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Emporda reserve in NE Spain

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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 19:02   #1
Tony Knight
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Emporda reserve in NE Spain

Has anyone been there ? I gather it is a pretty large reserve, can you recommend best part to visit esp with a chance of seeing lesser grey shrike/roller/golden oriole ?? I have also heard there is also a good site north of there for lesser grey shrike - can you advise where this is ??!
Other good sites within an hours drive ?? - I gather there are some good mini-mountains between Rosas and the French border but that the fullblown Pyrenees are a few more hours drive ?? So is Wallcreeper defintely out ??

I also need to be able to re-assure the rest for the family that the beaches nearby (rosas - San Pere Pescador area) are good for the cildren eg sufficient space, soft sand etc etc. can anyone re-assure me that I will not be lying !!

Also can you suggest a good place to base ourselves ie circa 10 mins drive from beaches but quiet and scenic ?? i am hoping to find a cheap Villa on the net and book cheap Ryanair flights for next June.

Thanks in advance
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 19:53   #2
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Aiguamolls de L'Emporda Spain



One of the best wetland areas in northeast coastal Spain, these marshes on the Bay of Roses are second only to the Ebro Delta. This site covers coastal marshlands around the mouths of the Muga and Fluvia rivers in Catalonia and includes freshwater pools, brackish lagoons and saltmarshes, sandy coastal areas, wet grassland, cultivated land and some riverine woodland. This range of habitats attracts a wide range of birds and about 300 species have been recorded here with nearly a hundred of these breeding. The area is now a Natural Park and Ramsar Site.
Regular here in small numbers is Great Bittern, a very rare breeding bird in Spain. Other members of the heron family to be seen here include Little Bittern, Cattle and Little Egrets, and Grey and Purple Herons. Greater Flamingo occurs on passage and there is a thriving and easily-seen reintroduced population of Purple Swamphen. White Stork has also been reintroduced. Garganey is a regular summer visitor and Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Stone-curlew breed. Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller and Hoopoe add colour and passerine breeders include Zitting Cisticola, Cetti’s, Savi's, Great Reed and Moustached Warblers and Penduline Tit. Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes breed here with Red-backed on passage and Southern Grey in winter.
In winter Black-throated Diver can be seen on the sea close by as well as Common and Velvet Scoters and Razorbill. Ducks of a variety of species occur in large numbers on the open water and marshes and Glossy Ibis is regular. Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl quarter the marshes in winter.
Recent rarities have included Paddyfield Warbler in April 2001 and Pallid Harrier in April 2003.
Mammals are few at Aiguamolls de L'Emporda but Polecat Mustela putorius and Water Vole Arvicola terrestris are common and Otter Lutra lutra and Fallow Deer Cervus dama have been reintroduced. Semi-wild Camargue horses can also be seen here. Reptiles are well-represented with notable species being Montpellier Snake Malpolon monspessulanus in the scrub, Three-toed Skink Chalcides chalcides on the sand-dunes and Spiny-footed Lizards Acanthodactylus erythrurus in rocky areas. Chelonians are also present with Hermann's Tortoise Testudo hermanni on scrub-covered slopes and Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica in streams and ponds. Stripeless Treefrog Hyla meridionalis and Marsh Frog Rana ridibunda are abundant
and highly vocal in the wetter areas.
The drier limestone areas are of great botanical interest with colourful species such as Orchis lactea, Tassel Hyacinth Muscari comosum and Yellow Corn Marigold Chrysanthemum segetum as well as the poisonous Henbane Hyoscyamus niger. The brackish marshes have the purple Iris spuria while the yellow Iris pseudacorus grows in freshwater areas.
The Aiguamolls de L'Emporda area lies on the Costa Brava and has been a Natural Park since 1983. It can be reached from the A7 or NII which both run between Barcelona and La Jonquera. Turn off on the Figuera exit and take the C260 to Rosas turning left between Castello d'Empuries and Sant Pedro Pescador to the signposted information centre. The Costa Brava coast has a vast number of hotels, hostels and guesthouses, apartments, villas and campsites for virtually its entire length and the most convenient for this site are in Castello d'Empuries or Sant Pere Pescador. Many resorts along this coast offer package deals, an easy and inexpensive way to visit the area. In addition there are campsites within the reserve.
There are several areas of particular interest that can be reached on foot from the information centre where detailed maps are available. Hides overlook El Cortalet, a freshwater lagoon and there is a raised hide known as El Palleja which gives views over brackish lagoons. To the west of the main lagoons there is a drainage channel which a bridge from which the extensive reedbeds can be viewed. Laguna de Rogera is a salt lagoon close to the sea where flamingos gather and the sea is well worth checking, especially after stormy weather. Parts of this stretch and the lagoon are closed to the public from April 1 to June 15 to minimise disturbance to breeding birds. From Sant Pere Pescador the River Fluvia flows to the sea and this also forms an interesting part of the reserve. To the north is a series of pools with extensive reedbeds that can be reached from the road between Castello d'Empuries and Palau-Saverdera. Estany de Vilaut is one of the best of these pools and can be reached by turning right onto a marked track shortly after the Restaurant Aiguamolls. This pool has a hide and the riverine woodland in the surrounding area is worthy of thorough exploration.



