ORNITHOLOGY

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The Urkulu Reservoir:  This beautiful reservoir, part of the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, lies only 2km from the Casa Rural.  The beauty of the surrounding landscape makes it an incomparable setting for birdwatching.

Urkulu is one of the reservoirs of central Euskadi of greatest ornithological interest, being the reservoir where the largest concentration of great crested grebe in Guipuzkoa spend their winters.

A total of 99 species breed in Urkulu and the surrounding area, including the great crested grebe, a species whose only breeding ground in Guipuzkoa is the Urkulu Reservoir.  The imposing grey heron can also be found all year round.

Urkulu is an important hibernation and resting ground for migrating birds.  127 species have been recorded there, 36 of which are listed in the Basque catalogue of threatened species and 24 in the ‘Libro Rojo’ (Red Book) of Spanish birds.

Alava Wetlands:  Less than an hour from Areano lies the Ullibarri Reservoir.  Beside it lies perhaps the most ornithologically interesting place in Euskadi, the Salburua Wetlands.

Ullibarri/Gamboa and Salburua form the Basque Country’s most important nesting ground for aquatic birds.  Salburua is frequented by anatidae that rarely breed elsewhere on the Iberian Peninsula, such as the garganey, the northern shoveller, the gadwall (which can also be found in Ullíbarri/Gamboa), and in some years, the tufted duck.  Large populations of little bittern breed in Salburua, and great crested grebe in Ullíbarri/Gamboa respectively, where the grey heron has also been recorded.  A large variety of aquatic birds winter in the wetlands, including the greylag goose.  The wetlands are also visited by the black stork, the Eurasian spoonbill, waders, terns and, in particular, the aquatic warbler.  Ullíbarri/Gamboa also welcomes significant populations of red-crested pochards during the post-breeding migration season and the black-necked grebe during the winter.  This reservoir has also acted as an important entry point to the Iberian Peninsula for the ruddy duck, a non-native species that is able to hybridise with the native white-headed duck.