Catalonia, or Catalunya, in the north-east corner of Spain, is the main overland gateway into the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. A glance at the statistics will tell us that more than 6 million people inhabit its 32,091 km², at an average density of 190 persons per km², and that it is an industrialised region with a coastline largely developed to accommodate mass tourism. Not precisely a beacon for the foreign birder, or so it would seem. But then there are the other statistics: the brand new breeding bird Atlas of Catalonia reveals 232 species of breeding birds - more than any other region of a comparable size anywhere else in Spain - inhabiting its numerous and varied biotopes, including wetlands of International importance, high mountains, Mediterranean type sierras & lowlands, rocky coasts & headlands, and steppes.
Catalonia's Mediterranean coastline, for example, has 3 very interesting wetland areas, the most important of which is undoubtedly the Ebro Delta. This must be the star attraction for any visiting birder wanting to see gulls and terns, including the rare Slender-billed and Audouin's Gulls, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, along with a wide variety of herons, ducks and waders such as Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Red-crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, migrating Marsh Sandpipers and Temminck's Stints and a few miscellaneous items such as Purple Gallinule, Greater Flamingo and Savi's Warbler. Furthermore, its impressive list of wintering and migratory birds means that it's not to be forsaken at any time of the year.
The Llobregat delta, on the very edge of Barcelona airport, also presents itself, although on a much smaller scale, as an interesting proposition for a 2 or 3 hour visit, with excellent hides overlooking scrapes which never fail to turn out rarities year after year. Last but not least there is the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà in the north of the region, intensively managed to enhance its wildlife interest and well placed to receive those more easterly migrants which rarely make landfall elsewhere along the coast. It's also something of a Mecca for spring crake hunters (Spotted, Little and Baillon's).
Rocky headlands or massifs like Cap de Creus, the Serra de Montgrí, Garraf and the Ports de Beseit are within the coast-hugger's easy reach, and may complement the visitor's list with the likes of Bonelli's Eagle, Pallid Swift, Black Wheatear, Orphean Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush or the more localised Ortolan Bunting or Red-rumped Swallow.
If we head inland following the course of the Ebro we will get to the Ebro Valley steppes, remainders of which still survive within the confines of Catalonia in the vicinity of the city of Lleida. Open flat terrain in this dry area with a continental type climate is home to Catalonia's last Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Little Bustard (at surprisingly high densities), 7 species of lark including Dupont's Lark, Montagu's Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Roller, Red-necked Nightjar, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Stone Curlew, etc. This is also the last stronghold of the Lesser Grey Shrike in the whole of Spain.
At barely an hour's drive to the north of Lleida we will reach Montsec, a fine and impressive example of a pre-Pyrenean range with Griffon Vultures, Lammergeyers, Rock Thrush, Tawny Pipit and Ortolan Bunting among others. Like its cousin Boumort, this is a largely depopulated area which the unwary tourist will usually pass by in a rush to reach the high Pyrenees - don't be an unwary tourist!
Nevertheless, the Catalan high Pyrenees are a worthy attraction, holding all the species that can be seen in the Pyrenees of neighbouring Aragón, some scarcer, some more common. Although finding a Snowfinch here in the breeding season is a real challenge, other species such as Capercaillie, Tengmalm's Owl, Ptarmigan and Citril Finch are more numerous here than further west. In the Val d'Aran, the only Spanish valley with an Atlantic watershed, breeding Middle-spotted, Lesser-spotted and Black Woodpeckers are worthy of note. Plan a visit to the beautiful Aigüestortes National Park, the Serra del Cadí or the Núria Valley to see other mountain specialities such as Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier, Alpine Chough or Ring Ouzel. And don`t forget to relax now and then and smell the flowers!
Ebro Delta Natural Park
North-East Spain: Ebro Delta Natural Park. Considered to be the greatest wetland area on Spain's Mediterranean coast, and the second greatest one in the western Mediterranean, it consists of large lagoons, reed beds, channels, rice fields, and seasonally flooded areas of scrub. Its over 8,000 hectares have been declared a game reserve and host some of the country's most important seabird colonies (including a breeding Lesser Crested Tern Colony.) It is because of its role as a breeding ground and refuge for winter migrants that the delta has been defined as an area of great significance in various conventions and has always been classified in the A category. As an example, there are an average of 53,000 ducks and 13,000 Coots each Autumn. These figures represent about 10% of the waterfowl that winter in the whole Iberian Peninsula. Interesting breeding birds are Greater Flamingo (1,461 pairs); Purple Heron (577 pairs); Glossy Ibis (6 pairs); Bittern (4 pairs); Black-winged Stilt (2,093 pairs); Kentish Plover (5,000 pairs); Avocet (405 pairs); Pratincole (70 pairs); Common Tern (3,000 pairs); Gull-billed Tern (267 pairs); Slender-billed Gull (392 pairs) and Audouin's Gull (11,588 pairs). The bird population of the Ebro Delta consists of 50,000-100,000 individuals belonging to about three hundred species, 60% of the total number of species found in Europe.
