Trip report to north eastern Spain
September 9 - 16, 2000

by Nico Geiregat (NGE)

In september 2000, my girlfriend and I travelled to north eastern Spain.

We travelled with Virgin from Brussels to Reus (Price: approx. 35000 Ptas/person )

We booked a car (the Citroën Saxo that we booked turned out to be a Seat Ibiza for the same price) at the airport of Reus (Price: approx. 4000 Ptas/day ).

Our time was limited to one week. Our main goal was birdwatching. However the combination of these three elements (girlfriend - limited time - birdwatching) proved to be a real challenge at some times… especially for her…  Since she preferred looking for the bigger birds, I neglected the smaller ones too.  Don’t expect Spanish people to understand or speak French or English, even if you’re close to the French border or at the mediterranian coast.

 

Trip report

9/9

Shortly after our arrival at Reus airport, at 20:30 h we drove to Lleida. We slept in a Formule 1-hotel.  Formule 1 is a cheap French hotel group. In that way we were certain to be spoken to in French.  Price: 3750 Ptas for a bedroom.

10/9

From our bedroom window we saw our first Spotless starling (Sturnus unicolor), Fant-tailed warbler and Hoopoes (Upupa epops).

Our first destination was the steppe area west of Ballobar described in (1). At a little pool I scared a Greenshank (Tringa nebularia). The bird flew off and was immediately attacked by a Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). The Greenshank survived.

We also saw some Pin-tailed sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata) and Black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) flying across. On the ground we had good views of Choughs (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Calandra (Melanocorypha calandra), Thekla (Galerida thekla) and Short-toed lark (Calandrella brachydactyla).

The dry area around Ontinena was quite good with our first Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), one or two Booted eagles, some Short-toed eagles, about 20 Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) and lots of Kestrels (Falco sp.) which flew too far away to pick out a 100% certain Lesser Kestrel.

In the Pyrenees we drove through the impressive Rio Vellos-valley which leads you to the Anisclo-valley. Standing on the parking place we saw two Lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus) with some Griffon vultures. While returning, we saw a male Rock trush (Montcola saxatilis) near Buerba.

We stayed in Hotel Valle de Pineta in Bielsa. Price half pension: 7500 Ptas a day + extra price for garage.

11/9

A mountain itinerary: a climb to the Lago de Marbore at the Balcón de Pineta starting at the Parador de Monte Perdido (1). This journey required some experience and physical condition. We didn’t walk that slowly, but still the eight hours you need discribed in (1) turned out to be over ten hours in our case. On our way we saw at least four times Lammergeier (once two individuals together), Alpine accentor (Prunella collaris), Citril finch (Serinus citrinella), Rock bunting (Emberiza cia), Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) and Water pipit (Anthus spinoletta).

 

Furthermore we had some alpine marmots, chamois and Macroglossum stellatarum (colibri-like butterfly).

We stayed in Hotel Valle de Pineta in Bielsa. Price half pension: 7500 Ptas a day + extra price for garage.

 

12/9

Back southward to Lleida. A day to forget quickly. We only remember a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) near Ontinena on the spot where Kestrels were again flying frustratingly far away.

We slept in the Formule 1-hotel we visited three days ago. Price: 3750 Ptas for a bedroom.

13/9

 

We visited the steppes for the last time. We first drove to El Planeron near Codo (Belchite). On our way near Gelsa we saw some Southern grey shrikes (Lanius meridionalis), Montagu’s harriers (Circus pygargus), Red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa),...
At noon at El Planeron we saw only some hundred Griffon vultures and larks. We had Calandras, Theklas, Short-toeds and Lesser Short-toeds (Calandrella rufescens). The little lake was nearly empty. We took the first suitable track passed El Planeron (coming from Quinto). There we heard at least two singing Duponts larks (Chersophilus duponti). Searching for the brids wasn’t  really what we had in mind with a temperature of far over 30 °C...

 

On our way to the Ebro-delta we found two Dotterels (Charadrius morinellus) near Alfés as we were again trying to follow a track described in (1). If you don’t drive a 4x4 or if you don’t know the area it is better not to try this journey: the track from Alfés to Aspa had quite some junctions which were not described in (1) and we completely lost our way.

 

 

We finally arrived in Sant Carles de la Rapita where we stayed in an apartment in Aparthotel La Rapita. The "view to the sea" turned out to be a little stretch at the horizon if we looked across the other buildings. Luckily we didn’t reserve half pension because it really wasn’t worth the money. Price: 8.000 Ptas per night.

14/9

The lake L’Encanyissada in the southern part of the Ebro-delta was visited every day. Caspian (Sterna caspia), Gull-billed (Gelochelidon nilotica) and Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybridus) were present here all the time. Moustached warblers are also present they say but we didn’t hear nor see them.

From the tower near Gola de Migjorn we saw 2 adult Purple gallinules (Porphyrio porphyrio) with three chicks.

At about 20:00 h we went to some olive groves near Sant Carles, looking for Red-necked nightjars (Caprimulgus ruficollis). One bird was seen at some 2 miles from the city at a well known place for this species. I do stress however that the area was private and the owners didn’t seem very friendly.

