For many, Catalonia rose to fame in 2017 during its last attemp to become a full independent State from Spain, in what was another chapter in the long, rather tortuous history of disagreements between both countries. This sophisticated, open-minded land keeps a strong and different personality, as it has clearly differentiated language, culture, gastronomy and history. It borders on France and Andorra to the north, and the Spanish regions of Aragón and València to the west and south.
Despite its relatively small size (a bit more than 30.000sq kilometers), Catalonia can count itself as one of the European regions with a widest range of birdlife. And this is not surprising when considering its vast array of ecosystems that goes from everything in between alpine grasslands to semi desertic areas, and from coastal salt marshes to boreal forests. This is a land of contrasts, where in the morning you can see Lammergeiers and Black Woodpecker in the dramatic Pyrenees and in the afternoon enjoy the special Little bustard “jumps” in the steppes.
Thanks to its privileged geographical location at the North-East corner of the Iberian Peninsula, this is also an excellent area for migratory birds as many passerines fly directly from Algeria to Mallorca, and from there to the Catalan coast. When easterlings blow from the Mediterranean, specialities such as Red-footed Falcon, Red-throated Pipit, Collared Flycatcher and Icterine Warbler can appear in good numbers!
This tour explores the region in the best moment for bird migration, but it is also a great moment as all summer visitors are already back to their nesting territories, and the whole area is full with the songs of Warblers and Flycatchers!
Our tour shall start in Barcelona, the iconic city by the Mediterranean, from where we will drive southwards through opulent wineyards to arrive to Ebro Delta, one of the major wetlands in the Mediterranean Sea. Here we will be granted with spectacular flocks of Greater Flamingoes and Glossy Ibises while in search of specialities such as Caspian Tern, Collared Pratincole, Audouin’s & Slender-billed Gulls, Savi’s Warbler and an excellent variety of nesting terns, and migratory passerines and waders. From here we will drive northwards to explore the dry lands around Lleida. This landscape, mid way between tradional farming and natural grassland, holds an impressive list of birds, and supports good densities of sough-after birds including Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Ortolan Bunting, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Montagu’s Harriers to name a few. An incursion into neightbouring Aragón will allow us to contact with Black-bellied Sandgrouses while searching for the extremely elusive Dupont’s Lark.
The gentle ondulations of this will lead us to the mighty Pyrenees where we will explore gorges, extensive pine forests, almond orchards and alpine grasslands in search of long array of goodies including Lammergeier and Wallcreeper (small chances) but also Citril Finch, Cinereous Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Black Woodpecker and, if lucky, Tengmalm’s Owl. From the mountains we will step down to the enchanting Empordà plain. Here we will look for migratory scarcities that may easily include Little Crake, White-winged Black Tern, Great Snipe, Red-footed Falcon or Black-winged Black Kite along with a superb array of migratory waders and herons before going ending our tour back in Barcelona.
At the end of the tour, our list will increase over 210 species!
A book to know more about Catalonia: “The time of the doves” (1962) by Mercè Rodoreda (1908-1983).
|Days 1 & 2. Ebre Delta. Meet and wellcome at Barcelona International airport or in another place Previously agreed. This first day we will explori Ebre Delta, where we will spend two nights. We will have two full days to explori this vast wetland and the variety of birds that it hosts. Greater Flamingo, corsa s & Slender-billed Gulls, Glossy Ibis, Western Swamphen, Black-winged stilt, Whiskered Tern and Squacco Heron are all common! Collared Pratincole, Savi ‘s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Curlew Sandpiper are more scarce. Here the variety of migratory birds can include some Crakes along with scarcer species …|
|Day 3. Lleida Steppes. After breakfast we will have a last look to Ebro Delta before going to the inmense steppe area known as Los Monegros. There we will look for Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Rock Sparrow, Hoopoes, Turtle Dove, Iberian Grey Shrike, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Roller and, if lucky, Eagle Owl.
Day 4. Steppes. Full day in the steppes where we will look for Pin-tailed & Black-bellied Sandgrouses, Stone Curlews, Greater & Lesser Short-toed Larks and the always elusive Dunpont’s Lark… After a midday break we will spend the afternoon enjoying Thekla Larks, Tawny Pipit, Alpine Swift and Melodious Warbler. This day we will have our nocturnal safari, where we will have excellent sights on Red-necked Nightjar, Scops Owl, Long-eared Owl and Barn Owl!
|Day 5. Lleida Steppes. Morning birding in a different location in the steppes. Here there is an excellent density of Little Bustards and Rollers along with Great Spotted Cuckoos, Ortolan Buntings, Woodchat Shrikes and Subalpine and Orphean Warblers… The area hosts some pairs of Black-winged Kites…depending on the year! Arrival to the Pyrenees in the afternoon, where we will be two nights.|
|Day 6. Pyrenees. Morning birding in the almong orchads around our accommodation. Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck and Subalpine, Dartford & Sardinian Warblers can be easily seen. Along the day we will enjoy excellent views on Lammergeier but also Egyptian Vulture, Griffons and Black Vultures.|
|Day 7. Pyrenees. Morning birding to enjoy a number of amazing birds. We will visit a number of locations looking for Citril Finch, Common Rock Thrush, Alpine Chough, Common Crossbill, Ring Ouzel, Black Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Rock Bunting and Short-toed Treecreeper. In the afternoon transfer to Aiguamolls de l’Empordà.|
|Day 8. Aiguamolls de l’Empordà. Full day visiting this wonderful wetland. Here we will have good chances for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Pallid Swift, Moustached Warbler, Little Bittern, European Kingfisher. But the area is specially noted for migratory birds such as Little Crake. Here it is also possible very likely to catch up with species such as White-winged Black Tern, Red-throated Pipit, Black-shouldered Kite, Red-footed Falcon or even Great Snipe!|
|Final transfer to Barcelona (about 2 hores) and delivery in town or in the airport.|
6 nights accommodation in twin room; breakfasts, lunches and evening meals; birding tour leader; ground transport in confortable, coixí de conditioned vehicle; reservi entrances and travel insurances. All prices include VAT.
Flights to / from Barcelona Airport, drinks, any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”.
We will be Pleased to pick up tour participants from their hotels around Barcelona Airport during the first morning of the tour. Pick up time will be around 06:30. We aim tour participants to arrive to Barcelona during the dat before the tour starts.
During the tour we will use 4 different accommodations. We will spend two nights at Ebre Delta, Lleida steppes and Pyrenees and an overnight at Aiguamolls de l’Empordà. We will sleep at high stantard local owned rural houses. All rooms are en suite and with air conditioning. All evening meals are to be at our accommodations or by a gentle walk from them. Middays will combini pic-nics with some restaurant meals depending on the day planning.
Food along the trip is Fairly good. We will combini some examples of excellent local cuisine along with really good “paelles” and really good wine.