Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax ©Daniel Roca
Birding Catalonia

Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain located on the northeastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula. It consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. It is bordered by France and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The climate of Catalonia is diverse. The populated areas lying by the coast in Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona provinces feature a Hot-summer Mediterranean. The inland part (including the Lleida province and the inner part of Barcelona province) show a mostly Mediterranean climate. The Pyrenean peaks have a continental or even Alpine climate at the highest summits, while the valleys have a maritime or oceanic climate sub-type.Catalonia has a marked geographical diversity, considering the relatively small size of its territory. The geography is conditioned by the Mediterranean coast, with 580 kilometres (360 miles) of coastline, and large relief units of the Pyrenees to the north. There are three main areas: The Pyrenees: mountainous formation that connects the Iberian Peninsula with the European continental territory and located in the north of Catalonia; the Catalan Coastal mountain ranges or the Catalan Mediterranean System: an alternating elevations and planes parallel to the Mediterranean coast; the Catalan Central Depression, which forms the eastern sector of the Valley of the Ebro.As 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 c.32,000 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!

Top Sites
  • Ebro Delta Natural Park

    Satellite View
    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

    Satellite View
    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).
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 443

Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide to The Pyrenees

    | By Jacquie Croxzier | Arlequin Publications | 1998 | Paperback | 87 pages, 8 pp colour plates, illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9781900159753 Buy this book from
  • Aucells (Birds)

    | By Celdoni Fonoll | Lynx Edicions | 2006 | Hardback | 274 pages, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps, includes audio CD | Catalan | ISBN: 9788496553033 Buy this book from
  • Catàleg dels Ocells dels Països Catalans

    | (Catalunya, Pais Valencia, Illes Balears, Catalunya Nord [Catalogue of Birds of the Catalan Countries: Catalonia, The Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, Northern Catalonia]) | By Jordi Clavell i Corbera | Lynx Edicions | 2002 | 382 pages, Colour photos, b/w illustrations, tables, maps | ISBN: 9788487334399 Buy this book from
  • Guia de Rapinyaires de Catalunya

    | (Guide to Raptors of Catalonia) | By Fran Trabalon & Àlex Ollé Torner | Cossetània Edicions | 2017 | 208 pages, 319 colour photos | ISBN: 9788490345252 Buy this book from
  • Ocells de Catalunya, País Valencià i Balears

    | (Inclou també Catalunya Nord, Franja de Ponent i Andorra [Birds of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands: Including North Catalonia, the Western Strip and Andorra]) | By Joan Estrada | Lynx Ediciones | 2018 | Paperback | 294 pages, 1033 colour illustrations, 323 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9788416728077 Buy this book from
  • When and Where to Watch Birds in Catalunya

    | (From the Pyrenees to the Shores of the Mediterranean – A Month-by-Month Guide) | By Ricard Gutiérrez | Tundra Ediciones | 2016 | Paperback | 376 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour maps | ISBN: 9788416702329 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Northern & Eastern Spain

    | By Ernest FJ Garcia & Michael Rebane | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2017 | Paperback | 384 pages, 30 b/w illustrations, 125 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781472936752 Buy this book from

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    Institució per a l'Estudi, Gestió i Recuperació dels Ecosistemes Lleidatans
  • 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…

Abbreviations Key

  • NA Llobregat Delta Nature Reserves

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • NP Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici

    WebpageSatellite View
    Located between the regions of Pallars Sobirà and La Alta Ribagorça, the 105 square kilometres of Aigüestortes is the only national park of Catalonia. As its name suggests, one of its characteristics is water, which we can find in all its states and forms: rivers, waterfalls, ponds, glacial valleys, with almost 200 mountain lakes. The fir tree and mountain pine forests, the alpine pastures and the scree-slopes are home to animals such as the capercaillie, the chamois, the marmot or the bearded vulture.
  • NP Ebro Delta

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • PN Aiguamolls de l'Empordà

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park is the second most important wetland area in Catalonia, after the Delta del Ebro. In the past these marshes covered the whole area of the plains of the Roses bay and the Baix Ter, so that the Montgrí massif, between l'Escala and Torroella -delimiting the Alt and Baix Empordà-, stood out like an island in the middle of the waters. Visitors can easily identify various species of duck, heron, egrets and cattle egrets, and see the harriers glide and the cormorant dry off its plumage and admire the elegance of the long-legged birds, such as cranes, flamencos, sandpipers and the conspicuous storks, reintroduced in the park in the eighties. The human effort to recover the last Aiguamolls of l'Empordà has also led to the successful reintroduction of other species, such as the purple swamphen and the otter.
  • PN Cadí-Moixeró