Empordà Marshes Natural Park
The Empordà Marshes Natural Park was created in 1983 and covers 4,824 hectares. It is near the French border and the city of Barcelona. So far 323 different species have been observed, 93 of which nest there. It is during periods of migration that the marshes play a prime role as a refuge, feeding and resting ground for thousands of migrating water birds. When in spring the Pyrenees become impassable owing to the strong north winds, countless flocks of birds alight on these wetlands. At these times of year, birdwatchers can see over 100 species of birds in a single day. Some interesting species breeding in the park are: Kentish Plover (54 pairs); Black-winged Stilt (134 pairs); Little Bittern (12-35 pairs); Purple Heron (53 pairs); Bittern (5-6 pairs); Roller (5-6 pairs); Bee-eater, Lesser Grey Strike (6-12 pairs); Moustached Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, White Stork (24 pairs); and Purple Gallinule (40-60 pairs).
author of Where the Birds are in Northeast Spain
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 390
A Birdwatching Guide to The Pyrenees
Graham Hearl, James McCallum (Illustrator); Jacquie Croxzier Paperback ( 1 January, 1998) Arlequin Publications
ISBN: 1900159805Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in North and East Spain
Michael Rebane, Stephen Message (Illustrator) Paperback - 295 pages (20 May, 1999) Christopher Helm
ISBN: 0713647000Buy this book from NHBS.com
On Observar Ocells a Catalunya
Where to Watch Birds in Catalonia J del Hoyo, J Sargatal et al 312 pages, 40 maps, illus. Lynx Edicions 1989
ISBN: 8487334016Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where the Birds are in Northeast Spain
by Steve West Illustrated by Ernest Leahy [Published by Steve West]
ISBN: 8460915999Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Iberian Wildlife Tours
We are all British, freelance, natural history tour leaders who have been living in our respective regions of Spain for many years. Our experience of leading wildlife holidays in Spain and Portugal dates from 1989, both with established wildlife tour companies and a tailor-made basis for independent groups…
Spanish birding in the Pyrenees and NE Spain…
Birdbox - Catalan Bird Tours
Birding holidays in bird rich Catalunya…
Audouin Birding Tours
Audouin Birding Tours is a bird guiding company based in NE Spain, between the Ebro delta and the mountain chains of Els Ports and Montsià. Day-trips and weekend tours can be arranged on request, primarily in Catalonia. Tours are guided by Cristian Jensen and Iben Hove Sørensen…
Ebro Bird Sightings
…part of a forum…
Josele J. Saiz
Better known for his wonderful birder's guesthouse in the Pyrenees [Boletas]; Josele guides throughout Spain and Morocco…
Catalan Bird Tours
Why go birding in Europe? Why go birding in Spain? Why go birding in Catalonia? A fair question. Why would one choose to come to Spain for a birding holiday, bird watching short break or guided bird tour? To put it simply, Spain has the most sought-after birds in Europe. The greatest abundance, widest variety and highest species density of regularly seen birds in the whole continent. And many of these are rare or threatened, can only be seen in Spain or have the vast majority of their populations within the Spanish borders…
Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays - Ebro Delta Winter Break
The Ebro Delta is the most important wetland on the Spanish Mediterranean coast and in Winter vast numbers of waterbirds linger here. We shall spend a day at Ports, a limestone massif where eagles and vultures patrol the ridges and another on the ‘Drylands of Alfas’ an area of psuedo-steppe where we might find bustards and sandgrouse in their winter flocks.
