As our plan for the day was to explore the main lagoons south of the River Ebro, our first step was to take a ferry across the river. We arrived at the ferry terminal - a patch of waste ground at the end of a small backstreet - and could see the ferry moored on the opposite bank. When we asked a passerby if there was a schedule of crossings, he told us that the boat would come as soon as the ferryman noticed us waiting. Sure enough, a few minutes later the boat started heading our way. A simple but effective system!
Our first destination was Riet Vell, a rice cooperative which is also a prime birding site. However, we couldn't resist stopping when we noticed a group of egrets on the strip of earth between two flooded rice fields.
As soon as we got out of the car, we realized that the further field was absolutely full of birds - Black-headed Gulls, Gray Herons and Great White, Cattle and Little Egrets.
My daughter was thrilled because Gray Herons are her favorite bird and the field had an unbelievable number of them. I counted to 80 before I gave up and started just enjoying the spectacle.
On our walk back to the car, our pleasure was reduced a little by seeing a dead dog floating along in the roadside ditch.
At Riet Vell we were surprised to find it difficult to squeeze into the informal parking lot. Not only is the farm normally a popular place for weekend family outings, but on this day it was also hosting a mini birding festival.
On the way to the birding hide, we stopped to watch a demonstration of old-style rice farming. It looked like hard work for both the farmer and his horse.
When we reached the bird hide, I was disappointed to see that the only visible birds were egrets and coots, and even these were quite a distance away. However, a nearby field had several Purple Gallinules, birds that we're used to seeing in southeast Texas every summer. There were several Wagtails, too, and these were less shy. Unlike all the many Wagtails we had seen earlier, these were Pied Wagtails, a new species for me and a very striking bird.
Then it was back into the car and off to La Tancada, a large lagoon where we were hoping to see the Ebro Delta's most famous bird, the Flamingo. I wasn't feeling very optimistic: So far, we had seen very few species on the trip and most of those had been too far away to watch without a scope and tripod. (And, of course, I hadn't brought a scope with me!)