A vibrant abundance of bird-life awaits you on the Ebro Delta! Scroll down to discover some of the fabulous birds you can expect to encounter when you book a bird watching tour with Ebro Delta Birding. You can also find a guideline as to the best time of the year to visit, and what to expect in the different seasons of the year.
The Ebro Delta boasts a huge year round population of Greater Flamingos, with a breeding population which can reach around 3,000 pairs in productive years. These graceful birds are a guaranteed sighting when you visit the Ebro Delta for bird watching, usually favoring the nutrient rich salt pans and shallow coastal bays - of which we have an abundance of. It's often possible to get great views at close proximity to Flamingos, which have become accustomed to bird watchers and can be somewhat confiding.
The majestic Purple Heron is one of the clear bird watching highlights of the Ebro Delta. These handsome birds show up well on our birding boat tour as they like the river bank, but are also found regularly around the agricultural zone. A migrant species, Purple Heron are only present in the breeding season from early April through until late September.
Squacco Heron is the smallest of the European herons, but an absolute beauty when viewed in it's breeding dress around May / June. The adults develop a sublime turquoise / aqua marine bill and grow an extravagant head dress. In the latter part of the season, hundreds of Squacco Herons can be viewed close up on our birding boat tour as they hunt from floating rafts of weed along the margins of the Ebro river.
The Ebro Delta has a large population of Black-crowned Night Herons which remain present throughout the year. This handsome bird possesses a stunning crimson red eye, which allows it to foray after dark. It is often seen in groups heading out to feed at dusk, and regularly encountered on our birding boat tour in communal day roosts in isolated locations along the river bank.
One of the most requested species, particularly on our bird watching boat tour, is the Little Bittern. This secretive bird likes to remain hidden in the reed beds which line the river, but once located is fairly approachable. Often located in the spring season by listening out for it's low 'boom' as it calls for a mate. Breeding males are spectacular, exhibiting a stunning coral red bill in the best specimens.
Great Bittern is also present in the Ebro Delta in winter - although only in small numbers and difficult to locate!
All 3 of the European Egrets are common residents on the Ebro Delta, and you can be certain that you will get great views of them when you book a birding tour with us.
Great Egret is often seen fishing in the shallow water coastal bays, patiently stalking prey of various sizes.
Cattle Egret, more of a scavenger by nature, is typical in the agricultural zone looking for goodies that may be unearthed by tractors etc.
Little Egret is the most abundant of all, and this versatile heron can be found in many of the region's habitats.
One of Europe's most familiar birds, the Grey Heron is particularly abundant here on the Ebro Delta during the winter months. We can see hundreds of Grey Herons whilst birding in the agricultural zone after the rice harvest, as they wait patiently for tasty meals such as frogs and crayfish.
Check out the link below to watch footage of this familiar heron as it stalks fish in the shallows and hunts for frogs in the boggy winter fields!
Spanish Imperial Eagle - South Catalonia Showcase - Lleida plains
Audouin's Gull is a species closely associated with bird watching at the Ebro Delta - the region supports the world's largest breeding colony with over 10,000 pairs annually. Conservation efforts have successfully revived the population of Audouin's Gull, which was believed to be as low as 1,000 breeding pairs around the 1960s. The population around the Ebro Delta disperses over the winter months with birds typically heading south along the Mediterranean coastline and into western Africa, migrating as far down as Senegambia.
The Ebro Delta is a great place to see a wide selection of Terns, including the mighty Caspian Tern (pictured above with a prize capture!). Here are some of the species which we regularly encounter on our guided bird watching tours:
Another variety of Gull popular with bird watchers who visit the Ebro Delta is the Slender-billed Gull, which is locally common and breeds here, and can be found easily throughout the year. This handsome gull variety is interesting to observe as it actively hunts for small fish around the shallow bays. Other familiar gulls which are present on our birding trips include:
Probably Europe's most spectacular species , the Bee-eater generally arrives around the Ebro Delta in early April and can be seen until mid September. On our bird watching boat tour we will visit a breeding colony on an island in the Ebro river which guarantees spectacular viewing!
