A long weekend to the Ebro Delta, Spain 12th ~ 15th December.
The target was Slender-billed Gull, it was a bit of a gamble as most would be wintering further south but we had hoped for some to over-winter on the breeding grounds ..
Flew into Reus Airport and headed for the Delta leaving us with a couple of hours before dark on the 12th.
The Delta has a patchwork of rice fields, some flooded which attract lots of birds 600+ Glossy Ibis in one flock, Great White & Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Purple Swamphens, Black-heads, Lessers & Yellow-legs all so flighty that when approached by car or on foot would fly from some distance away.
All morning of the 13th was in the north of the Delta trying unsuccessfully to get near anything at various sites and no Slenders, so we switched to the south and headed straight for Punta de la Banya which has a 5km narrow sand bar which you drive to get to the saltpans our luck changed and we located one Slender-bill, like the rest of the delta species this wasn't playing the game either.
When you entered its comfort zone the bird just moved away time and again.
We spent the rest of the afternoon with the bird until the light started to fade and then tried a fishing port, Sant Carles de la Rapita the light was wrong but loads of Yellow-legs.
First light of the 14th after coffee we were at Sant Carles port and with no boats coming in, the gulls just roosted out of the harbour, so off to Punta de la Banya and quickly located a Slender-bill.
We drove up and down that sandbar many times and finally totalled 4 Slender-bills. The light was quite nice late afternoon with dead flat carm sea.
Still the gulls kept there distance and seemed to not tolerate each others presents this was when some of the better opportunities for images happened but always just to far away.
So opted for the more artistic style of crops with some of the images ..
Slender-billed Gull ~ 1st. W
Slender-billed Gull ~ 2nd. W
This is based on the bill and leg colour only, although secondaries do seem a shade darker, this bird shows no dark markings to alula, greater primary coverts and also has a dark eye which are not 2nd. winter features as descibed by Olsen & Larsson.
So hopefully I've got this right but probably this isn't aged correctly.
Would appreciate others views on this ...
Slender-billed Gull ~ Ad. W
We did try again for the Slender-bills on the morning of the 15th, now what with the tide they were just to far away ..
Happy with yesterdays results, we gave in and tried another harbour at L' ampolla stopping for something to eat before returning to Reus airport ..
Also at Sant Carles harbour was one 2nd. winter Auduoin's and two adults at L'ampolla harbour ..
A great short trip with the odds stacked against us, came good in the end, now a late spring visit would be more productive !!