BIRDS INCLUDE Black-throated Diver (W), Cory's Shearwater (PM), Balearic Shearwater (PM,W), Yelkouan Shearwater (PM,W), Northern Gannet (W), Great Cormorant (W), Great Bittern (rare), Little Bittern (Su), Black-crowned Night Heron (Su), Squacco Heron (Su), Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret (PM), Grey Heron (Su), Purple Heron (Su), White Stork (reintroduced), Glossy Ibis (PM,W), Eurasian Spoonbill (PM), Greater Flamingo (PM), Eurasian Wigeon (W), Gadwall (PM,W), Common Teal (W), Mallard (W), Garganey (Su), Northern Shoveler (PM,W), Common Pochard (W), Common Scoter (W), Velvet Scoter (W), Common Eider (W), Western Honey-Buzzard (PM), Black Kite (Su), Short-toed Eagle (Su), Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier (W), Montagu's Harrier (Su), Osprey (PM), Eleonora's Falcon (Su,PM), Water Rail, Little Crake (Su), Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot (W), Black-winged Stilt (Su), Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole (Su), Kentish Plover (Su), Eurasian Dotterel (PM), Golden Plover (W), Northern Lapwing (W), Dunlin (PM,W), Ruff (PM), Common Snipe (W), Black-tailed Godwit (PM), Whimbrel (PM), Eurasian Curlew (W), Spotted Redshank (PM), Common Redshank (PM,W), Marsh Sandpiper (rare PM), Greenshank (PM), Green Sandpiper (PM), Wood Sandpiper (PM), Common Sandpiper (PM), Little Gull (PM), Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern (PM), Little Tern (Su), Whiskered Tern (PM), Black Tern (PM), White-winged Tern (scarce PM), Razorbill (W), Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo (Su), Common Cuckoo (Su), Eurasian Scops Owl (Su), Short-eared Owl (W), European Nightjar (Su), Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater (Su), European Roller (Su), Hoopoe, Wryneck (PM), Green Woodpecker,
Greater Short-toed Lark (Su), Water Pipit (PM), Meadow Pipit (W), Red-throated Pipit (rare Sp), Nightingale (Su), Bluethroat (scarce W), Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi's Warbler (Su), Moustached Warbler, Great Reed Warbler (Su), Melodious Warbler (Su), Subalpine Warbler (Su), Sardinian Warbler, Orphean Warbler (Su), Blackcap, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike (Su), Lesser Grey Shrike (Su), Southern Grey Shrike (W), Woodchat Shrike (Su), Corn Bunting
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 22:26   #3
Steve G
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Steve has covered it comprehensively above. I have never been there myself but I gather Aiguamolls de L'Emporda is an easy site to work with lots of goodies as Steve says. The site to the north is Cabo de Creus - a rocky headland. I believe the area holds a few pairs of Lesser Grey Shrike (& Bonelli's Eagle) as does Aiguamolls though neither they or the Rollers will be too easy to find. This is the northern extension of the Costa Brava (the wild (rocky) coast) & I don't think the beaches are quite what the sprogs might hope for! The Catalunyan Pyrenees are very attractive -particularly the National Park of Aiguestortes which is more like the Austrian Alps however its quite a drive to get there but the Cadi-Moixero area also holds the Pyrenean specialties (hunting for Wallcreeper might break your heart though) & is somewhat closer. Try to get hold of Michael Rebane's book: where to watch birds in NORTHERN & EAST SPAIN (published by Christopher Helm as this will prove a useful resource.
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Old Saturday 15th May 2004, 12:10   #4
Tony Knight
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Thanks Steve and Steve !