One of the most requested species on our birding tours is the unique and charismatic Eurasian Hoopoe - which can be found in varied habitats around the Ebro Delta. We are lucky enough to have a resident population and will see this beautiful species on our bird watching excursions throughout the whole year!
Another 'must see' when birding in Spain is the European Roller. This colorful bird is seen only during migration within the Ebro Delta, as it prefers to breed in more arid habitat. When you book one of our multi-day birding holidays, we will pay a visit to the Lleida steppes which is a breeding stronghold for Roller, and we will be sure to get fantastic views!
A regular sight around the Ebro Delta owing to the many watery habitats is the Common Kingfisher. A popular species for bird photography - there are some excellent opportunities to spend time in hides and get these beautiful but timid birds close to your lens!
Locally common on the Ebro Delta, the sublime Purple Swamphen is a year round highlight on our bird watching excursions. This exquisitely colored bird frequents marshes and reed beds, and although shy it can be seen with a little patience in the right locations. It's raucous calls are often heard around the marshes it frequents.
The huge marshes found around the Ebro Delta are excellent habitat for Rails & Crakes. Water Rail is a common (although somewhat secretive) year round resident best seen at dawn and dusk.
We can also expect to see Crakes on our birding trips during the spring migration with Spotted Crake being the most reliable. Baillon's Crake & Little Crake are also possible in the right season - late March / early April is generally the most productive period.
An abundance of wetland habitat attracts a wide variety of ducks & grebes to the region - including the stunning Red-crested Pochard (pictured here). The winter months offer the best chances to see huge flocks of ducks like Shoveler & Teal, while rarities such as White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck & Ferruginous Duck have all been spotted on our birding holidays.
Grebes include the omnipresent Little & Great Crested Grebes, with Black-necked often seen in the winter.
White Storks are a regular sight around the Ebro Delta during the spring & autumn bird migration periods, and are becoming increasingly frequent throughout the winter months. The spectacle of a huge group of migrating White Storks passing over head can be simply awe inspiring!
Black Stork is a much rarer sighting, but is occasionally encountered - often individuals mixed in with a group of it's white cousins.
Spoonbill is also primarily seen during migration periods, although a small wintering colony is present annually on Illa de Buda - and can be observed from the tall observatory which over looks this site.
April is the most productive time of the year to see flocks of Spoonbill heading north passing through the Ebro Delta, and is generally one of the prime months to plan a bird watching holiday in Spain.
The optimum time to visit the Ebro Delta for bird watching tours is during the migration periods in the Spring & Autumn. Not only can we expect to see all of the spectacular resident birds of the area, but also we will observe many species of birds in transit to their breeding / wintering destinations.
Spring migration typically runs from around mid March through to mid May, when we can begin to witness the arrival of summer breeders as well as birds heading further north towards Central and Northern parts of Europe. This is our most popular period for bird watching holidays.
The autumn migration period will begin in mid August and stretch through into mid October. Many varieties are passing along the Mediterranean coastline on route to Africa for the winter, although sadly we see the departure of some of our summer favorites!
Summer is also a great time for birding tours in and around the Ebro Delta. Some of the most sought after species of birds on our trips are the arrivals from Africa, and all of these can be located throughout May, June, July, August and into September. Many of these birds are breeding in the delta area, or in some of the other nearby habitats that we cover with our range of guided bird watching tours.
During the summer months we will usually adjust the tour times to earlier morning or later evening sessions in order to avoid the heat of the afternoons, and observe the birds when they are most active.
Although we see the departure of many bird species in Winter, this is offset by the arrival of a fantastic selection of other varieties seeking a winter refuge on the Ebro Delta. The mild coastal wetlands of the delta are a perfect wintering area for many varieties of wildfowl, passerines and raptors alike.
Alongside the winter birds on the delta, we also offer a week long tour where we will specifically seek out some of the best birding spectacles in Catalonia and neighboring Aragon. Our Winter Wonders of Northern Spain tour includes visits to famous bird watching sites such as Gallocanta with it's Cranes and Bustards, and the Sierra de Gaura where we go in search of the mighty Lammergeier and elusive Wallcreeper. Overall a great time to plan your bird watching holidays!