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Bird numbers peak in the Ebro Delta

The provisional analysis of the data from this winter’s waterbird count in the Ebro Delta suggests that the number of birds wintering in the delta has reached a new peak. Never before has Illa de Buda harboured so many wintering ducks, and never before have the flocks of shorebirds and coots been quite so large – at least not for the last 25 years! More than 338 000 birds were registered, and the guides from Audouin Birding Tours volunteered happily for two weeks of hard work and lots of counting!

Every year since 1972, the staff at the Ebro Delta Nature Park - usually assisted by local ornithologists - have carried out bird counts during the first half of January to assess the value of the delta as a wintering site for waterbirds. Bird numbers have always been high, but the results have never come out quite as impressive as this year’s. A total of 292 600 wintering waterbirds and more than 45 000 gulls were recorded, with record-breaking counts of both ducks and coots. Skulky birds such as Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, and Water Rail, are not included in the census as numbers are too great and impossible to assess this way. Mallard and Teal were the most numerous ducks with some 107 000 individuals between the two species (thus comprising more than half of the duck total), and no less than 32 000 Common Coot were present in the lagoons and bays of the delta this winter. Shorebirds were represented mainly by Lapwing and Dunlin and constituted almost a quarter of the recorded birds (more than 65 000 individuals!). Herons, egrets, and flamingos, were also counted by the thousands, and lower numbers of large birds such as Crane, White Stork, and Bittern, helped bring the species total up to almost 100 – without including any of the wintering passerines! – and once again demonstrate the importance and value of the Ebro Delta as a wintering site for a great variety of birds.

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