i will get hold of a copy of M Rebane's book - shame about the beaches, I'm sure I'd read somewhere that there was a good long sandy beach running south from Rosas but perhaps that was the local tourist office in selling mode ! I'm sure we'll be able find a good beach within 20 mins drive if we find a villa near Castello d'Empuries or Sant Pedro Pescador.

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Old Sunday 16th May 2004, 20:53   #5
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Tony... I was lucky enough to visit Aguamolls a few years ago (May I think), before I was really serious about my birding. It was a totally on spec visit, and I didn't spend nearly enough time there.

I was totally enraptured by the colony of bee-eaters, so didn't take in much else except the White Storks.

What does stick in the mind though, is take a hat and something to drink.... it's like a desert in places!!!!

Also toook a drive up to the Cap de Creus, and got Black-eared Wheatear without trying... s'posed to be loads of good birds there, but I wasn't paying attention.

With the beniefit of hindsight, I think it would be every bit as good as the review above... but the main reason for the post was "hat and water".
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Old Monday 17th May 2004, 13:51   #6
Tony Knight
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Birdman

i will be out, round and back by 10.30 so as to avoid the "you only booked this place cos its good for birdwatching" slur so the heat may be less of a problem. Actually I would happily take the heat in preference to a week of rain and wind !

It sounds great for birds - just got to find a decent quiet place to stay and get some assurance that there are decent soft sand beaches around there or i would really be in the doghouse !

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Old Monday 17th May 2004, 15:04   #7
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Hi again Tony...

Check out this link, which I have taken the following text from...

http://roses-spain.travel-holiday-guide.co.uk/roses-spain-reccwater.htm

The natural beauty of the area immediately around the town is one of the resort's biggest assets. Roses spans two important nature reserves - the Creus Cape Peninsula, home to globally unique species of flora and fauna, and the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l'Emporda, declared a protected area in 1983 to protect the Emporda marshlands.

The Emporda reserve is made up of cane fields, floodplains, coastal lakes, salt marshes and dunes. It's a haven for bird and other wildlife; there are several bird observatories around the lagoons, wild animal recovery centres and a stork breeding centre run in collaboration with Barcelona Zoo.

But it's the beaches, of course, which are the biggest magnet for most tourists. The coastline of Roses boasts endless stretches of fine sand which sweep around the bay to the south of the town. And either side of the resort there are numerous rocky coves, delightful shingle beaches nestling at the foot of the cliffs and totally unspoilt hidden corners only accessible on foot or by boat.

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Old Wednesday 19th May 2004, 18:04   #8
Tony Knight
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Thanks again Birdman

I have done a number of internet searches and found the blurb but was hoping to see if anyone had that personal "i found this great little place for rollers....." or "don't go to xxx beach, its a real tip" experience. It seems clear that its a great place to go to for the birds, just got to make sure its also good beachwise and scenerywise.

