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Barcelona, Pyrenees and the Ebro Delta - February 2020 (1 Viewer)

GiG

Well-known member
United Nations
We got up early to have a quick look outside the hotel before breakfast and in a small pool a male Little Bittern climbed up some reeds then flew up and landed further back where it then started barking. In the same area we had a Little Egret and a Cetti’s Warbler and out by the car park a Spotless Starling. We then headed out to freshwater lagoons at L’Encanyissada, stopping at a couple of places. Species seen included Great Flamingos and several Black-necked Grebes. A few Purple Swamphens were viewed from the car calling loudly in adjacent reeds.

We then set up on a tower platform to give us a great vista across the reed bed and pools. From here we saw further Purple Swamphens, a couple of Water Pipits, along a channel a Green Sandpiper plus five Wood Sandpipers that flew past calling. We watched several Chiffchaffs flycatching amongst the reeds and on the ground below us before we then noted a Moustached Warbler low along the reed edge feeding and calling as it went along. We had a short walk below on the tracks and noted up to five Bluethroats in total and many more Chiffchaffs.

1.Spotless Starling
2.Greater Flamingos
3.Reedbed view
4.Chiffchaffs
5.Bluethroat
 

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GiG

Well-known member
United Nations
We moved on through Amposta, to a large area of saltmarsh where we saw many Audouin’s Gulls and some Yellow-legged Gulls. We went in to a hide to view large numbers of Dunlins present out front and seven Little Stints amongst them along with Ringed Plovers, Kentish Plovers while further out Grey Plovers and lots of Greater Flamingos with more flying in. A couple of Caspian Terns were also flying around. We then headed to the shore and along a sandy track to scan over a bay. A good number of Sanderlings were present along with some Dunlins and on a small spit Sandwich Terns and Mediterranean Gulls with a few Slender-billed Gulls swimming just offshore. Further out we found a Black-throated Diver and scanning across saw three more plus a Great Skua. Back along the track we saw Gannet offshore.

We headed to a small reserve with a hide to have lunch. On approaching the hide a Tree Sparrow was vocal in a tree above us. In the hide we had great views of Purple Swamphens and made good comparison with the Moorhens and Coots also present. We had lovely surprise when a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew across and briefly landed in a tree near us.

1.Ebro Delta map
2.Audouin's Gull
3.Sanderlings, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Mediterranean Gull
4.Purple Swamphen
5.Great Spotted Cuckoo
 

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GiG

Well-known member
United Nations
Our next port of call was to drive in to the hills; we’d been successful with other montane birds like Wallcreeper but had missed out on Alpine Accentor so that was the target to aim for. As we climbed, the heat of the coast turned in to extremely windy conditions. We stopped at a few laybys on our way up then slowly down again before finally two Alpine Accentors were seen by the side of the road. Unfortunately my angle in the car meant I could just see a silhouette in the curve of the front window screen so all bar me had a good look. I thought this was a bogey species for me before this trip and, as we were quite hopeful of encountering on this trip and with almost seeing it, it definitely is now! They had flown down over the edge of the winding road so we continued down making a couple of further stops. No further views but I did find Stinking Hellebore.

We moved on to a canyon for our last stop of the day. Due to the wind it was generally quiet bird-wise but we did have a good view of a female Spanish Ibex. A sharp call above us alerted the group to a large raptor swooping in, a magnificent male Bonelli’s Eagle. It passed over and up the canyon before returning and away behind the escarpment. Thrilled by the sighting and following a long day it was time to head back to the hotel.

We’d thought that would be it for the day but after eating and having a drink we headed back to our rooms but I thought I’d have a listen outside. We’d briefly tried the night before as Scops Owl nest in boxes on the site but we had no luck. This time as soon as I put my head out the door I heard the unmistakable call of a Scops Owl. I called the rest of the group to come and listen and we assembled outside. We could tell it was nearby but couldn’t pick it up when we heard a second bird further away. This got closer and flew in to the trees where the original one was and then they both flew out and away. Some of the guys then went back in but a couple of us waited and the calling came closer again. Scanning with the bins I realised it was within one of the nest boxes. I went in to get my scope and managed some digiscoped images – a great bird to finish the day.

