Monday 20 August 2018

Spain #2: Parc Natural del Aiguamolls, Empuriabrava

Spent an evening and then from dawn at the Parc Natural del Aiguamolls wetland near Empuriabrava, south of Roses. At 4,800 hectares, it is a big reserve, second only in a Catalonian context to the Ebro Delta, with freshmarsh, saltmarsh, dunes and beach. It seems to be actively managed for wildlife, with horses being used for grazing the fresh marsh, which was interesting, together with herds of Fallow Deer and escaped Coypu. Visitors are well catered-for, with an impressive viewing platform atop a high grain silo-esque tower, several hides and some education buildings, loos and car park. Details here.

 Early morning view from one of the hides.

 The watch tower. Pretty impressive.

One of the exceptionally tame Coypus.

Mid-August gave only a hint of what the site had to offer, with much of the site dry. On the couple of pools still present and adult Little Stint was the highlight, along with Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Green and Common Sandpipers and Water Rails. A few Marsh Harriers patrolled and a smart ringtail Montagu's Harrier vied for bird of the morning. That accolade goes to a most unexpected Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, my first since the day my daughter was born, calling and showing well in an ash in the middle of the marsh!

Plenty of Zitting Cisticolas, Cetti's Warblers, Reed Warblers and Nightingales were present in the reedbeds and scrubby areas, and a fine Woodchat Shrike appeared as the day warmed up. Good numbers of White Storks, Grey and Purple Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets were seen, most heading inland from their roost. A few Bee-eaters were noted along with Red-backed Shrikes and Serins. This site is well worth a look if you are in the general area. Plenty of dragonflies were seen, but most were not identified, apart from a couple of Southern Migrant Hawkers.

White Storks and Southern Migrant Hawker.

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