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Bird-watching in Navarre


Lagoons and reservoirs

In general

Wetlands are not abundant in Navarre and most are small.

In the north, most are artificial and generally unattractive to birds and other water organisms. There are still some natural examples in the south (often endorreic), re-dammed in order to increase their capacity to feed irrigation systems in the past. These wetlands are the most interesting in the community, their having mature vegetation and being of certain significance in terms of size.

The most important of these in Navarre are Laguna de Pitillas and Embalse de Las Cañas (in Viana), both declared Ramsar and ZEPA wetlands. There are also others of less importance but which are still generally of ornithological interest.

During recent years, the rice fields planted over the last few decades in the Ribera region have gained certain importance in terms of birds.


Wetlands concentrate within a small space a good number of interesting vegetable and animal organisms, birds being the most spectacular of these. The presence of birds and the composition of their communities change considerably over the year. The amount of water also has a significant influence, the number and species of birds present varying a great deal each year on the same date. The types of birds present also differ according to the depth of the waters, the vegetation covering it, the percentage of open water, the size, etc. i.e. the characteristics of each wetland.

The following breeding water birds should be highlighted: the Mallard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Night Heron, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilt, Common Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Baillon?s Crake, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola. Scarcer are the Gadwall, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Sociable Lapwing, Common Redshank and Bearded Tit. The Reed Bunting would appear to be practically extinct as a nesting species and the Purple Swamp-hen is a new arrival.

A lot of species from the centre and north of Europe arrive in the winter, such as the Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Great White Egret, Sociable Lapwing, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull and Reed Bunting.

During migration and in addition to all of those already mentioned, it is also possible to spot the Garganey, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black Stork, many wading birds, Yellow-legged Gull, Black Tern, etc...

These environments also produce the greatest number of sightings of rarities.