BIRDING


Catalonia is an exceptional place for birding enthusiasts thanks to its privileged geographical position – a stopover place for many migrant species – and its wide range of habitats, ranging from mountains over 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) high to river deltas by the sea, and including steppe, Mediterranean woodland and scrub, central European woodland and more. It is in fact one of the few regions of Europe where, despite its small land area (32,114km2 or 12,400 miles2, similar to that of Belgium), all three major units of European natural landscape are to be found: Mediterranean, central European and alpine or boreal. This is why it contains many of the habitats which exist on the continent, and therefore birds of all kinds which find ideal conditions for breeding, wintering or simply stopping to eat and rest on one of their journeys to northern Europe or to Africa: steppe, uncultivated land, dryland cereals, coastal fresh water and salt marshes, inland lakes, Mediterranean scrub and woodland, deciduous forest, temperate subalpine coniferous forest, alpine grassland, beaches with dunes, imposing sea cliffs, soaring crags... a wonderful mosaic of habitats which are home to a richness in bird population which is unmatched anywhere else in Europe.

By way of example, as many as 395 species of birds have been spotted in Catalonia, of which 232 breed here and 206 winter here regularly. Moreover, it is the only region in Europe where the four species of vulture (black vulture, bearded vulture, griffon vulture and Egyptian vulture) can be seen practically in the same place!

The bird watching trip is tailored to suit you, in terms of length (half a day, a whole day or several days), target species for observation (little bustard, bearded vulture, purple swamphen, Audouin’s gull, black wheatear, etc) and habitats (steppe, dryland, deltas, wetlands, Mediterranean scrub, cliffs for raptors and so on), as well as Natural Parks to explore (the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Cap de Creus, Garraf or Delta de l’Ebre parks, for example). Everything is carefully planned to make sure the trip fits what you want like a glove.

By combining short walks with journeys by vehicle we will discover a whole series of Iberian bird species while walking beside sheer cliffs, through wetlands dotted with colourful yellow irises, around the edge of a field of cereals or coming upon lonely coves with the captivating blue of the sea as a backdrop.

Your guide is an ornithologist with over 20 years of experience, a member of the Catalan Ornithological Institute, in joint charge of the project to reintroduce the peregrine falcon to Barcelona (www.falconsbarcelona.net), joint designer of the first on-line census of house martins (www.orenetes.cat) with wide experience of fieldwork (working for the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Catalonia, the Atlas of Wintering Birds in Catalonia and others) and of leading bird watching trips. He is also highly knowledgeable about the geography, flora, fauna, habitats and traditional and modern uses made by people of the land in the area you are about to discover.