Birding around Barcelona

Birding around Barcelona

Planning a trip to Barcelona? Maybe a short stop-off in Barcelona city as part of a Mediterranean cruise, or some traditional sightseeing? But you’re reading this because you’re a birder, right? And wherever you go you always think about birds and birding, so…

What are the possibilities and recommendations for birding, or birdwatching, around Barcelona?

On the very edge of Barcelona airport there are some interesting birding options in the Llobregat Delta. A couple of different sites of the Llobregat Delta are good for a spot of birdwatching and are within easy reach of the Barcelona city centre or Barcelona airport. One such birding site is the Remolar-Filipines reserve of the Llobregat Delta.

Inconvenient timetables may mean that the reserve is closed when you get there, or that you will have to walk some distance along the access road and park in an unattended car park, which you may also find closed and locked on your return if you dally too long doing a spot of seawatching from the beach. So be warned! Make sure that you are well informed of the reserve and car park timetables before you start birding this part of the Llobregat Delta.

Water levels fluctuate on the reserve, and the lagoons are prone to drying out. Nevertheless, you could plan to spend a couple of hours here, first visiting the well-built hides and then taking the short walk to the beach for a spot of seawatching. Purple Gallinule, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti’s Warbler are there in the reeds somewhere, and there’s usually a good assortment of waders, ducks and herons in areas with open water. Another, newer birding site within easy reach for birding from Barcelona is Cal Tet. Here the main attractions are water birds along the riverside, the Cal Tet lagoon and whatever birds there may be on flooded fields or along the beach. On the walk itself it is not difficult to detect Common Waxbill and Penduline Tit.

Further to the south, but still not far from Barcelona is the Garraf. The cliffs here at the seafront can be worth a look, as birds like Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Sardinian Warbler can often be seen. If you are birding at Garraf in the winter then it is also worth bearing in mind that a Wallcreeper has been recorded here in several successive winters.

Garraf is also the name of the calcareous massif just inland from here, and is protected under the figure of Garraf Natural Park. Check those swifts flying around, because there could well be some Pallid Swifts among them. The superb Bonelli’s Eagle is one of the highlights of this massif, and it is easy to spot Dartford Warbler, Thekla Lark and Subalpine Warbler in the more open areas. Birding elsewhere, in the more sheltered, wooded and cultivated areas of the Garraf massif you can expect Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Firecrest, Cirl Bunting, Crested Tit and Hoopoe, among others.

Bonelli’s Eagle, Hieraaetus fasciatus

Photo by Jordi Bas 

Cirl Bunting, Emberiza cirlus.

 Hoopoe, Upupa epops.

Rock Sparrow, Petronia petronia.

Then after your great birding day out you can go back to Barcelona and do something “normal”, like plan a visit to one of Gaudí’s marvellous works such as Casa Batlló, Parc Güell, or the Sagrada Familia, not forgetting the binoculars of course, because even in Barcelona city centre there are more options for birdwatching, like setting eyes on flocks of noisy Monk Parakeets, or perhaps a chance encounter with an Iberian Green Woodpecker.