Birding in Catalonia – Part 1

Birding in Catalonia – Part 1


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 around 7 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 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).

to be continued….

2 Responses to “Birding in Catalonia – Part 1”

  1. Mark McKeown Says:
  2. Hello Steve

    Nice to meet you today at Fuente De , just to say I got 4 Wallcreepers , 2 together on the rocks beneath where the path splits (signposted) and one on the cliff face directly above and one on the cliff face way to the left.
    All good views though no photo opportunities.

    Keep up the good work


  3. admin Says:
  4. LIkewise Mark, and well done! I guess we could have swapped observations and each would have been happier – we only saw one Wallcreeper in the same area as you did, but it was down to about 5 metres away. Nevertheless, I think we all had a wonderful morning up there – the Wallcreeper(s), Alpine Accentors, Rock Thrush (a bit too brief), the very confiding Alpine Choughs and the best show of Snowfinches I’ve ever had. Not to mention the amazing scenery and the sunshine. Back at home now and resting after a busy spring season, that day will be uppermost in my mind when I recall the birds and places of the last few months. Keep birding!

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