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Birding in the Pyrenees

Guided birdwatching around Barcelona. Snow-covered peaks, alpine lakes, endless coniferous forests. This is a typical image of this 600 kilometers long range of mountains. But this huge territory includes far more. At lower altitudes we find a variety of valleys and landscapes. Narrow river valleys with splendid riverbanks until wide, flat, warm valleys with a strong Mediterranean influence. Up to 1.800 or 2.000 metres we find extensive Mountain Pine forests with scattered birch spots here and there. The highest altitudes are covered by rocks, grasslands and lichens. In winter these highlands are the snow and ice kingdom (more).

It is this diversity of ecosystems that launches the area as one of the best birding hotspots in Europe. Raptors and forest-living species as well as some steppe & wetland species make it a must for any birder.

Day 1. This first day we would explore both extensive cereal steppes as well as some restored wetlands in the middle of the crops and steppe-like vegetation. Our first spot would be the wetlands: Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Penduline Tit and Great Reed Warbler are common breeders here. This patch is an important roost area for many passage birds and in winter becomes shelter for thousands of ducks, gulls, egrets and raptors of every kind.

In the afternoon we would visit Mediterranean scrub areas, small pinewoods and crop lands expecting to find some steppe-land birds including Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, Ortolan Bunting, Black Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler, W. Orphean Warbler or Roller. Little Bustard has high densities in those fields all year round.

Day 2. This morning would provide an interesting number of raptors that may include Cinereous Vulture, Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Red and Black Kites and the commoner Griffon Vulture. We would explore some interesting woodlands in the very heart of the Catalan Pyrenees that would provide us with a variety of smaller birds including Common Crossbill, Wryneck, Citril Finch, Bullfinch, Rock Bunting and Rock Thrush.

In the afternoon we'll explore a Mountain Pine forest at up to 2.100 metres altitude. In these forests and in the grasslands around we would find Black Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Ring Ouzel or Water Pipit. The area is also noted for Capercaille and raptors.

Day 3. An early start to discover the gorgeous cliffs inside the Boumort-Montsec Game Reserve. In an average day the four species of vultures would appear as all of them do breed in the area. Golden,  Booted and Short-toed Eagles are not uncommon. This Game Reserve is also noted for Black Woodpecker, W Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler and Blue Rock Thrush  and provides winter ground to Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor.

In the afternoon we'll explore some wetlands and small rocky areas expecting to find Rock Sparrow,
Zitting Cisticola and others. The rare Bonelli's Eagle is a uncommon resident here and it can easily appear.

Day 4. In spring and summer we'll explore the renowned Cerdanya Valley, a massive plain in the middle of the mountains famous for the beauty of its scenery. The area hosts a variety of birds all year round: European Bee-eater, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Whitethroat and Bonelli's Warbler are summer visitors. Hen Harrier and Hawfinch winter here while Rock Sparrow and Red Kite are resident key species.

During winter we'll also explore uplands until 2.000 metres expecting to find Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper, Alpine Chough or the very scarce Snow Finch.

Even though this day planning schedule contains references to some winter birds, the itinerary above describes a standard mid-spring tour. This itinerary may have slight variations depending on the season. Please contact us for a seasonally updated tour schedule.


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