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2 February: World Wetlands Day

27 February 2023

Last February 2, was World Wetlands Day, and although we would have liked to have been able to devote the necessary time to elaborate something in greater depth (because it is certainly a topic that deserves it), lack of time has not allowed us to do so. But still, even with two days of delay, we did not want to let the day pass without dedicating at least one line to it.

In the Pitiusas there are several areas that can be considered wetlands, but undoubtedly, the two most important are the Parc natural de Ses Salines d'Eivissa i Formentera, and Ses Feixes.

To this last area we will dedicate these few lines, but not to talk about Ses Feixes itself, because for that a few lines are not enough, but to introduce you to one of the species that can be found in this wetland.

The species in question, contrary to what might be expected because it is a wetland, is not a waterfowl. It is the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), a passerine bird with a size similar to that of a sparrow, and whose diet is basically composed of seeds and plants.

 Escribano palustre hembra
Female of the reed bunting.

Femella escribano palustre Emberiza schoeniclusFemale of the reed bunting.

macho escribano palustre emberiza schoeniclus
Male of the reed bunting.

ornitología eivissa
Male of the reed bunting.

There are two breeding subspecies in the Iberian Peninsula of the Iberian reed bunting. On the one hand, the western Iberian reed bunting (E. s. lusitánica), whose breeding areas are located in the Atlantic area (Portugal, Galicia and Cantabria mostly). On the other hand, we have the Iberian-eastern marsh bunting (E. s. witherbyil), which occupies some Mediterranean areas, among which is the Albufera d'Alcudia, in Mallorca. Both species are in a state that has certain parallels with Ses Feixes: their survival is seriously threatened. Both the western Iberian reed bunting and the eastern Iberian reed bunting have been suffering a significant decline in the number of breeding pairs, and both are at risk of becoming extinct due to the degradation of their natural habitats.

Apart from the breeding species, during the winter months we get from northern Europe specimens of the nominal species, the northern reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus schoeniclus), and this will be the only species, unfortunately, we will get to see in the Pitiusas.

ornitologia Ibiza

Wetlands, as far as avifauna is concerned, are not only important for waterfowl, many birds belonging to other groups, also have, to a greater or lesser extent, dependence on them. The worrying state of the populations of "our" two species of marsh bunting is partly a reflection of the disastrous management that we almost always do as a society of wetlands and water resources in general.

Ses Feixes is the most important wetland with fresh water in Eivissa and Formentera, but that has not prevented it from being split in two, surrounded by concrete and asphalt on all four sides. Ses Feixes is a place with almost as many absurdities and senselessness, as biodiversity.

Ses Feixes del Prat de Ses MongesThe two parts into which the Ses Feixes wetland is divided: Ses Feixes de Prat de Vila, and Ses Feixes de Prat de Ses Monges. 

In these two islets of tremendous ecological value, they fight against each other in an antagonistic way authentic stupidities such as irrational urbanism, colonies of felines, invasive species ... and its spectacular avifauna, for which there are more than 140 different citations. Despite its deplorable state, this wetland survives and continues to be an important resting point for migrant species that pass through the island during migration, as well as resident, wintering and summer species.

Ocells d´Eivissa i Formentera
Female of the reed bunting.

aves de Ibiza y Formentera
Female of the reed bunting.

birding Ibiza
Male of the reed bunting.

Ibiza birding
Male of the reed bunting.

Text and photographs: own elaboration.

To learn more:

- El escribano palustre.
- Ses Feixes, datos de interés.
- El escribano palustre en España.
- Avifauna de Ses Feixes d´Eivissa.
- Galería ebird del escribano palustre.

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