singing all around us. Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Grey Plover, and Bar-tailed Godwit, were foraging in the bay, and in the dense vegetation we had the opportunity to study the two local subspecies of Yellow Wagtail; iberiae and cinereocapilla.

On our way through the rice fields, we spotted a Little Owl hiding between the tiles of a broken roof; staying out in the open just long enough for us to enjoy its sleepy appearance. A group of Collared Pratincole was seen close-up at the Encanyissada, where large chicks and adults seemed to be socialising more than anything. The last half hour before dinner was spent hunting for larks in the salty vegetation at la Tancada. Crested Lark and Skylark were the most abundant, yet with a bit of patience both Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks showed up. The last sighting of the day was a flock of Whimbrel crossing the rosy sky, disappearing somewhere over the Tancada lagoon.


Bird list

  • Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
  • Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
  • Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
  • Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
  • Great Egret - Egretta alba
  • Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
  • Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
  • Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Little Bittern - Ixobrychus minutus
  • Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
  • Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
  • Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
  • Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
  • Gadwall - Anas strepera
  • Common Teal - Anas crecca
  • Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
  • Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
  • Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
  • Common Coot - Fulica atra
  • Purple Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio
  • Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
  • Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
  • Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
  • Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
  • Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
  • Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
  • Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
  • Little Stint - Calidris minuta
  • Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
  • Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
  • Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
  • Marsh Sandpiper - Tringa stagnatilis
  • Common Sandpiper - Tringa hypoleucos
  • Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
  • Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
  • Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
  • Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
  • Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
  • Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
  • Collared Pratincole - Glareola pratincola
  • Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
  • Mediterranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
  • Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  • Audouin's Gull - Larus audouinii
  • Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
  • Gull-billed Tern - Sterna nilotica
  • Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
  • Little Tern - Sterna albifrons
  • Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
  • Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybridus
  • Feral Pigeon - Columba livia feral
  • Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  • Eurasian Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
  • Common Scops Owl - Otus scops
  • Little Owl - Athene noctua
  • Common Swift - Apus apus
  • Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
  • Hoopoe - Upupa epops
  • Skylark - Alauda arvensis
  • Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
  • Greater Short-toed Lark - Calandrella brachydactyla
  • Lesser Short-toed Lark - Calandrella rufescens
  • Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
  • Northern House Martin - Delichon urbica
  • Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
  • Savi's Warbler - Locustella luscinioides
  • Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
  • Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
  • Blackbird - Turdus merula
  • Eurasian Penduline Tit - Remiz pendulinus
  • Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
  • House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
  • Common Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
  • Spotless Starling - Sturnus unicolor
  • European Serin - Serinus serinus
  • European Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris
  • Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus


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