Barcelona Birding Point
Barcelona Birding Point is your gateway to birding and nature in South Europe. This project was created in 2010 as a means of promoting birding tourism as well as the protection and enjoyment of birds and their environments…
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…
Corax offers tailored visits to the best bird hotspots in Spain. Catalunya and Aragon hold three remarkable bioregions of rich diversity and dramatic landscapes: the steppe-lands of Lleida, the Pyrenees and the Ebro's delta, showcasing the best species of SW Europe.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2006 [03 March] - Audouin Birding Tours
…Starting at the Tortosa parador, we made our way down the Ebro River towards the delta. The dry rice fields and channels of the Ebro Delta hold very few species at this time of year, so we went for a birding route that would include as many lagoons, ponds and coastal streches as possible…
2006 [03 March] - Audouin Birding Tours - Ebro Lands
This trip was arranged by the tourist board of the Terres de l'Ebre as an introduction to the area. It included all aspects of the tourist industry, and the birding was at times interrupted by visits to hotels, restaurants and historical sites. However, the birds were the main attraction, and this trip report still gives a good idea of the species likely to be encountered in the Ebro lands during this time of year…
2006 [05 May] - Jan Scheeres
I booked a weeks birding holiday with my friend Jim through Stephen Christopher of Catalan Bird Tours (www.catalanbirdtours.com ) . We stayed in Stephens villa near Sitges and had a self contained well appointed ground floor apartment. On arrival at Barcelona airport Steve picked us up and we had a nice few hours birding at Llobregat marshes near the airport. We had talked about our wish lists and woke up the next morning to the sound of Golden Orioles and Serins in the garden and after breakfast set off for the Ebro Delta.Here we had magnificent and close views of all the herons except Bittern, Caspian and Gull Billed Terns sitting beside Audouins Gulls and the two stints. There was a good deal of visible migration with numerous Willow Warblers in the Tamarisk Bushes and an exhausted Olivaceous Warbler. At the end of the day a stunning male Roller flew in and landed beside a Hoopoe…
2009 [05 May] - Hans Schick
From May 12 – 22, 2009 I spent together with Stefan Wedler 10 days in Cataluña, mostly in the estuary of the River Ebro in the surroundings of Deltebre. We visited however also the Reserva Natural Remolar-Filipines near the Airport of Barcelona, the Park Natural Els Ports de Tortosa, and the Ramsar site El Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca (in Valencia)…
2008 [11 November] - Cristian Jensen - Gallocanta
…At lunch time we stopped at a restaurant, and after eating all we could, we visited the dry lands of Monegros to do some bird watching. Lorna spotted six Great Bustards, and later a flock of twenty-four Pin-tailed Sandgrouse was found on the ground. From inside the car we had good views of the birds without disturbing them. Then seven Black-bellied Sandgrouse came into our view, flying by quite close to us, but unfortunately they were impossible to see after they landed. Calandra and Crested Larks were seen, and a male Hen Harrier. Our first group of wintering Common Cranes observed flying towards the south-west and Gallocanta…
2008 [04 April] - Mark Finn
…Several highlights during the tour included scarce passage migrants – Caspian Tern, Little Crake, Wood Warbler and Ortolan Bunting. In addition most of the regions specialties were observed included Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Audouin’s Gull, European Roller, European Bee-eater and a wide selection of larks on their breeding grounds. North bound migration was late this year resulting in some species being scarce…
2011 [05 May] - Hilary MacBean
…From I’lla de Gracia Bridge we noted a colony of Night Heron downstream, accompanied by an elegantly perched Purple Heron and Little Egrets. Across the river a Little Bittern was clearly seen on a perch. Blackbirds and Moorhen surprised us in the orange groves on the Island and Meg spotted our first Glossy Ibis flying over. Trevor then flushed a mystery bird from the large Poplars. A later sighting from back across the river showed it was likely to be a Turtle Dove leaving a nest….
2007 [07 July] - Simon Johnson - La Marina, Costa Brava
This trip was a family holiday to my parent’s new house in la Marina – Spain and although most of it was spent by the pool sunbathing or running round after my 4 year old niece, I did manage to get a few hours birding in most days…
2011 [09 September] - Pat & Judy Hayes
Although Birmingham airport is prefixed with “International” it certainly isn’t; any flights to our destination airport “Barcelona” were either via Amsterdam or Paris. So once again, it was back to Heathrow Terminal 3 and BA. We were soon out of the airport and birding in earnest at Espais Naturals del Delta del Llobregat, which is situated right on the end of the runway. A great place for plane spotters…
2013 [05 May] - Steve West
…The next idea was to walk down to the beach for a seawatch. In fact the only species we saw over the sea was a Sandwich Tern, although the walk was an interesting one for Mediterranean and migrant species such as European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, (Iberian) Green Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow, Melodious and Willow Warblers, Whinchat, and Pied Flycatcher. Now that was certainly a good way to whet our appetites for the rest of the week!…
2012 [05 May] - Steve West
…Shortly after we came across a Grey Wagtail and a very obliging Firecrest alongside a small stream. This was followed by a walk through the quiet and lovely Siurana, admiring the views, butterflies and some birds like Cirl Bunting, Eurasian Crag Martin and Alpine Swift….
