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A Report from

La Pineda, Costa Dorada Spain May 26th-June 2nd 2009,

Derek Lister


This was a weeks holiday situated at La Pineda Costa Dorada (hotel Estival Park complex), primary for the family and Grand children, but birding on most days, with visits to key sights nearby. Although not recognised as a birding hotspot with Salou as a neighbour, La Pineda offered interesting birds very close to the hotel complex. We travelled with First choice to Reus airport, and rented a 9 seater mpv in advance from Auto 3000. The drive to the hotel Estival Park complex taking 20 minutes only. Apart from local birding, we travelled to the Ebre delta Parc natural reserve twice and into the hills at Salurana twice.


The hotel offers good all inclusive accommodation, with pools for the grandchildren to cool off in( temperature around 26-28C all week)birds present in the grounds included Serin,with small flocks of this species presenting close up views oppoisite the hotel entrance on a local golf course boundary. Spotless Starlings were very common in the general hotel area.



This is a super area within 10 minutes walk of the hotel complex. Although not ready accessible, the golf course does have a local nature reserve running along side it. The entrance to this is just north of the aqua park, where there is an obvious observation tower overlooking reed beds, tamarisk bushes and a narrow canal fringed by reeds. From the road squeeze around the fence and walk up the defined trail with the reed fringed canal on your right and an open lake running on the edge of the golf course on your left. The track takes you as far as the golf course border. Birds here included  Fan Tailed Warbler( very common),Great Reed Warbler,Savi’s Warbler,Hoopoe,Bee-eater,Turtle Dove,White Wagtail, and on the lake edges,Black winged Stilts,vSquacco heron, Little Egret and Grey Heron. The canal can be viewed at certain points, and Little Bittern, Purple Swamp hen were present. Look on the golf course greens for Green Woodpecker (sharpie sub species).The area has good potential for other species if you had limited time and stayed local to the hotel.


About 60 kilometres to the south there is the Ebre Delta, an outstanding area that could have taken up our whole week if we were just birding!,but we did visit it on two occasions, looking at the the North section(north of the canel) of the delta then the south section. It takes only about an hour from La Pineda on the AP 7, exiting at junction 39 for the North delta and on the second trip Junction 41 for the South delta.


Entering the delta via L’Ampolla  and heading to Jesus Marie you immediately  encounter  a labyrinth of rice growing pans. These pans are full assessable along made up tracks, but be carefull not to block them this is a busy working area. The rice pans typically hold waders like Kentish Plovers and some Little Ringed Plovers,the raised banks around the pans were very productive with Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret and Grey Heron common. Flying over the pans and landing often were large numbers of Whiskered Terns and Audoulins Gulls . In smaller numbers and often hunting over dryer patches of field were Gull Billed Terns. In smaller numbers, but conspicuous by size alone were a few Caspian Terns. Outstandingly however were the numbers of Glossy Ibis,with up to 40 seen feeding in the shallow water of the rice pans.Driving down to Garxal Laguna there were also many Cattle Egrets near to the road. Park in the car park at Parc Natural Garxal laguna,and walk to the first observation hide,in the sky were many Crested lark and on the dryer sandy patches Collared Pratincole hawked insects.Although the views can be a bit distant from hide,there were obviously large numbers of herons on the laguna,we counted at 14 Great White Egret, and about 20 Greater Flamingo.There were also many terns including Marsh Tern and Little Tern. You can swim at the beach at Platja de la Marquesa, with the bonus of birds like Avocet breeding at the back of the beach,a bonus here was also a insect catching male  Red Backed Shrike !


Many of the birds of this area were the same as the north delta,simply because the habitats are identical. However the laguna at Encanyissada is a must, if not just for the sight of many hundreds of Greater Flamingo flying over our heads!.Viewing the laguna from the elevated platforms gave close views of many Red Crested Pochard,Purple Swamp Hen,and close up Little Bitterns ! Also noted here was Marsh Harrier, and in the adjoining fields Iberian yellow wagtail and Tree Sparrow were evident


Lying to the north of Reus and about 45 minutes drive from Le pineda is the hill village of Salurana. It is a bout 1000 mtrs above sea level and has some spectacular cliffs around it. The area approaching Salurana has typical Spanish fields of vegetables, grape vines on the hill slopes and small valleys of natural vegetation. Typical birds of the fields and hill slopes were Whinchat, Woodlark, Subalpine, Sardinan warblers. And the small valleys held a profusion of Melodious and Cetti’s Warblers. The approaches to Salurana are are impressive for views, stop at regular points and listen, you will be sure to hear many Golden Orioles,and excellent views of this species were obtained as they perched out in the open. Also in these foothills were Woodchat Shrikes, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Cuckoo and overhead Red Rumped Swallow and Pallid Swift. Before entering Salurana village park on your right at the foot of the cliffs (sharp bend to your left). Observe the cliffs and rock face, here there is Crag Martin, Rock Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, and Raven. Walk on the visible track skirting the cliffs, birds here included Crested Tit, Orphean and Bonelli’s Warbler and Stock Dove . Salurana village is worth a visit on its own, standing on a rock face with fantastic views of the area and sheer drops close by!  The village has Black Redstart around the church and overhead Alpine Swift,this is a good raptor watch point,with Short Toed Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle and Peregrine giving distant views.                                                                                            


La Pineda isn’t a natural birding area if given the choice, but it is excellent family holiday spot,with the chance of seeing many Spanish birds close by, indeed a checklist of 102 species for the week would be very acceptable to any family birder who were holidaying in this area.

Bird List:

Derek Lister, June 2009

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