The Ebro delta is the most important wetland area on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, and the second largest in the Iberian Peninsula. It is situated 200 km southwest of Barcelona as an extensive, flat marsh area at the mouth of the river Ebro. The delta is formed by sediments transported seawards by the river, a process which began hundreds of years ago and still continues to change the shape and appearance of the land.
The delta contains several natural habitat types such as lagoons of varying salinity and depth, dunes, shallow beaches and bays, as well as the river and its riparian woodlands. However, the delta is dominated by human activities, and the vast majority of the land is used for agricultural purposes. Rice fields are dominating, but the delta also contains small fruit plantations and salt pans, all adding to the delta’s diversity.
The Ebro delta was classified as a wetland area of international interest by Bureau Mar in 1962, and part of the delta (7 736 Ha) was given status of Natural Park in 1986. Within the park are several special reserves where human activities are particularly restricted. In 1993, the full extension of the delta (32 000 Ha) was added to the RAMSAR areas and is now listed as a ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection). However, hunting is still allowed in most parts of the delta.
Day trips and half-day trips can be arranged at any time of the year. Please contact us for more information and bookings. Our prices for guidings in our local area start at 60 € for half a day and 120 € for a whole day of birdwatching. The price per person decreases as more people join the trip, and at four or more participants the price is only 40 € per person for a full day of birdwatching. When booking, please specify whether you would like to share costs and guide with others or not. Lunches, long-distance pick-ups and other services are not included but can be arranged on request.
The Ebro Delta attracts millions of birds throughout the year and is well worth a visit at any time of the year.
Breeding birds and their offspring dominate the area during the summer months, offering close views of parental behaviour as thousands of shorebirds, gulls and terns raise their chicks in the relatively open areas. One of the few breeding colonies of Greater Flamingo in the Mediterranean region is situated in the southern part of the delta, as is the World’s most important breeding colony of the rare and beautiful Audouin’s Gull. Big colonies of Common, Sandwich and Gull-billed Terns are found mainly in the northern part of the delta. The delta also holds large breeding populations of Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Little Bittern, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Red-crested Pochard, Purple Gallinule, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Collared Pratincole, Avocet, Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt. Great White Egret and Glossy Ibis are also breeding here, although in lower numbers. The passerines of the delta are less conspicuous, but always present. Apart from the more common species - such as Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Zitting Cisticola - Savi’s Warbler, Moustached Warbler and Reed Bunting (ssp. witherbyi) can also be found in the extensive reed beds, whereas several species of larks can be found in the more open areas. Crested Lark, Lesser and Greater Short-toed Lark and Skylark are commonly encountered here. In the riparian woodlands species like Penduline Tit and Scops Owl are often found.
The winter months are partly dominated by a whole new set of birds, although several of the breeding birds remain in the delta throughout the winter. The area holds big wintering populations of Mediterranean Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Starling and Spotless Starling. Other interesting winter visitors include Great Cormorant, Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Booted Eagle, Merlin, Lapwing, Short-eared Owl, Water Pipit, Richard’s Pipit (rare), Bluethroat, Black Redstart, and several species of ducks and shorebirds. Yelkouan and Balearic Shearwaters can be seen from the coast throughout the winter, and some Arctic Divers usually remain close to the coast.
CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT BIRD SIGHTINGS FOR THE YEARS 2008, 2007, AND 2006
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR PHOTO GALERY FROM THE EBRO DELTA
Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Kestrel, Water Rail, Red-knobbed Coot, Purple Swamphen, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Skylark, Crested Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti’s Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Penduline Tit, Starling, Spotless Starling, and Reed Bunting (including the very rare witherbyi subspecies).
Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Montagu’s Harrier, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Audouin’s Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, Scops Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Common Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Greater Short-toed Lark, Savi’s Warbler, and Great Reed Warbler.
Arctic Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Yelkouan Shearwater, Great Cormorant, Bittern, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-breasted Merganser, several species of shorebirds, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Mediterranean Gull, Short-eared Owl, Kingfisher, Water Pipit, Richard’s Pipit, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, and Dartford Warbler.
SPECIES SEEN ON MIGRATION:
Eurasian Spoonbill, Garganey, Dotterel, Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Ruff, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Marsh Sandpiper, Roller, Subalpine Warbler, Willow Warbler, and Woodchat Shrike.
The delta is easily reached both by car and by train; count on roughly two hours driving from Barcelona/Valencia/Lleida and one hour from Tarragona/Castellón. Please note that the Ebro Delta is a very flat area without many references and a complicated road network, so it is easy for new visitors to lose the orientation. Road indications to the most important spots have recently been added, yet it is still difficult to find the right way.
El Fangar and Punta la Banya are both very important nesting places for birds, and access during the breeding season is highly restricted. You are not allowed to enter the delimited areas and should respect this at all times. Following big storms the sand strips leading to el Fangar and la Banya may break, or conditions may inhibit you from going there with a normal car.
Most of the photographs on this page belong to Juan Gil. A wider selection of his photos can be seen by clicking HERE.
The Ebro Delta holds several good options for all categories of accommodation, and the restaurants of the area serve a wide variety of food - often based on locally caught fish and shellfish. This is a list of the ones we recommend.
Camping Eucaliptus - situated in the village of Eucaliptus near the beach
La Tancada Camping - a camp site in the middle of the delta, with easy access to good birding areas
Masia Tinet - built in 1948, this restored farmhouse near Deltebre offers quality food and accommodation in a homely atmosphere
Casa Ribera Cottage - beautiful holiday home with gardens on the bank of the River Ebro near Tortosa
Holiday Homes in Riumar - a wide range of family homes for rent in Riumar
La Barraca de Salvador - self-catered, traditionally built cottages for up to 14 people, close to Deltebre
TopRural - directory of rural cottages in Tarragona province
Delta Hotel - three star hotel in the northern part of the delta, close to Deltebre
Hotel Montsia - two star hotel in Amposta
Hotel Rull - four star hotel in Deltebre
Hotel l'Algadir del Delta - a comfortable and peaceful hotel in the village of Poblenou
Juanito Platja - a charming beach hotel in Sant Carles de la Ràpita
Hotel del Port - newly opened modern three star hotel in Sant Carles de la Ràpita
La Roca Plana - inviting two star hotel on the waterfront in L'Ampolla
Llansola - two star hotel in Sant Carles de la Ràpita
Meditterani Blau - two star hotel in Eucaliptus, within walking distance of good birding sites
Parador de Tortosa - four star hotel in the city of Tortosa; situated in a Moorish castle dating back to the 10th Century
Can Machino - situated in the small village of Els Muntells
La Tancada - situated in the southern part of the delta, near Poblenou
Llansola - situated in Sant Carles de la Ràpita
PLEASE NOTE: We are happy to help our birding clients book these facilities, but we are not working as a general booking agency.
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