Sebes is small Nature Reserve about 20 mins drive from us, on the outskirts of the town of Flix. There are 206 hectares in total which runs in a fairly narrow strip alongside the left bank of the River Ebro. It consists of reedbeds, river islands, tamarisk woods, lagoons and riverside woods of willow and poplar and hence has a rich bird-life both of nesting birds and visiting migrants – especially as it forms an eco-bridge between the drylands to the North and the Mediterranean climate and coastline to the south. In total, about 200 species of bird have been sighted here.
There are 3 hides at the reserve and among the birds to be seen are Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Purple heron, Grey heron,Marsh Harrier, Black Kite and Little Bittern. If you are very lucky you may see Great Bittern during the winter – which I’m pleased to say I did last December. If you are extremely lucky you may even see otter – which has been glimpsed a few times over the last couple years. An excellent indicator of a healthy water system!
There is a very good information centre – “Mas del Director” which has interesting displays about the flora and fauna of the reserve. From the Centre you can walk to 2 of the hides overlooking small lagoons. The opening times are:
Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 14:00
Saturday 9:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 18:00 pm
Sunday from 9:00 to 14:00
(The reserve itself and hides are always open -irrespective of the Information Centre being open)
Sebes is however, probably best known for its successful reintroduction of the White Stork. White Stork had ceased to breed in the Lands of the Ebro in the late 1930’s due to loss of habitat caused by industrialisation and pollution. So, in 2001, twenty chicks were brought from Lleida and were raised in an enclosure. They were liberated in 2003 and 2 pairs began to breed there. The project was repeated a couple of years later and now there is a breeding colony of around 14 pairs. The colony can be seen from close quarters at the top end of the Reserve and it is always a delight to see the pairs on their nests and to hear their bill-clattering greetings. The Storks are normally present from January to July. It is thought that they winter a little further North where there is a more abundant winter food supply but they usually start to return in January. By April you can see the new chicks starting to bob their heads above the nest.
Once the chicks are big enough they are ringed and I had a great experience last June when I visited on ringing day! Shortly after the chicks are fledged the birds leave though they may make occasional visits back during the following months.
In addition to the Storks and other birds you will also have chance to see a herd of Camargue horses which are a key element in the success of the stork re-introduction.
Also, the track which goes through the reserve is a local walking route called the Cami de la Sirga -“The Towpath” which also forms a section of the long-distance footpath, the GR99. The Towpath is a story in itself and a short distance further on from the Mas del Director there is a little museum with audiovisuals telling its history. Entry to the museum has to be pre-arranged.
How to get to Sebes Nature reserve:
From Mora d’Ebre take the C12 to Flix. Follow the road over the dam bridge. The road to the reserve is immediately to the left as you leave the bridge but do not try to turn here. Continue for 50 yds or so. You will see a sign for Sebes which takes you into a turning circle. Head back towards the bridge now from the other direction and take the unpaved road just before the bridge.
One other thing: Nature reserves in Spain are supported heavily by banks and to a lesser extent with subsidies from regional and local governments. As you can imagine funds have been drastically cut over the last few years. Staff have already been lost and hours for the remaining ones cut. Please – donate what you can in the box in the information centre or buy a t-shirt, some postcards, a book…. . Every little helps as they say. 🙂