Tag Archives: Birdwatching

Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria.
  • Province: Cantabria.
  • Declared a Natural Park:
  • Park surface area: 6,500 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park is an estuary in Cantabria, protected as a natural park. It is one of the wetlands of most ecological value in the north of Spain. It is used as a winter refuge and migratory passage by many species of birds.

The marshes are formed by the Asón River and the park occupies over 6,500 hectares distributed among the municipalities of Argoños, Bárcena de Cicero, Colindres, Escalante, Laredo, Limpias, Noja, Santoña and Voto.

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Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena

The Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena (in Aragonese Refuchio de Fauna Silvestre d’a Lacuna de Sarinyena ) is a wildlife refuge located in Los Monegros in the south of the province of Huesca. The refuge, which has an area of ​​604 hectares was declared as a protected natural area for the first time on April 4 1995. It is located within the municipality of Sariñena between the basins of the Alcanadre and Flumen rivers. In 2001, the natural space was also declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) together with the other nearby lagoon of the Balsa de la Estación.

The Sariñena lagoon is endorheic meaning that its waters have a very high concentration of salts.

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Bearded Vulture – Gypaetus barbatus – Quebrantahuesos

  • English: Bearded Vulture
  • Spanish: Quebrantahuesos
  • Alternative names / spellings: Lammergeier, Lammergeyer, Lammergeir.
  • Catalan: Trencalòs

The Bearded Vulture – Gypaetus barbatusQuebrantahuesos is one of the largest raptors in Spain and also the rarest. It has a wingspan of 2.8 m and length of around 1.10 m. The dark, narrow wings taper to a point while the tail is long and wedge shaped. The body, legs and head are a dirty white although they deliberately stain this to a dark orange colour using iron oxides contained in calcareous rock where available. They have dark feathers around the eyes and it is the long bristles draped beside the bill which leads to the English common name of Bearded Vulture.

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Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

  • Region: Catalunya.
  • Province: Tarragona.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1983.
  • Park surface area: Land: 8.445 hectares (including 2,578 hectares of nature reserves) – Marine: 564 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance 1993.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds (of the 700 that exist in Europe) have been observed at the Delta. This includes resident, pre and post-nuptial migration as well as wintering flocks. It is the second largest wetland in the western Mediterranean. (The first being the Camargue in France.)

Amposta: MónNatura Delta Entrance Ticket and Guided Tour

Discover the MónNatura Delta center on a guided tour and learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Enjoy the views of the delta, and try your hand at traditional punting along the canals.

This river outlet has been shaped over centuries by sea storms and river flooding and around 45 percent of the delta is less than 50cm above sea level. It is consantly being created and reshaped by sediment build up from river flooding and sand deposit/erosion from wave action. There are two large, shallow coastal lagoons partially enclosed by long sand spits, El Fangar and Els Alfacs. These shallow bays, salt marshes, fresh water springs, reed beds, dunes, sand bars and islands are habitats that are further protected as Reserves within the park area.

Man has adapted most of the delta area by planting rice fields fed by a network of irrigation canals. These, along with the salt pans, add to the natural ecosystems for the fauna when cared for correctly. Surrounded by an area of human exploitation the diverse wealth of the delta continues through the protection of the park status.

Find a a hotel close to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro


The Park can be subdivided into nine basic zones of interest.

  • Llacuna de les Olles: This is the smallest lagoon of the delta and an interesting area between the beach and lagoon.
  • La Punta del Fangar: This is an area with a sand surface of around 410 hecyares which can be visited by car, bike or by foot.
  • Llacuna del Canal Vell: With an extension of 235 hectares.
  • Desembocadura: The zone of the opening of the Ebro includes the protected natural areas of the Garxal (280 hectares), illa of Sant Antoni (170 hectares) and illa of Buddha .
  • Riu i Platja de Migjorn: The Migjorn river is an old opening of the Ebro that surrounds l’Illa by Buddha (the island of Buddha). The area is an accessible zone by car from San Jauma (town nearby)
  • Llacuna de la Tancada: Over 300 hectares and visiting this area by car or bicycle is recommendable. Flamingo’s and many different species of ducks are frequently seen in this lagoon.
  • Punta de la Banya: The atmosphere in this area is very interesting. A great amount of birds stay here during the winter. The access is restricted with exception of the days between the 15 of July and the 15 of September, without leaving the beach the area can be entered by car.
  • Llacuna de l’Encanyissada: With an extension of 1192 hestares this is the greatest lagoon of the Delta.
  • Ullals de Baltasar: This is the only fresh water lagoon of the entire delta. It is not a well-known zone but is well worth a visit.
Ebro Delta: Lagoons of the Southern Delta Guided Tour

Discover the southern part of the Ebro Delta. Visit its largest lagoons, admire their natural beauty, and get to know the essence of this unique place on a guided tour.


