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Terres de l'Ebre 
© Roberto Bueno
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© Isabel Oltra
© Alain Fabre
© Roberto Bueno
© Àngel Pérez

SebesNature Reserve

Sebes, the best place to see and take photographs of the kingfisher

The Sebes and Meandro de Flix Wildlife Nature Reserve covers a large area of wetlands on the banks of the Ebro river near the village of Flix (Ribera d’Ebre county). In a similar way to natural areas in English speaking countries, this is a pioneering management experience of a natural area by a local NGO, Grupo de Naturaleza Freixe (Freixe Nature Group).

Thanks to their initiative and the involvement of different institutions, foundations and administrations, they have since 1993, been able carry out different action to conserve different species, improve habitats, do research projects, create educational programmes, and provide infrastructures and custody agreements with private owners, which has all gone towards making this small natural area a point of reference on a national level.

Among the activities which can be done are those related to bird watching, with routes and walkways which take you into the wetlands, observatories etc. which are also adapted for people with reduced mobility.

This is a privileged place for bird watching, as it is situated in an area of highly contrasting habitats: on the one hand there are the wetlands and all of the species to be found there, and on the other, the surrounding semi-arid area with olive trees and low vegetation.

In the autumn it is an area of intense migratory movement, strategically placed around the Ebro River, where it is possible to see lots of different species. However, one that is always present throughout the year, and catches the attention of photographers and bird watchers alike is the kingfisher.

Sebes, the best place to see and take photographs of the kingfisher

Of the three observatories in the wetlands, the one at the lake is undoubtedly the best place to watch how this colourful bird develops. The lake was restored in 1993 within the framework of a project to improve habitats on the reserve, carried out simultaneously with the recovery of floodable meadows, thanks to Camargue horses pasturing there.

Permanent action is being carried out at the lake to make sure that it does not get covered with vegetation, through manual cutting and the participation of volunteers from the reserve. Canals and islands are being created and suitable perches installed near to observation points. Electric fishing also takes place to control exotic species from larger predators, and in this way, favouring the presence of small fish which are a great food source for many species of birds. Thanks to this action at the lake and the surrounding area there are many birds breeding there, such as the little bittern, Eurasian reed warbler, Eurasian penduline, little grebe, western marsh harrier and even a colony of 8-10 pairs of purple herons.

The availability of suitable reservoirs makes this lake an ideal place for the kingfisher to feed, whilst also breeding on the slopes in the reserve. In fact this bird spends a great part of its life in this lake environment. It can be seen here when mating, feeding chicks while they are learning to fish, when examples arrive during migration or during hibernation when the intense cold has been known to freeze over the lake. During these winter months this feeding area is shared with another emblematic species; the Eurasian bittern.

Many people already know the fame of the kingfisher on the Sebes reserve through images on the internet. Now it is your turn to have this marvellous photographic experience in person, and observe what you can only see in a place like this. Oh and there are also a few added surprises, some very uncommon, rare species. We look forward to seeing you!