Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ebro Delta: Day 2


As on the previous day, I was up and out of the hotel at dawn. This time my goal was the Lo Garxal reserve. This contains the smallest of the delta’s lagoons and is situated right next to where the main part of the River Ebro reaches the sea. You approach the lagoon via the small resort town of Riumar, where the riverside road is lined with restaurants, souvenir shops and all sizes of pleasure boats.

Like other reserves in the delta, this one featured stunning marshland scenery.

It also had the largest wildlife viewing tower that I’ve ever seen.

The lagoon itself, which was equipped with a nice bird hide, was disappointing: The only birds that were visible without a scope were Coots and even these kept their distance. Then I got lucky and spotted a Little Grebe, a new bird for me.

A Marsh Harrier flew over the hide,as did a few Cormorants, but I was too slow to get any photos.

I spent the next hour working hard to see, ID and photograph some small birds that were flitting around in the reeds, grasses and bushes. In the end, I was lucky enough to spot two more new birds: Stonechat and Reed Bunting.

Most of the other birds seemed to be Chiffchaffs, surely the most common small songbird in Catalonia.


On the way back to the hotel, I stopped a few times to check out birds by the roadside. Starlings were common in trees and in the rice fields.

More interesting were a Little Egret and a Black-headed Gull perched on utility wires,

Little Egret

Black-headed Gull

and then a Yellow-legged Gull in a rice field.

After another very good breakfast in the Hotel Delta, we all packed up and started our drive back to Barcelona, aiming to explore some beaches and have lunch on the way. We really wanted to see La Fangar, because the bay there is said to be excellent for birds.However, we somehow missed the road and ended up going to La Marquesa instead. The beach and the sea there were totally devoid of birds but we all enjoyed watching grandson Danny play in the sand.

La Marquesa

Our next stop was the restaurant next to the nature reserve at Olles. When we got there, a large sign promised “Open All Year,” while a smaller sign told us that the restaurant was closed for the month of November! At least the snack bar was open and so we stopped for cold drinks and chips. I took advantage of the break to prowl around. There were no birds along a nearby boardwalk but I was delighted to see a European Goldfinch hanging out with Chiffchaffs in some bushes.



As we were all getting hungry, we decided to head straight for the town of Ampolla. In flooded fields along the way, we saw more egrets, Gray Herons and Lapwings but I wasn’t allowed to stop to check more closely. However, when we saw a group of very large black and white birds in a distant field, I insisted on taking a quick look and a photo. White Storks!

We spent our last afternoon having lunch at a seaside restaurant in Ampollas.

The water a few hundred yards out was covered byrafts of floating birds. They were all too far away to ID but lots of Mediterranean Gulls flew overhead - another new bird for me. After that it was a high-speed drive to Barcelona and then to bed, so as to be ready for our morning flight back to the USA.


While waiting for our first flight, we had a good look at a Peregrine Falcon that flew past the terminal building. Hours later, at Newark Airport, we saw our final bird of the trip, a Red-tailed Hawk.



sharon said...

Nice photos Jeff, sounds like you saw quite a few new birds, congrats on the White Stork!

Birdwoman said...

Lovely scenery. Lovely birds. I especially like the storks.

Jeff said...

I wish I could have gotten closer to the Storks - but it was mainly a family vacation and when you travel with non-birders ...