Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Cranes Spectacular & Ebro Delta

Ebro DeltaA Winter visit to the steppes & lagoons of Gallacanta followed by the Ebro Delta will be a fantastic wildlife spectacle not to be missed :-

At over 670 hectares Gallocanta Lagoon formed in an endorric basin is one of the largest inland bodies of water within Spain, and represents the wintering grounds for well over 10,000+ Common Cranes that start arriving from late-October. An evening visit to witness the sight and sound of 1000's of cranes flying in to roost will be something to remember for a long, long time. Areas of steppe, agriculture and mountain surround the lagoon and add to the diversity of the whole terrain. This whole area is rarely visited by people outside of Iberia and consequently has maintained it's authentic rural charm.

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.

Day 1:- During the day we meet at Valencia Airport and depending on time and other arrivals we shall probably spend some time at the nearby wetland of Moro Marsh. This excellent coastal reserve is home to a small breeding population of Crested Coot and we have a good chance of finding one amongst their commoner cousins. Also here we should find plenty wildfowl and wetland birds including Little Grebe, Cattle & Little Egret, Shoveler, Red Crested Pochard, Gadwall, Pintail, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Purple Gallinule, Water Rail, Avocets, Green & Common Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Common Snipe, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, with the good possibility of a Bluethroat, Water Pipit, Moustached or Cetti's Warbler along the tracks of reedbed fringes. In the afternoon we shall head inland to Monreal del Campo and our hotel for the next two nights.

Day 2:-  After breakfast we will set off out to explore the steppes of Blancas driving the various tracks looking for Black bellied Sandgrouse, Little & Great Bustards, Stone Curlew, Griffon Vulture, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Merlin, Red billed Chough, Raven, Rock & Tree Sparrows, Calandra, Thekla & Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Black Redstarts. We will also visit the Gallocanta Visitor Centre before driving around the lake viewing from the several watchpoints hopefully finding Great Crested Grebes, Grey Lag Geese, Eurasian Teal, Shoveler, Marsh Harriers, Golden Eagle, or a patrolling Peregrine Falcon. The last hour of daylight will be spent watching the huge flocks of Common Cranes coming in to roost from the surrounding fields and a magical experience to end the day with.

Days 3, 4 & 5:- After breakfast we shall load up the minibus and head east to the coast through one of the most rural parts of Spain until we reach the Medterranean coast where the mighty Ebro River exits into the sea. Right on the hotel's doorstep is Iberia’s second largest wetland, where thousands of birds come to spend the winter, and much of our time will be spent visiting the viewing platforms, hides and boardwalks which allow excellent viewing out over this wonderful habitat. 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.

On one day 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 & Bonelli’s Eagle, Goshawk, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, 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 Squirrels and the elusive Beech Marten.

Day 6:- Once we are ready we will leave our hotel and spend a while visiting a couple more sites on the Ebro Delta before heading south towards Valencia and depending on time and any remaining target species we may visit one of the sites en-route or re-visit Moro Marsh due to it's close proximity to the airport.

A two-centre holiday: Both hotels have been selected for their location & facilities near the best viewing sites. They both offer en-suite facilities in pleasant surroundings.

What's been said...

Jules, just a quick thank you for the last 5 days. It was most enjoyable, the company was good, the hotels and food were very acceptable, but most importantly your know how enabled us to reach the total of birds that we ended up with. Most of all, thank you for being my eyes.

B Conduit

A slightly belated but very warm thank you for the trip, it was most enjoyable and everybody said how well you did, a big well done and thanks again. Really look forward to seeing you again in May, all the best.

R & J Palmer

Thanks for organising and conducting the trip, there were many memorable sights and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may try for the May Short Break but can't make the one in Sept, however some of the other European ones might also be of interest.

D MacBean

We are still glowing from our visit to your lovely country earlier this week, unfortunately we have lost the list you gave us of your trips next year.

M & W Ball


Cost £775
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - None
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 Valencia
  • Extra food/drink to normal meal times
  • Travel & contents insurance
  • Items of personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities

Flights are not included in the price quoted, however we are happy to help arrange these for you if required at no extra cost.

14th - 19th November 2011
(see icon guide)

Target Species:

  • Great White Egret
  • Great Bittern
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Crested Coot
  • Golden Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Great Bustard
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Stone Curlew
  • Audouin's Gull
  • Slender billed Gull
  • Caspian Tern
  • Blk bellied Sandgrouse
  • Calandra Lark
  • Lesser Short toed Lark
  • Bluethroat
  • Moustached Warbler
  • Penduline Tit
  • Rock Bunting
  • Spanish Ibex
  • Red Squirrel


© Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays 2011.

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