2015 [05 May] - Steve West
...As the morning wore on into early afternoon we drove slowly, stopping here and there, soaking up the sun and the magnificent scenery, and spotting a few more birds including European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Wryneck (only heard) and the quite challenging Thekla Lark. We also saw a couple of Woodchat Shrikes, described as looking quite “aristocratic”.
Places to Stay
Casa Guilla is a rural guesthouse situated in the prime position of the Catalonian mountain village of Santa Engracia which itself nestles defiantly on a rocky outcrop over 1000 metres up and overlooking the regional capital of Tremp. The views are breathtaking. The scenery is truly splendid. firstname.lastname@example.org
In our restaurant you can taste the typical spanish dishes and the Delta cuisine`s specialities. We offer to our clients a saloon with TV, bar and a tourist information point in our reception, where we advise on the possibilities offered in the land of the Delta. The extensive and varied beaches, the rice fields, humidity zones, the Ecomuseum and the nacional park. Nature lovers can enjoy the specialised guided trips by bicycle, bus or 4WD, fishing excursions, boat tours, bird watching (especially flamingos); sailing, kaiak, canoeing.
Can Patiras B&B
Can Patiras is a large guesthouse with a full view of the Pyrenees and the surrounding Catalonian countryside. It is located in Cistella 15km west of Figueras, Gerona; it`s a perfect place to see lots of diferent birds…
Hotels in Barcelona, our accommodation in hotel appartments
River Ebro Apartments
We have 2 high quality, self-catering apartments in a traditional Spanish townhouse in the small town of Mora d’Ebre in Southern Catalonia. The property has a quiet, riverbank location with fabulous views over the River Ebro and mountains beyond but is only a 5 minute walk from restaurants, bars, shops and banks…
Ebro Riverside Apartment
Mequinenza offers a birdwatching paradise. The area around the Ebro Valley has a variety of fantastic scenic landscapes, moutains farmland wooded areas, olive groves and riverside. Home to thousands of species, like Golden Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Egrets, Night Heron, Bee-Eaters, Shrikes, Golden Orioles, Hobby…
Institut Català d'Ornitologia
L'Institut Català d'Ornitologia (ICO) és una entitat sense ànim de lucre, que des de la seva creació, l'any 1975, s'ha dedicat a estudiar la biologia i la migració dels ocells mitjançant l'anellament científice…
EGRELL és una institució sense ànim de lucre formada per un col.lectiu de lleidatans enamorats del nostre país i sensibilitzats per l'estat de conservació de la Natura d'aquestes contrades.
Llobregat Delta Nature Reserves
Only the most observant of birdwatchers will have noticed the coastal lagoons whilst coming into land at Barcelona's El Prat airport, perhaps on the way to other, better-known Mediterranean hotspots…
The Ebro Delta covers 320 square kilometres and is the second largest wetland area in the western Mediterranean, after the French Camargue. It has many natural habitats not common to the rest of Catalonia: large lakes of salt water (such as La Tancada) or fresh water (such as L`Encanyissada); kilometres of beaches with sand dunes (El Fangar) and salt wastelands (Erms de la Tancada, Punta de la Banya); places where underground fresh water comes to the surface (Els Ullals); shallow bays (El Fangar or Els Alfacs); riverbank woods and fluvial islands that, together with the ecosystems created by man - rice fields and salt pans - constitute a unique landscape of great natural wealth.