We stayed in Aparthotel La Rapita. Price: 8.000 Ptas per night (apartment).

15/9

We also saw a Purple gallinule on Illa de Buda. Glossy ibisses are harder to find at this period of the year since they seam to hide further on the Illa de buda.

In the evening at L’Encanyissada we saw two Purple gallinules more and a huge amount of both European (Sturnus vulgaris) and Spotless starlings coming to sleap in the reedbeds. We saw at least one leucistic individual.

We stayed in Aparthotel La Rapita. Price: 8.000 Ptas per night (apartment).

16/9

Back to Reus airport, but first we drove to the region of Cornudella and La Morera (1) where we hoped to spot some fairly easy species which we had missed until then. We did not have the time to do the itinerary described in (1) although the area did look promissing: we had our first male Blue rock trush (Monticola solitarius) and our only Red-rumped swallows (Hirundo daurica).

As we arrived at the airport there was a last nice surprise waiting for us: there we saw our first and only swifts although we looked pretty much for them all the week: 3 Pallids (Apus pallidus).

A big thank you to the people that gave me advice: Filiep Tjollyn, Geert Spanoghe, Wim Veraghtert and Jesus Laborda Val.

And an even bigger thank you to Natalie who had to keep up with me during that whole week.

(1): Eduardo De Juana, Where to watch Birds in Spain

 


SPECIES

LATIN NAME

#

DATE

CITY,…

LOCATION

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Black-necked Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

Little Bittern

Ixobrychus minutus

1

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Illa de Buda

Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

3

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

4

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Squacco Heron

Ardeola ralloides

11

14/9/00

Poble nou

Information center

6

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Illa de Buda

17

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Cattle Egret

Great White Egret

Casmerodius albus

3

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

Grey Heron

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

2

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

2

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

2

15/9/00

Poble nou

La Noria

77

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

White Stork

Ciconia ciconia

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Dotterel

Eudromias morinellus

2

13/9/00

Alfés

Greater Flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber

5

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

38

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

7

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Illa de Buda

Shelduck

Tadorna tadorna

6

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Gadwall

Anas strepera

Teal

Anas crecca

Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

Shoveler

Anas clypeata

Red-crested Pochard

Netta rufina

25

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Pochard

Aythya ferina

1

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Red Kite

Milvus milvus

8

9/10/00

Ainsa

A 138

1

9/10/00

Escalona

Vallei Rio Vellos - Añisclovallei

1

9/12/00

Col du Tourtelet

French-Spanish border

Lammergeier

Gypaetus barbatus

1

9/10/00

Escalona

A 138

2

9/10/00

Escalona

Vallei Rio Vellos - Añisclovallei

2

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Griffon Vulture

Gyps fulvus

9

9/10/00

Ontiñena

A 2214

5

9/10/00

Monzon

A 130

17

9/10/00

Ainsa

A 138

15

9/10/00

Escalona

A 138

20

9/10/00

Escalona

Vallei Rio Vellos - Añisclovallei

15

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

4

9/12/00

Col du Tourtelet

French-Spanish border

100

13/9/00

Codo

El Planeron

Short-toed Eagle

Circaetus gallicus

2

9/10/00

Alcolea de Cinca - Monzon

A 130

2

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

2

9/12/00

Col du Tourtelet

French-Spanish border

Marsh Harrier

Circus aeruginosus

Hen Harrier

Circus cyaneus

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Montagu's Harrier

Circus pygargus

2

13/9/00

Gelsa

A 1105

Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

1

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

Buzzard

Buteo buteo

Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

1

9/12/00

Ontiñena

Booted Eagle

Hieraaetus pennatus

1

9/10/00

Ontiñena

A 2214

Osprey

Pandion haliaetus

1

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Boat trip from Sant Carles

1

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

1

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Illa de Buda

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Peregrine

Falco peregrinus

1

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Red-legged Partridge

Alectoris rufa

17

13/9/00

Gelsa

A 1105

1

13/9/00

Alborge - Bujaraloz

A 2105

Water Rail

Rallus aquaticus

Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

Purple Gallinule

Porphyrio porphyrio

5

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Illa de Buda

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

2

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Coot

Fulica atra

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybrida

5

14/9/00

Poble nou

Ebro - Road southwest to Poble nou

20

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Black-winged Stilt

Himantopus himantopus

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Ringed Plover

Charadrius hiaticula

3

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Kentish Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