I've also found contradictory advice as to whether the beaches are wide, empty and dusted with talcum poweder soft sand to small, packed beaches of grit ! I think I have enough to press ahead with a clear conscience. Also not sure how easy it will be to book cheap saturday ryanair flights over whitsun week next summer ie whether ryanair dont get the slots for peak times or jack up the prices or sell out in a few hours after going on sale....more research needed methinks ! Can't complain, this is birdforum afterall, rather than holidayforum !!
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 13:41   #9
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Visited Emporda marshes back in 1988,it was my first trip abroad, seem to remember it was in 3 different sections,saw some good birds though,Roller, B E Wheater, H Buzzard,good views of lesser kestrel all the usual stuff you would expect from this part of spain, when I went about 4 pairs of roller bred on the reserve,and they were very visible when I went (in april),on one of the sections was a large area of saltpans (workings) which looked very good for waders etc, need to dig out my notes to see what else I saw ..defo need a car though the 3 different sections were quite far apart..very good reserve though
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Old Friday 5th December 2008, 21:14   #10
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I've just recently joined this forum (in fact, this is my first post!) and have only just dug up this "older" thread.
I wish I had found it some 6 or 7 months ago, because I would have been asking much the same questions about the reserve as Tony did.
We had 2 weeks on the Costa Brava back in June and it was my intention to pay a visit to the reserve ~ as it turned out, I cajoled my wife into accompanying me on 2 visits.

For the benefit of anyone who may read this and has a future intention of visiting the Emporda Marshes here is a brief account of what I can remember of what I saw.

Several kinds of finches including Serin;
Spotless Starlings;
Spoonbill; Little Egret; Black-Winged Stilt; White Storks (nesting in several areas throughout the reserve); Greater Flamingo;
Bee Eaters aplenty;
Nightingales heard at what seemed to be about every 50metres or so ~ although only actually saw about 3 of them . . . not an easy bird to see!
There were plenty of other species seen (but not so easily recalled!) as well as several small groups of Fallow Deer, White (wild?) horses and plenty interesting aquatic life forms.

To anyone planning to make a visit of 2 or 3 hours I would say you'd probably be a bit disappointed ~ at least a full day (or more!) wouldn't be too long. This is a fairly extensive reserve with 10 hides, many of which get you up close and almost personal with the birds
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Old Saturday 6th December 2008, 09:57   #11
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lesser grey shrike

Nice one Zeedee.

Just to qualify, Lesser Grey Shrikes don't breed in the area any more it's thought.

And Nightingales are quite easy to pick up out in the open and around the picnic benches near the main car park. Roller aren't too difficult either in the area.

I was out there on Sunday (1st Dec?) and had a few flocks of Balearic Shearwater flying past right by the beach, along with a half-dozen Gannet and a Red-throated Diver.

Details of birds at the Aiguamolls:
http://www.catalanbirdtours.com/Spai...20holiday.html

and at the Cap de Creus:
http://www.catalanbirdtours.com/Spai...ng%20trip.html

All the best

Last edited by Stephen C : Saturday 6th December 2008 at 10:00. Reason: addition
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Old Saturday 6th December 2008, 20:10   #12
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Hi Stephen,

Just thought that, as you're a "local" I'd ask for clarification of exactly what the white horses are?
Are they wild, or are they just grazed on the reserve?

Also, I've included a link to a short video (a rather low grade video!) in which I made mention of House Sparrows ~ but have since wondered if they are actually Spanish Sparrows?

Here's the link > > >

A short, low grade video!
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Old Sunday 7th December 2008, 21:02   #13
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horse sparrows

Zeedee Hi

Yeah the horses are there just for grazing and making sure it doesn't turn into a woodland. And House Sparrows, yes, although there's lots of Tree Sparrows too.

Actually the Spanish Sparrow has a very limited distribution in Spain and doesn't occur with any regularity this far north, i.e. Catalonia. Funnily enough it does occur in nine other European countries though.

All the best
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Old Monday 8th December 2008, 11:46   #14
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Lesser Grey Shrikes no longer breed anywhere in Spain except in one small area near Lleida.

Some good recommended accommodation can be found on the BirdingInSpain.com website. Look up the itineraries of Aiguamolls, Cap de Creus and Montgrí.

There's also a book by Steve West called "Where the birds are in northeast Spain".

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Old Wednesday 10th December 2008, 19:21   #15
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Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your response.
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2015, 17:22   #16
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Dear all..........no messages for a long time but three of us are staying at Camping Laguna for several days in late April early May with the intention of giving the reserve a good grilling.

