A SELECTION OF NATURAL PARKS OF AREAS OF BIRDING INTEREST

Many of the best places in which to watch birds are close to Barcelona. Some of them are described here:


DELTA DEL LLOBREGAT


Focusing on:

* Coastal bay and shallow water birds
* Fresh water and brackish lake and lagoon birds
* Sea birds


Right next to Barcelona, just 15 minutes away by car, lies the Llobregat delta, an area of enormous agricultural and natural value located close to major infrastructures like Barcelona airport. Nevertheless, this nature reserve is an excellent place for spotting water birds and other migrant species which stop there on their way to the African tropics or the Arctic tundra. Its fresh water and brackish lagoons are ideal spots in which to observe species such as the cattle egret, the purple heron, the Squacco heron, the black-winged stilt, the purple swamphen or the curlew sandpiper. There are also sea birds of interest such as Audouin’s gull, the Mediterranean gull, Cory’s shearwater, the Balearic shearwater or the Mediterranean shearwater.


AIGUAMOLLS DE L’EMPORDÀ NATURAL PARK

Focusing on:

* Coastal bay and shallow water birds
* Fresh water and brackish lake and lagoon birds
* Meadow birds
* Birds associated with drylands and various crops
* Sea birds


The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park is one of the most emblematic protected areas in the whole of Catalonia. Threatened in the 70’s by the construction of a major residential development for 60,000 people, in the end it was protected thanks to public pressure, international support and a favourable political positioning by the nascent Catalan Parliament. It was declared a Natural Park in 1983. It runs around much of the Roses bay and onto the of the Alt Empordà plain and includes brackish and fresh water lagoons, meadows, pastures, uncultivated ground, cereal fields and other types of habitat, giving it an excellent food supply for birds making it and a key stopover and resting point before crossing the Pyrenees. It is an ideal place for observing water birds such as cattle egrets, purple herons, Squacco herons, glossy ibises, black-winged stilts or purple swamphens. While they do not breed there, flamingos are often spotted. It is also a good place to watch sea birds such as Cory’s shearwaters, Balearic shearwaters or Mediterranean shearwaters. Bee eaters and rollers add a touch of colour to this flat landscape which is so open to the sea.


CAP DE CREUS NATURAL PARK

Focusing on:

* Birds of Mediterranean scrub and scattered woods
* Birds of dryland areas: vineyards and olive trees
* Stony habitat and cliff birds
* Sea birds


Cap de Creus lies just where the Pyrenees tumble into the Mediterranean sea. The Cap de Creus massif projects a few miles out to sea, and is very rocky, abrupt, unspoilt and highly exposed, with few woods and a clear predominance of scrub, with a few olive groves around the only town in the heart of this area: Cadaqués, source of artistic inspiration for Salvador Dalí, the brilliant, world-famous painter. Apart from the birds to be seen out to sea (Mediterranean, Balearic and Cory’s shearwater and so on) and close to the cliffs (Bonelli’s eagle, pallid swift, alpine accentor, etc.), the most interesting species are those which inhabit Mediterranean shrubland areas. Of special interest among these are the blue rock thrush, the common rock thrush, the black-eared wheatear, the spectacled warbler, the Dartford warbler, the tawny pipit, the Thekla lark, the red-rumped swallow or the woodchat shrike.


DELTA DE L’EBRE NATURAL PARK

Focusing on:
* Coastal bay and shallow water birds
* Fresh water and brackish lake and lagoon birds
* Sea birds


Two hours’ drive from Barcelona takes you to the Ebro Delta, one of the most outstanding deltas in the Mediterranean region and a wetland of global importance. The Ebro Delta is a flat area which is flooded either naturally or artificially (thanks to the rice fields). It is of exceptional natural value and the traditional activities of rice growing co-exist with the preservation of habitats and with flora and fauna. The Delta is therefore a marvellous place to watch birds associated with coastal bays and shallow water, flooded rice fields and fresh water and brackish lakes. Great egrets, purple herons, cattle egrets, Squacco herons, glossy ibises and purple swamphens can all be spotted in the rice fields or around the reedbeds in the lagoons. The pink touch of thousands of flamingos – there is a colony of 1,200 pairs – brightens up the salt pans and coastal bays. Audouin’s gulls and slender-billed gulls fly overhead while pratincoles display their unmistakeable silhouette. The lesser short-toed lark, on the other hand, hides among the vegetation of the salt pans. Beside the sea Balearic, Mediterranean and Cory’s shearwaters can be seen. During migration periods many waders can be seen heading for the Arctic tundra or tropical Africa... All this makes the Ebro Delta a real paradise for birdwatchers and nature lovers!


THE CEREAL-GROWING STEPPE OF LLEIDA
AND THE CLIFFS OF THE FOOTHILLS OF THE PYRENEES


Focusing on:

* Birds of cereal-growing steppe and uncultivated land
* Cliff birds
* Birds of dryland fields of olive and almond trees
* Birds of Mediterranean scrub and woodland


At European level, steppe is among the scarcest of habitats and at the same time possesses the greatest natural and ornithological value on the whole continent. The steppe of Lleida (cereal fields and uncultivated land) are no exception and this is why the cereal fields, non-irrigated almond trees and uncultivated land are home to a wealth of birds adapted to these habitats, nonexistent or very scarce in most of Europe. Highlights among these species include the little bustard, the great bustard (now just outside Catalonia), the stone curlew, the pin-tailed sandgrouse, the lesser kestrel, the great spotted cuckoo, the roller, the black wheatear, the black-eared wheatear, the Calandra lark, the greater short-toed lark or the woodchat shrike, among many others.

Very close to the Lleida plains the great crags of the first ranges of the Pyrenean foothills rise up. Above and below the crags the mountains are carpeted in Mediterranean scrub and woodland. These rocky massifs are the perfect habitat for rock-dwelling birds such as the blue rock thrush, rock thrush, alpine swift, chough or alpine chough, and above all for the four European vulture species: the bearded vulture, the Egyptian vulture, the griffon vulture and the recently-introduced black vulture. This is the only region in Europe where all four large European vultures can be observed.


TERRITORY À LA CARTE! ANYWHERE YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN

Apart from the five areas of ornithological interest we have described you in detail, there are many others. These are exceptional not only in terms of landscape (the Parks Montserrat or Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici and so on), but also in terms of bird life (Garraf and Cadí-Moixeró Natural Parks and other areas). The ornithological discoveries are tailored to suit you, and can therefore include any natural area, either as an extra or as the main focus for ornithological exploration. Among all these other possibilities we would highlight the following:

* Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park
* Garraf Natural Park
* Montserrat Natural Park
* Sant Llorenç del Munt i Serra de l’Obac Natural Park
* Montseny Natural Park
* Corredor i el Montnegre Natural Park
* Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park
* Alt Pirineu Natural Park
* Montgrí, les Illes Medes i el Baix Ter Natural Park
* Els Ports Natural Park
* Serra de Montsant Natural Park
* The mouth of the river Tordera


...And anywhere else we have to go to satisfy
   your interests and expectations!