4

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Little Stint

Calidris minuta

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea

3

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Dunlin

Calidris alpina

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Ruff

Philomachus pugnax

15

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Black-tailed Godwit

Limosa limosa

3

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

3

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Redshank

Tringa totanus

25

14/9/00

Ebro-delta

Gola de Migjorn

Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

1

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Green Sandpiper

Tringa ochropus

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Yellow-legged gull

Larus michahellis

2

13/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Beach

300

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Boat trip from Sant Carles

10

15/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Harbour

Audouin's Gull

Larus audouini

2

13/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Beach

10

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Boat trip from Sant Carles

15

15/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Harbour

Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundus

Slender-billed Gull

Larus genei

1

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Gull-billed Tern

Gelochelidon nilotica

2

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

2

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Caspian Tern

Sterna caspia

6

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Sandwich Tern

Sterna sandvicensis

2

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Boat trip from Sant Carles

Common Tern

Sterna hirundo

1

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

Boat trip from Sant Carles

Little Tern

Sterna albifrons

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

2

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Pterocles orientalis

10

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Pterocles alchata

20

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Woodpigeon

Columba palumbus

Collared Dove

Streptopelia decaocto

Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

Little Owl

Athene noctua

Tawny Owl

Strix aluco

x

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Red-necked Nightjar

Caprimulgus ruficollis

1

14/9/00

Sant Carles de la Rapita

See map for location

Pallid Swift

Apus pallidus

3

16/9/00

Reus

Airport

White-rumped Swift

Apus caffer

2

9/10/00

Ainsa

A 138

Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

Bee-eater

Merops apiaster

20

9/10/00

Alcolea de Cinca - Monzon

A 130

Hoopoe

Upupa epops

2

9/10/00

Torrefarrera

F1-hotel

Wryneck

Jynx torquilla

x

9/11/00

Bielsa

road to Espierba

Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

1

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Dupont's Lark

Chersophilus duponti

x

13/9/00

Codo

El Planeron

Calandra Lark

Melanocorypha calandra

1

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

3

13/9/00

Codo

El Planeron

Short-toed Lark

Calandrella brachydactyla

5

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

15

13/9/00

Codo

El Planeron

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Calandrella rufescens

2

13/9/00

Codo

El Planeron

1

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Crested Lark

Galerida cristata

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Thekla Lark

Galerida theklae

30

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Crag Martin

Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Red-rumped Swallow

Hirundo daurica

4

16/9/00

Cornudella

House Martin

Delichon urbica

Tree Pipit

Anthus trivialis

Meadow Pipit

Anthus pratensis

Water Pipit

Anthus spinoletta

4

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

2

9/12/00

Col du Tourtelet

French-Spanish border

Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava

Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

White Wagtail

Motacilla alba alba

Dipper

Cinclus cinclus

1

9/12/00

Bielsa

Hotel Valle de Pineta

Wren

Troglodytes troglodytes

Dunnock

Prunella modularis

Alpine Accentor

Prunella collaris

2

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Black Redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

Whinchat

Saxicola rubetra

Stonechat

Saxicola torquata

Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe

Black-eared Wheatear

Oenanthe hispanica

2

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Rock Thrush

Monticola saxatilis

1

9/10/00

Buerba

East of Buerba

1

16/9/00

La Morera

Blue Rock Thrush

Monticola solitarius

1

16/9/00

La Morera

Blackbird

Turdus merula

Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorus

Cetti's Warbler

Cettia cetti

Fan-tailed Warbler

Cisticola juncidis

Marsh Warbler

Acrocephalus palustris

Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Great Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus arundinaceus

1

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Dartford Warbler

Sylvia undata

Subalpine Warbler

Sylvia cantillans

2

15/9/00

Ebro-delta

Antiges Salines del negret

Sardinian Warbler

Sylvia melanocephala

Blackcap

Sylvia atricapilla

Willow Warbler

Phylloscopus trochilis

Chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

Firecrest

Regulus ignicapillus

Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula hypoleuca

Long-tailed Tit

Aegithalos caudatus

Crested Tit

Parus cristatus

2

9/11/00

Bielsa

road to Espierba

Coal Tit

Parus ater

Blue Tit

Parus caeruleus

Great Tit

Parus major

Nuthatch

Sitta europaea

Short-toed Treecreeper

Certhia brachydactyla

Penduline Tit

Remiz pendulinus

3

14/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Remiz pendulinus

x

15/9/00

Poble nou

La Noria

Southern grey shrike

Lanius meridionalis

3

13/9/00

Gelsa

A 1105

Lanius meridionalis

1

13/9/00

Alborge - Bujaraloz

A 2105

Woodchat Shrike

Lanius senator

1

9/10/00

Alcolea de Cinca - Monzon

A 130

1

13/9/00

Gelsa

A 1105

1

13/9/00

Albatarrec

Jay

Garullus glandarius

Magpie

Pica pica

1

9/10/00

Torrefarrera

F1-hotel

Alpine Chough

Pyrrhocorax graculus

4

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

3

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Carrion Crow

Corvus corone corone

20

9/10/00

Ballobar

El Basal

Raven

Corvus corax

Starling

Sturnus sp.

1

15/9/00

Poble nou

L' Encanyissada

Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Spotless Starling

Sturnus unicolor

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Chaffinch

Fringilla coelebs

Serin

Serinus serinus

Citril Finch

Serinus citrinella

1

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador

Greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

Linnet

Carduelis cannabina

Robin

Ericathus rubecula

Cirl Bunting

Emberiza cirlus

Rock Bunting

Emberiza cia

5

9/11/00

Monte perdido

Eastern climb from Parador