Ebro Delta National Park
Birds make up the most striking aspect of the fauna in the Ebro Delta Natural Park. They are very important not only for human interest both also on an international basis, both in quantity and quality. Because the amount of birds that can be found in the park is so large and also the many different species are unique. The bird population consists of 50.000-100.000, belonging to about 300 species and 60 % of the total number of species to be found in Europe…
Ports Nature Park
The Ports Nature Park is comprised of the Ports limestone massif; a large mountain chain with beautiful rivers, caves, gorges, and peaks well above 1000 m (Mont Caro at 1 442 m is the highest point). The Ports massif is situated close to the Mediterranean coast where it rises at the far eastern end of the Ebro region 200 km southwest of Barcelona…
The delta contains several natural habitat types such as lagoons of varying salinity and depth, dunes, shallow beaches and bays, as well as the river and its riparian woodlands. However, the delta is dominated by human activities, and the vast majority of the land is used for agricultural purposes. Rice fields are dominating, but the delta also contains small fruit plantations and salt pans, all adding to the delta’s diversity…
La Natura a la comarca de la Selva
Local natural history, birds areas, photos, pictures and nature…
Gulls in Catalonia
All about Gulls in Catalonia…
Ayer estuve pajareando toda la mañana por la Reserva de Sebes (Flix), donde se pueden observar algunas especies típicas de ambientes acuáticos y de bosques de ribera…
Nature to Camera - Joan Egert
In this blog you will find experiences about animal behaviour, nature photography, travel and in general anything what is related to that which "is alive". The aim of this blog is to encourage the reader to share his love for nature and to awaken his commitment for it's protection. For that reason, any comment, suggestion and collaboration is highly appreciated…
Ocells del Barcelonès
Birds in Catalonia and Spain… Ocells de Catalunya és una web en català dedicada al món de l'ornitologia, i en concret a les diferentes espècies d'aus que podem trobar a Catalunya en les diferents èpoques de l'any i en les zones més propícies per a poder observar aquest fascinants animals en llibertat. En aquest portal ornitològic hi podreu trobar també articles sobre material, caixes niu, anellament, parts de les aus. així com informació general sobre els ocells…
Ocells del Camp de Tarragona
BLOG where you can obtains information of birds in the Camp de Tarragona, Catalunya…
Ocells del Barcelones i Rodalies
Blog about birds and nature of Barcelona and its surroundings - you can also find topics on birds from the rest of Catalonia, travel and all that is of interest…
Birding by Train
My name is Marcel. I’m currently studying biology at Barcelona’s University (UB) and working as a freelance birder for SEO/Birdlife and the Institut Català d’Ornitologia, of course doing field work such as offshore seabird census or ringing campaigns. I’ve worked also in butterflies doing a Butterfly Monitoring Scheme census at Llobregat Delta. Moreover, I am a member of the Catalan Rarities Comitee and I administrate the webpage www.ornitho.cat, a database of bird sightings in Catalonia…
Somos Dani (izquierda, con cámara) y Pancho (derecha, con prismáticos). El primero es un biólogo de l 'Hospitalet y el segundo es un ambientólogo de Barcelona. Ambos somos de la "generación perdida" del '85, y nos conocimos al cursar un máster en gestión de biodiversidad en el que descubrimos que nos gustaban las mismas fricadas, aunque el delirio ornitológico nos pilló a la vez al compartir vivienda durante medio año en tierras garrotxinas, en las que empezamos a crear una base de datos con los pájaros que veíamos, llegando a contemplar 96 especies diferentes…
Mirant cap al cel - Looking to the Sky
A blog about birding, and the passion it takes to our lives - Hello everybody! This is my site, just a bird-lover teenager blog. Here I'll share my observations, photos and drawings about my life passion: birds. I'll also add some useful information around birds. I'd like you to let me know what you think about the photos and drawings!
Oryx is a specialised shop and bookstore on Natural history and naturalist activities. Our web and catalog features hundreds of different items, from a large choice of books and guides, to binoculars and scopes, to birds and bat boxes, bird feeders and other products including entomological and botanical tools, compass and GPS, outdoor wear etc. En Oryx encontrará todo lo necesario para el estudio y la observación de la fauna y de la flora de España y del mundo. Disponemos de la bibliografía más especializada sobre espacios naturales o temas de historia natural, ropa y calzados de primeras marcas para las salidas al campo, la mejor variedad de prismáticos y telescopios, todo tipo de complementos y accesorios y una buena selección de artículos de decoración regalos relacionado con la naturaleza y los animales salvajes. En Oryx ofrecemos una atención personalizada capaz de dar los consejos adecuados a nuestros visitantes gracias a la experiencia y a los conocimientos que dispone el equipo humano de ORYX, la tienda del amante de la naturaleza…
Birding in Spain
Birds and Birding Tours in northeast Spain: Plan your Birding trip to Catalonia, Aragon and Navarra..
Fotos de los espacios naturales del delta del Llobregat : Filipines…
Information about birding in Catalonia…
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Xavier Martinez
Webpage from birder Xavier Martinez dedicated to the wildlife photography specially bird photos…
Photographer - Rafael Armada
My name is Rafael Armada and I'm a birder from Barcelona very interested in bird photography…
Photographer - Pere Alzina i Bilbeny
Some excellent shots of iconic species…