    InformationSatellite View
    The park was established in 1983 and encompasses 41,060 hectares (101,500 acres) of mountainous terrain in the comarques of Alt Urgell, Berguedà and Cerdanya. It stretches for more than 30 kilometers over the mountain ranges of Serra del Cadí and Serra de Moixeró, with Vulturó standing at 2,648 metres (8,688 ft) as its highest point.
  • PN Els Ports Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
  • PN Estany d'Ivars

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Inland wetland
  • PN Garrotxa Volcanic Zone

    InformationSatellite View
    The park covers 12,093.02 hectares, and includes territory from eleven municipalities in the comarca of Garrotxa. The Garrotxa field is a monogenetic volcanic field, with each volcano representing a single period of eruption. The field became active about 700,000 years ago,[4] and is the most recent expression of volcanic activity in northeastern Catalonia, which dates back 10 million years.
  • PN Parc Natural del Cap de Creus

    InformationSatellite View
    The area of the protected marine area ranges between 1.3 and 0.2 miles out to sea, with three partial nature reserves: the Farallons, the Creus cape (between the island of Culleró and Jugadora cove) and the Norfeu cape. The north of the s'Encalladora island is a marine nature reserve. The waters are clean and pure, and the wealth of underwater life is exceptional, with species such as corals (a significant source of income in other times) and seaweed meadows.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Rare Birds.Cat

    Sightings & News is organized in six information categories. It also includes information on the blog, the author, current Catalan Birding records and the Catalan bird list in four different pages accessible through the main page menu.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Audouin Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Audouin Birding Tours is a bird guiding company based in NE Spain, between the Ebro delta and the mountain chains of Els Ports and Montsi
  • Aventures Corax

    Tour Operator
    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.
  • Barcelona Birding Point

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Beyond Barcelona

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Birding In Spain

    Tour Operator
    In Birding In Spain you'll find all kinds of information about birds, both common and rare, and plenty of reasons for birding in northeast Spain.
  • Catalan Bird Tours

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Iberian Wildlife Tours

    Tour Operator
    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
Trip Reports
  • 2017 [04 April] - Rafiki - Northeast Spain

    PDF Report
    ...Then the Aiguamolls d’Emporda was on the menu again. This time we entered at the Information Centre,north entrance. Quite busy with visitors and their parked vehicles. Still, the Storks did not mind, we walked some two kilometers to the silos again. A Monk Parakeet was seen entering a nest in the top of a high voltage post. Hoopoe again, and a good selection of waterfowl from out of a hide.
  • 2019 [02 February] - Matthew Mellor - Catalonia & Aragon

    PDF Report
    It wasn’t easy to know when to go to Spain this year, given an imminent trip to Israel in March and following very successful visits to Extremadura and other areas of southern Spain in 2017 and 2018. There remained very few resident/breeding Spanish species that I hadn’t seen, but Neil and I were keen to enjoy a few days (simply a long weekend) trying to see a couple of new species for us and photographing others.
Places to Stay
  • Hotel Rull

    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.
Other Links
  • Birding Catalunya 

    Information about birding in Catalonia…
  • Ocellaires Km.0

    Ocellaires Km0 neix, en col·laboració amb la Fundació Plegadis i l'Associació per la Conservació dels Ecosistemes Naturals (CEN), amb un objectiu ben senzill: volem donar importància als ocells que trobes just sortir de casa, als moixons que tens més a prop. És important conèixer la fauna que ens envolta per tal de donar-li la importància que es mereix.
  • Oryx

    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 encontrar
  • Alauda

    Spanish birding in the Pyrenees and NE Spain…
  • Albert Cama & Joan Ferrer - Gulls in Catalonia

    Last update November 2014 - All about Gulls in Catalonia…
  • Alfons Delgado Garcia - La Natura a la comarca de la Selva

    Local natural history, birds areas, photos, pictures and nature…
  • Francisco - Pito Real

    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…
  • Irene Barnosell - 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!
  • Marcel Birding by Train

    Last Updated 2016 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, a database of bird sightings in Catalonia…
  • Marius Domingo - Ocells del Camp de Tarragona

    BLOG where you can obtains information of birds in the Camp de Tarragona, Catalunya…
  • 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…
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Pere Alzina i Bilbeny

    Some excellent shots of iconic species
  • Photographer - Xavier Martinez

    Webpage from birder Xavier Martinez dedicated to the wildlife photography specially bird photos

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

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