The Ebro Delta is the largest wetlands in Catalonia and the main aquatic habitat in the western Mediterranean after the Camargue regional nature park in France and the second-largest in Spain after Doñana National Park. The Delta plays an important biological role, its interior containing large rice and vegetable fields and fruit orchards, whilst the coast is formed by one of the most attractive lakeland landscapes in the Mediterranean, with large, biologically rich lagoons. Finally, the Delta periphery is made up of large salt marshes and long, unspoilt sandy beaches with dunes.
Due to the Delta's ecological importance, many parts of it were declared a natural park in 1983. The Natural Park zones in Amposta are: Encanyissada, Tancada and Platjola lagoons, the Eucaliptus beach, the Baltasar springs and Sapinya Island.
The Ebro Delta is a wetland of international interest for birdlife, as it serves as a rest and wintering place, as well as being a breeding ground for many species. So rich and varied is the birdlife here thanks to this, that some 300 different species have been observed in the Delta.
The best time for birdwatching is autumn, when the arrival of wintering birds coincides with the passing of other migrating birds that rest here before continuing their journey further south to produce enormous diversity. Nonetheless, many interesting species can also be observed here in winter, including ducks: northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), wigeon (Anas penelope), shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), pochard (Aythya ferina) and waders: redshank (Tringa totanus), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), etc.
Though there is less diversity in summer, this is nevertheless the period when we can see some of the most attractive birds: purple heron (Ardea purpurea), black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus). Non-migratory species that can be seen throughout the year include common egret (Egretta garcetta), cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Audouin's gull (Larus audouinii), etc. Both summer and sedentary species nest in the Delta, usually in early spring, after which comes the egg-laying period, with chicks hatching in late-spring or early-summer.
Vegetation and flora
The vegetation in the more humid places is markedly different from that in the rest of the area. Some riverside forest, which used to cover the entire Delta in its thick blanket, still remains around the river banks, with white poplar (Populus alba), willow (Salix sp), salt cedar (Tamarix sp) and river honeysuckle (Lonicera biflora). The lagoons are surrounded by plants with underwater roots, such as reeds (Phragmites communis), cattails (Typha sp) and sedge (Carex sp). Near the sea, in the saltier ground, glasswort (Salicornia sp) is the principal representative of the many plants that have adapted to the high salt content in the soil. Finally, the dunes on the long beaches of find sand provide the habitat for such plants as marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) and sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum).
The confluence of salt and fresh water in the Delta gives rise to a huge wealth and diversity of fish species.
The best places for river fishing are in Amposta and Balada, whilst the jetty in the Eucaliptus beach is the finest spot for Mediterranean sea fishing.