Any updates from those who have been?
Is it possible to get to the Pyrenees for Wallcreeper etc?
And finally it sounds like LG Shrike are finished - or is there more news?
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Old Wednesday 28th January 2015, 13:41   #17
Aleix Comas
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Dear all..........no messages for a long time but three of us are staying at Camping Laguna for several days in late April early May with the intention of giving the reserve a good grilling.

Any updates from those who have been?
Is it possible to get to the Pyrenees for Wallcreeper etc?
And finally it sounds like LG Shrike are finished - or is there more news?
Hi, I live half an hour from Aiguamolls and visit it regularly. Lesser Grey Shrike is unfortunately definitively out. Also Great Bittern and Purple Swamphen have not bred in the last years, but some Swamphens have been released just this January.

You can reach the Pyrenees in just a 2 hour drive (ski resort of Vallter, over 2000 m.a.s.l.), unfortunately there are no guaranteed sites there for Wallcreeper, wich is very shy during the breeding season and at that time is more likely to be encountered at Pedraforca massif, for instance (but not guaranteed). However good birds like Citril Finch are very easy there.

Late April-early May is the best time of the year for birding in Empordà so it should be filled up with birds. Last May 1st we recorded 182 species in Empordà entirely by bike, so it means that birding is great at that time!

Very close to Aiguamolls you have Cap de Creus Natural Park with other good birds like Spectacled Warbler, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Balearic Shearwater, Mediterranean Shearwater, Bonelli's Eagle, etc

Cheers,

Aleix Comas
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Old Wednesday 28th January 2015, 18:14   #18
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I think as a family area its great and also for birds!

I have stayed on a couple of campsites - one practically on the end of the reserve which was very well equipped and on the beach as well. There is a nudist beach about 100m up the beach from here so you may prefer to stay the other side of the river (Emporda or Rosas).

On my last visit (Oct 2013) I was sorry to see that government cuts mean the reserve was in a sorrier state than it should have been. This may in practice make birds harder to see!

However, do not be deterred by this as birding sites are all around. I found Roller quite easy at the end of April but was too early for the breeding Pendulines.

I loved the area just along the coast from Rosas (Falconers point or something similar) and found Bonellis Eagle, BE Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush along here.

It may be worthwhile getting one of the Stephens/Steves to show you round early on your trip and then explore.
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Old Thursday 29th January 2015, 19:33   #19
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Thank you Aleix and Rosbif for the tips. All very welcome indeed.
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Old Thursday 29th January 2015, 22:16   #20
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Punta Falconera is the place I really enjoyed.

There is a great 'pitch and putt' course and driving range near the bird reserve. Otherwise great ruins around Rosas. Cadaques a great trip out with ice cream on the beach. Cap Creus unmissable but seemingly always busy - great bar at the end. I had lunch at El Port de La Selva which was great and the town looked really nice.

Camping Laguna the campsite I stayed at last time. Has a kite surfing school on the beach.
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Old Friday 6th March 2015, 18:47   #21
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http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=4268

From July 2002, but the sites are the same.
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 09:49   #22
Mike C
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I'm really pleased to have found this thread.
Off on a short family break in early June and wondering what to do with my free time.

If anyone has any more recent comments - that would be fabulous.
If not I will follow the advice already posted

Cheers
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 10:39   #23
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I'm really pleased to have found this thread.
Off on a short family break in early June and wondering what to do with my free time.

If anyone has any more recent comments - that would be fabulous.
If not I will follow the advice already posted

Cheers
There's a new website (since last posts in the thread) devoted to bird sightings in the region:
http://www.birdingemporda.com

It lists interesting (for the region) bird sightings, so it doesn't include sightings of common birds.

Cheers,

Aleix
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 11:52   #24
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There's a new website (since last posts in the thread) devoted to bird sightings in the region:
http://www.birdingemporda.com

It lists interesting (for the region) bird sightings, so it doesn't include sightings of common birds.

Cheers,

Aleix
thanks you Aleix
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 18:55   #25
Larry Sweetland
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Aiguamolls is not to be missed. My only advice would be don't park there in a van overnight next to French birder punk rockers, or you might end up very drunk and falling in a ditch, like my girlfriend did!
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