Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Southern Catalonia:
Ebro Delta Winter Break

ebro deltaEscape from the British winter weather for a one centre break and some great birding in the wetlands, mountains and steppes of Southern Catalonia. The Ebro Delta is the most important wetland on the Spanish Mediterranean coast and second largest in Iberia behind Donaña. It is an extensive marsh and rice producing area at the mouth of the River Ebro and it's filtrates still continue to change the shape and appearance of this huge area. In Winter vast numbers of waterbirds & wildfowl linger along the coastline and lagoons which in turn supports a large raptor population. We shall visit the limestone massif of Ports, the mountain chain that used to form the natural border of three autonomous regions - Catalonia, Valencia, & Aragon. The mountains, rivers and woodlands are home to much wildlife of all varieties. One day we will travel to the ‘Drylands of Alfas’ - a large area of natural grasses and cultivated fields holds good numbers of psuedo-steppe species in their winter flocks.

NB This is a one centre holiday staying in the excellent Delta Hotel situated in the heart of the wetland areas. Wildlife on your doorstep!

IbisDay 1:- Your guide will meet you at Barcelona Airport and immediately we shall head south to Spain's second largest wetland - the Ebro Delta, around a 2.5 hour transfer. If time allows we might stop off at one of the coastal towns and villages en-route looking for possibly Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Mediterranean & Audouin's Gulls, Sandwich Terns all of which winter in this area. Soon enough we will start and make our way through the extensive network of rice paddies that make up most of the delta. Great White, Cattle & Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Marsh Harriers should all be seen from the vehicle as we make our way to the hotel for the next five nights.

The Delta Hotel is a wonderful single storey building built in keeping with the traditional methods, it is surrounded by rice fields and consequently has lots of wildlife on its doorstep, making this an ideal location.

Days 2 - 5:-  Right on the hotel's doorstep is where thousands of birds come to spend their winter, and much of our time will be spent visiting the viewing platforms, hides and boardwalks which allow to search for birds over this vast and wonderful area. The extensive phragmites beds hold secretive Great Bittern, Purple & Squacco Herons, Water Rail as well as Bearded & Penduline Tit. We’ll scan the shallow lagoons for Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Caspian Terns, Audouin’s & Slender-billed Gulls and wintering waders such as Curlew, Black tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Kentish, Little Ringed & Golden Plovers, Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. Look out for the flash of blue as a Kingfisher speeds along the irrigation channels while Bluethroats can be found along the muddy tracks and Cetti’s Warblers announce their presence with explosive calls. We will watch the spectacle of scores of Marsh Harriers coming into roost, creating a fantastic aerial display. and the extensive rice fields will be in the early stages of preparation for the years harvest and can create a ‘feeding frenzy’ of egrets, herons and gulls as the tractors turn the rich dark earth.

We shall visit the limestone massif of Ports, the mountain chain that used to form the natural border of three autonomous regions - Catalonia, Valencia, & Aragon. The mountains, rivers and woods are home to many Iberian species such as Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Goshawk, Thekla Lark, Crag Golden EagleMartin, Dipper, Blue Rock Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Red-billed Chough, Nuthatch, Crested Tit, Rock & Cirl Bunting. This time of year brings the slight possibility of Alpine Accentor or even Wallcreeper, which can at the highest altitudes. Birds will not be our only focus as several mammal species are present including the endemic Iberian Ibex & Red Squirrel.

On one day we will embark on a journey to the ‘Drylands of Alfas’. This large area of natural grasses and cultivated fields holds good numbers of steppe species. Little Bustard and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse should be in their winter flocks with the possibility of Stone Curlew and Red legged Partridge seen along the rough edges. Large mixed flocks of ground birds will be feeding in the winter stubble with a high percentage of Calandra & Crested Larks being preyed on by hunting raptors such as Hen Harrier or Merlin.

Day 6:- After breakfast we will leave the hotel and return north to Barcelona ensuring we have enough time to stop at the wonderful Llobregat Delta. As its situated just 10 minutes from the airport terminal it makes an ideal location to finish the holiday. This small nature reserve has a network paths that lead to some excellent birdwatching hides. These lagoons can hold a surprising variety of wildfowl and waders, and combined with a visit to the nearby shore makes for a very pleasurable finale.

A modern hotel built entirely in – keeping with its surroundings at the heart of the Ebro Delta. A single storey structure, where all rooms are comfortably and tastefully furnished and offer full en-suite facilities.

What's been said...

Thanks for the recent trip and may I take this opportunity to say how enjoyable it was? I really enjoyed reading over your blog and having counted up (including the robin I found amongst some scrub at the airport) I totalled 138 species seen plus another couple heard. As a beginner to the Mediterranean, many of these were new to me though catching such good views of them was very important. I really appreciated your dedication and enthusiasm and the length of some of the days pays testimony to this. Over the few days I also feel my birding skills jumped up a level and I look forward to meeting up with you again some time, perhaps on one of the other trips.

Hugh Nicol

JHi Julian This message is much later than intended but I hope it finds you well. Hope the wolf trip went O.K. Thanks for a good visit to the Ebro Delta, we had a brilliant time and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to our friends. Hope to see you again soon.

Tony Danbury


Cost £825
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - £75
Deposit - £150
Maximum Group Size - 6

Price Includes:

  • 5 nights accommodation with en-suite facilities
  • All meals
  • All transport costs
  • Information pack
  • Daily check list
  • Use of field guides & maps

Price does not Include:

  • Flights to Barcelona
  • Extra food/drink to normal meal times
  • Travel & contents insurance
  • Items of personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities

Flights are not included in the prices quoted, however we are more than happy to help with finding suitable flights.

Train Travel - Train travel possible

NB - We are currently not running this short break but if you have an interest in this then please CONTACT us to arrange a possible TAILOR-MADE trip.

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Target Species:

  • Balearic Shearwater
  • Great Bittern
  • Great White Egret
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Ferruginous Duck
  • Griffon Vulture
  • Golden Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Red Kite
  • Marsh Harrier
  • Hen Harrier
  • Little Bustard
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Stone Curlew
  • Audouin's Gull
  • Slender billed Gull
  • Caspian Tern
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Pin tailed Sandgrouse
  • Calandra Lark
  • Lesser Short toed Lark
  • Bluethroat
  • Moustached Warbler
  • Penduline Tit
  • Spanish Ibex



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