Tres cheers for Spanish restoration

Estany d’Ivars i Vila-sana in it’s hay-dayfortunately, the newly restored lake is now a wildlife haven

A second attempt to find Dupont’s Lark – this time visiting the excellent SEO Birdlife reserve at El Planeron – was only half successful, in that we heard a couple but failed to see anything in less than optimal conditions. After which, on the way home, we took a detour to Estany d’Ivars i Vila-sana. This lake, the largest in Catalonia, is a triumph of Spanish (Catalan) habitat restoration. The lake was historically seasonal but all that changed in the 1860’s with the creation of the Urgell Canal. The associated accumulation of ground water increased the size of the lake to around 135 ha, and it quickly became a centre of social, economic and cultural life for the surrounding villages. However, with the increased demand for irrigation and arable land meant that by 1951 the lake was completely dry, and it remained so for more than fifty years. But, with a community-backed initiative to buy out the 165 settlements and create the right conditions, the restoration of the lake began in earnest in 2002. It took four years for the lake to re-fill and the major expansion of biodiversity which followed. We walked the 6.5k path around the lake, enjoying water-birds, early migrants and resident species. The highlight was superb views of a pair of Penduline Tit nest-building – unfortunately the battery was flat on my camera so no pics! A last sea-watch this evening produced an excellent Black-throated Diver.

There were several pairs of bill-clacking White Stork around the lake
Record shot of this evening’s diver
This entry was posted in Birding.

One comment on “Tres cheers for Spanish restoration

  1. Martin Coates says:

    I’ve never seen a Black-throated Diver in the Med but most of my winter sea watching has been much further south. I bit jealous therefore! I assume they migrate north overland in pretty much ‘one hop’

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