Sandy areas and shore lines are dominated by plants that have adapted to high salinity, all of which aid in fixing the dunes. The most common species to be found here are clump forming Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria subsp. arundinacea), Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias), Sand couch grass (Elymus farctus subsp. farctus), Yellow-flowered rest harrow (Ononis natrix), Fleshy-leaf  thymelaea (Thymelaea hirsuta), huge pampas like Silk grass (Erianthus ravennae) and the summer flowering white Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum).

Thick reed-beds are seen where the water table is high and the area is frequently inundated. The most characteristic plants include Common reed (Phragmites australis), the taller Phragmites australis subsp. chrysanthus and pink flowering Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella).

Two plants that grow here which have been used for traditional weaving crafts are Great fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus) and Bulrush (Typha sp).

Along the river banks, where there is less salt, a tree lined corridor has formed consisting of White poplar (Populus alba), White willow (Salix alba), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Ash (Fraxinus sp.), Field elm (Ulmus minor), and climbers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera biflora).

Approaching the sea this woodland is replaced by Oleander (Nerium oleander) and Tamarisk species.

In the “ullals”, freshwater ponds fed by springs are White water lily (Nymphaea alba), Greater pond sedge (Carex riparia), Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Galingale (Cyperus longus), Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Parsley Water-dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii) and carpets of introduced Water fern (Azolla caroliniana).


The list of birds within the park is extensive, however those that are most famed are the Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii), a rare bird which has its largest breeding colonies here as a summer visitor along with Squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea) and Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus).

Residents include Great white egret (Ardea alba), Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber), Red-knobbed coot (Fulica cristata) and Purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).
Some wintering species are Booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Richard’s pipit (Anthus richardi), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) and Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis).

Passage migrants include Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and Roller (Coracias garrulus).

Reptiles and amphibians include many Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) and Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).

Numbers of Stripeless tree frogs (Hyla meridionalis) have seriously diminished as have the Iberian green frog (Rana perezi) and the Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus). Toads include the common toad (Bufo bufo) and the Western spade-foot (Pelobates cultripes).

Amongst the lizards are Spanish psammodromus (Podarcis hispanica) which are more frequently seen than the Spiny-footed lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus) and the Spanish Sand Racer (Psammodromus algirus). Moorish and Turkish geckos (Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus) can be seen around buildings.

Culture Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

Three themes: “Archaeology: from Prehistory to the Middle Ages”; “The Ebro, Waterway”; and “The Ebro Delta” can be seen at Montsià Museum in the town of Amposta. (Obligatory visit and very interesting!)

Information/Visitors Centers

Many of the towns and villages in the area have their own municipal information centres and museums. (The Montsià Museum in Amposta is particularily interesting).

However, the obligatory place to find out how to get the best out of a visit to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro is the Casa de Fusta.

Natural Park Information Point – Casa de Fusta – (Partida L’Encanyissada, s/n – Poble Nou del Delta, Amposta)

The “Casa de Fusta” (Wooden House) is one of the most emblematic buildings of the Ebro Delta. It was built in the 1920’s by a group of hunters who settled in the delta attracted by the quantity and variety of aquatic hunting opportunities (ducks!) . Now it houses the Ebro Delta Interpretation Centre and the ornithological museum.

Also visit these information points

  • Poble Nou de la Delta (Viewing point and cycle lane).
  • Oficina Municipal de Turismo – Plaça González Isla, L’Ampola.
  • Patronato Municipal de Turismo – Sant Joan 55, L’Ametlla de mar.

The official Amposta tourism website is here.

Natural parks in Catalonia

More natural parks, walking and wildlife holidays can be found here on the index page for Catalonia: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/catalonia-catalunya-cataluna/

Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum! https://iberianatureforum.com/