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Ebro Delta / Delta de L’Ebre – Catalonia, Spain, Stephen Christopher

Catalan Bird tours

Stephen Christopher


The Delta de L'Ebre is like a moving tapestry of colour, spectacle and fantasy.  There's so much variety and abundance of species that when I first visited it I could barely sit still for fear - absolute fear - of missing something.

Birds were everywhere.  Cetti's, Savi's, Fan-tailed and Great Reed Warblers were competing for space on the tops of reed stems with Little Bittern of all things.  Meanwhile, on the lagoons behind them, Black necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard and a host of other ducks were apparently doing exactly the opposite and lazily rafting away the day, wisely allowing the magnificent Greater Flamingoes to lavish all the attention.

Although the diversity of herons for me will always symbolise the delta - all nine European species breed here – it’s the sea and shorebirds of which I have become most fond.

Swarms of migrant Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Marsh Sandpiper and Osprey all join the delta's very own Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Slender-billed Gull and the largest population of the world's rarest gull, the Audouin's Gull.

Some, such as Whiskered, Caspian, Gull-billed and even a few Lesser Crested Terns seem to dart and swerve their way directly into your notebook.  But others, such as Glossy Ibis, Spotted Crake and Purple Gallinule resist, skulking deep within the reeds themselves and a careful scan of the many clearings is needed to see them sneaking out, ever watchful of hunting Marsh Harriers.

These days, thankfully, experience affords me the luxury of touring my favourite spots, sitting calmly and allowing the birds to come to me.

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