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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ebro days..dashing falcons, massing waders, ditches and shooters!

At 320 square kilometres, the Ebro Delta is one of the biggest wetland areas in the Western Mediterranean. Its a curiously shaped area due the twin effects of deposited soils washed down by the mighty Ebro and then coastal erosion.

Although designated as a natural park much of the area is given over to rice growing and the associated wet (flooded in winter) fields. Its definitely a 'working' environment but many birds are attracted to the rice fields and there are many areas of saltmarsh / lagoons and reed beds with copious tracks and irrigation canals everywhere .... it was great for the bike and although I got a bit fed up with the level of duck shooting going on I spent close on a full week there exploring.

Rice fields, Ebro Delta
From ground level this is fairly typical of the terrain......

As you might expect I took a bucket load of pics and although not totally overwhelmed by birds there was lots of scope for landscapes and plenty to keep me happy. No doubt I'll be finding other pics in the coming days as I revel in good internet / 'plug in access'  but for now these are some of my stand out images.....

Great White Egret, Ebro

Great White Egret, Ebro

Mediterranean Gull, Ebro

Mediterranean Gull, Ebro

It was good to see so many Mediterranean Gulls (made up for a big fat zero on Audouin's Gulls!) and the above fly past shots in good evening sunshine were very pleasing. Caught this one mid air as it was fishing ...
Med Gull fishing, Ebro Delta

Lots of these about, as one would expect almost anywhere in Spain ...
Stonechat, Ebro

.... and even more of these little blighters. I've remarked on it before but I'm constantly amazed at the sheer numbers of Chiff Chaffs that almost litter the paths, bushes and almost any insect laden little place ....
Chiffchaff, Ebro

Chiffchaff, Ebro
Not as many Bluethroats about as I expected but this one played my stalking game to a point ... 20 minutes crouched on a ditch bank with pins and needles and still she wouldn't come the side I wanted so here's a 'backlit' female getting her feet wet...
Bluethroat (female), Ebro
Lapwings and the usual herons / egrets aside, wading birds weren't exactly abundant, no Avocets, no Black Winged Stilts but both Common and Green Sandpipers were popping up frequently and I snapped this one from the van one lazy afternoon when I was so fed up with shooters I just drove to the nearest quiet wet field and watched the birds come and go for 2 hrs!
Common Sandpiper, Ebro

Common Sandpiper, Ebro

I managed a half decent shot of a flock of Greenshank
Greenshank flock, Ebro

Glossy Ibis flock, Ebro

A couple more numerous birds on the Delta were Glossy Ibis (I estimated between 800 - 1000) in total. Here's a flock taken with my mobile during an evening bike ride.

Glossy Ibis with food, Ebro
I had plenty of time of to observe these birds that have steadily increased in number over the years on the delta and at the risk of sounding like David Attenborough I realised that their life here is not straightforward - largely due to the equally large numbers of Black Headed Gulls that harry and chase the Ibis. Took me a while to twig but what they were doing was acting in pairs and forcing the Ibis to let go of food which the gulls then snapped up. Not brilliant pics but it shows the action that was going on time after time...


... this kind of thing was happening time and time again and I began to feel sorry for the poor Ibis but at the same time very impressed with the tenacity, persistence and eventual success of the B.H. Gulls tireless work!


Dunlin murmuration? Ebro
Even more numerous on the Southern side of the delta and towards the salt pans were Dunlin with a huge flock of certainly 1000+. Many pics I took as quite conveniently they were massing very near to where I was parked up.

 ...  this is where I was parked up along 3 others along the Trabucador (southern peninsular of the delta)
 With so many small waders about it wasn't surprising to catch up with a Peregrine Falcon but I didn't expect such good photo opportunities... this one was making good use of the pylons that stretch right down the peninsular and allowed
Peregrine Falcon, Ebro

Peregrine Falcon, Ebro

Peregrine Falcon, Ebro

Peregrine Falcon, Ebro
 I was well impressed with those pics and it made up for a very long and otherwise largely fruitless walk down to the saltpans.
Never far away though there's always a Marsh Harrier to snap ...
Marsh Harrier, Ebro
 ...and always good to get a bit of variety of the raptor front, this Booted Eagle had obviously just eaten - check out that bulge!
Booted Eagle, Ebro

Meadow Pipit .. commonest bird on the Ebro?
 Ok this has been a big post and apologies for that ... many I know won't have scrolled down this far but here's a few more birdy pics and some landscapes from my week on the delta...
My van from the viewing platform on the Ille de Budha
Squacco Heron from  distance and same viewing platform
Kindred spirits ... these trees are just about as laid back as me!

...and where did that come from?
one of the many canals that maintain and irrigate the delta
Spring flowers emerging... don't know what they are but they're common!

Just what the Ebro doesn't need!

Like I said, a bit too much shooting going on for me to completely enjoy the delta but hey I understand the dynamics and the need to take what is needed from this land but way too noisy at times for me!


1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Great blog. I think your common yellow Spring flowers are Bermuda buttercup, Oxalis pes-caprae, an invasive species native to South Africa. It's everywhere and our-competes native species.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.