1.Accentor viewpoint
2.Stinking Hellebore
3.Spanish Ibex
4.Bonelli's Eagle
5.Scops Owl
 

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GiG

Well-known member
United Nations
Our final day and it was one last visit to the wetlands around Ebro Delta. Towards the coast with marshy areas, reedbeds and pools we saw numerous Glossy Ibises and Little Egrets. We drove to another reedbed area at Alfacada, climbing a tower to give great views across the area. We saw many of the species already encountered including several ducks species such as Shovelers, Pintails and Shelducks. A Kingfisher flew down a channel where there were some Red-crested Pochards. Waders included Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Black-tailed Godwits.

We moved on to an area of paddyfields, along the tracks the ditches held an amazing number of heronids with lots of Great White Egrets, Grey Herons and Little Egrets. We stopped by some fields where we could see numerous birds and scanned across. The fields were full of Glossy Ibises and Black-headed Gulls and then we realised a number of waders were also present including Ruff, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Sanderling. Further back were large groups of Greater Flamingos, some of which flew past. A Lesser Short-toed Lark showed well and then a Peregrine was seen sitting on the deck. It was a pale blue, grey bird and we wondered if it was of the race calidus. Scanning from another track we had a Booted Eagle overhead, a few of which over-winter in the area.

It was time to make the drive to the airport in Barcelona but we had planned to make a final stop at a reserve near it. We picked up some lunch to eat at the site and spent a short time checking the area out seeing Stonechat and a Water Pipit along a channel. Carles gave us the option to head in to the city to look for Red-billed Leiothrix as he thought we had time to get there and have half an hour or so to search. We agreed and once in the city saw a few Monk Parakeets flying around. No luck with our target but we did have great views of a Firecrest and saw some Long-tailed Tits. We packed our kit away and drove to the airport. We thanked Carles for an excellent trip and said our goodbyes.

Writing up this report have realised how lucky we were to get a trip in before the lockdown. Other options would have been impacted. It’s brought back great memories of a wonderful trip, jam-packed with lots of birds including some really special ones. Add in beautiful scenery, lovely accommodation and food and the friendliness of Carles (Barcelona Birding Point) and the people we met made it a trip we’ll not forget. The mild weather had a slight impact on the birding and I definitely took thermal gear I never needed! Adding in the city break to Barcelona prior to the trip was a great idea, a city I enjoyed very much plus a nice selection of birds too!

1.Alfacada viewpoint
2.Glossy Ibis
3.Greater Flamingo flock
4.Lesser Short-toed Lark
5.Booted Eagle
 

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Scridifer

Registered User
Supporter
Bulgaria
A great report Gi and a thoroughly enjoyable read! Like you we were fortunate enough to get in a trip to the Canaries around the same time and are similarly appreciative! Apart from Dupont's Lark did you dip on any major targets?

Thanks for taking the time to write it up,

Chris
 

GiG

Well-known member
United Nations
A great report Gi and a thoroughly enjoyable read! Like you we were fortunate enough to get in a trip to the Canaries around the same time and are similarly appreciative! Apart from Dupont's Lark did you dip on any major targets?

Thanks for taking the time to write it up,

Chris

Thanks Chris. Well for me I couldn't count Alpine Accentor. I did see one in Georgia, in fact found it, but it was so distant that I wasn't happy with the views, as was this time. Other than that we did really well, great views of birds seen before but not well including both the Sandgrouse species - have seen them in Extremadura both OK in flight or, with Pin-tailed, on the deck but in bad heat haze.

Been busy editing a magazine, The Harrier, for the Suffolk Bird Group plus sorting material as I'm a section in the Suffolk Bird Report so hadn't realised how long the gap was between start and completion!

Gi
 

Scridifer

Registered User
Supporter
Bulgaria
Thanks Chris. Well for me I couldn't count Alpine Accentor. I did see one in Georgia, in fact found it, but it was so distant that I wasn't happy with the views, as was this time. Other than that we did really well, great views of birds seen before but not well including both the Sandgrouse species - have seen them in Extremadura both OK in flight or, with Pin-tailed, on the deck but in bad heat haze.

Been busy editing a magazine, The Harrier, for the Suffolk Bird Group plus sorting material as I'm a section in the Suffolk Bird Report so hadn't realised how long the gap was between start and completion!

Gi

Got really good views of Alpine Accentor in the Carpathian Mountains in neighbouring Romania (also present in the Rila Mountains here) along with Wallcreeper. Very jealous of your Sandgrouse, had one flyover BB in pre-dawn light in Fuerteventura in February, and missed both species in Spain a couple of years ago.
Good luck with the magazine!

Chris
 

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