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A taste of Spain : Birding in Catalonia with The Biggest Twitch

For all the information about our exciting daytrips and longer birdwatching tours in North Wales, across the UK and further afield, please click on the following link to go to our new website:

Come and join us at BirdwatchingTrips with The Biggest Twitch for the very best birdwatching trips in North Wales, the UK and beyond!

Do you want to enjoy some of the best birds that Spain has to offer at a relaxed pace with minimum driving and maximum birding? Then our 8-day tour of Catalonia in north-east Spain may be just what you're looking for.

Slender billed Gull ballet

Slender-billed Gull in Catalonia

Staying in comfortable bed-and-breakfast accommodation, we explore three very different types of habitat giving us a wide variety of bird species in a short space of time. The beauty of this part of Spain is that all these different areas can be enjoyed with very little driving time between locations, so we can maximise the time spent in the field rather than on the road. In the evenings, we have time to enjoy some of the delicious Catalan specialities for supper with a glass of Spanish wine as we catch up on our bird list for the day.

Email us now on for more information or to book your place on our next small-group birding tour!

To give you a taste of the birding in Catalonia, here's an extract from our trip report:

Day 1: Arrival in Spain

We left the airport of Reus near Barcelona where our tour started and headed south, and within a couple of hours we were already in our first birding destination, the Ebro Delta. Here we enjoyed our first experience of Spanish birdwatching in the miles of wet paddyfields and protected lagoons that is the Ebro Delta. It is an amazing destination for birdwatching with masses of birds everywhere you look. We encountered many Whiskered Terns dip-feeding over the wetlands, Night Herons flying from their roosts and noisy Black-winged Stilts everywhere, before we headed for our hotel on the edge of the Delta.

Ebro at dawn

Atmospheric dawn in the Ebro Delta with the promise of great birds to come

Day 2: The Ebro Delta

We were out early to spend our first full day exploring the Ebro Delta. Even as we walked out of our hotel, Audouin’s Gulls were wheeling over the street, what a great way to start the day. Once amongst the paddyfields, grebes, herons, flamingoes, gulls, waders and wildfowl were all taking advantage of the plentiful wetland habitat, while overhead the skies were full of terns, hirundines and swifts.

Whiskered Tern post

Whiskered Terns were abundant in the Ebro Delta and their grating calls filled the air over the paddyfields and reedbeds.

Day 3: More Ebro Delta birdwatching

We explored more bird-rich areas in the southern half of the Ebro Delta with its wonderful mix of habitats. The lagoons, marshes, saltmarshes and beaches here were simply teeming with birds. We headed out on to a long sandy spit that held breeding colonies of gulls and more waders; in particular many Kentish Plovers scuttled along the tideline giving great views in the warm sunshine. Everywhere we looked we saw more birds with Mediterranean and Yellow legged Gulls all over the beaches, Caspian Terns powering over the shallow waters, while egrets and herons strode through the blue waters. But it was the Audouin's Gulls that stole the show here. We found a large breeding colony of these enigmatic gulls on the low dunes, and we soaked up the views of these birds!

Audouins Gull with eel 1

We watched this Audouin's Gull eyeing up a potential breakfast - but which end to start?

Day 4: From Ebro Delta to plains via mountains!

What a variety of habitats in one day! We left the wonderful Ebro Delta and headed north, and only an hour later we were up a mountain. That's just one of the beauties of this fabulous part of Spain: you need only travel a short distance and you're in a completely new habitat.

In the arable foothills we encountered our first Woodchat Shrikes and Hoopoes, Sardinian and Western Bonelli's Warblers and rising quickly in altitude we saw Black Redstarts, Serins and Rock Buntings, while Booted Eagles soared over the mountain pines. We headed further north and the land flattened out again as we reached an area of extensive arable farmland where European Bee-eaters perched on the roadside wires. In the early evening we explored a region of dry grassland particularly good for larks including Crested, Thekla and Short-toed Larks.

Bee eater pair

Colourful charismatic European Bee-eaters are easy to see around here

Day 5: Birding the grasslands

We headed out early to start birding the dry grasslands of this inland area of Catalonia. This area provided great birds, and we were soon seeing such amazing birds as Little Bustards, Montagu's Harrier, Rollers and Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Little Owl

This juvenile Little Owl was watching us as we watched him.

Every few yards we had to stop to enjoy incredible birds: a Short-toed Eagle hovered looking for snakes, a male Montagu's Harrier was sitting in an open field before floating over the stubble. Golden Orioles were calling from streamside trees and giving amazing views, including the brightest yellow and black males.

Cirl Bunting male

Cirl Bunting in a bush right beside us

Rock Sparrrows fed next to Cirl Buntings as Sardinian Warblers churred from low scrub. Stone Curlews were common and their weird calls floated on the still dawn air as an Egyptian Vulture took heavily to the cold air.

Stone Curlew adult

Goggle-eyed Stone Curlew stands to attention

Later, when the air warmed, many Griffon Vultures soared over the plains. White Storks strode through fields as Red-rumped Swallows swept over us and we soaked up views of Hobby, Spotless Starlings, Corn Buntings, Hoopoes, Turtle Doves, Black-eared Wheatears. This was fantastic birding!

Day 6: North to Baga and the mountains

We said goodbye to our comfortable hotel in the plains and headed north for just two hours into the stunning mountains around Baga, a lovely little village with clear mountain air and friendly locals.

Mountains 1

Our first views of the spectacular vistas that would surround us for the next few days.

This was such a great area for raptors, with Short-toed Eagle, Lammergeiers and Golden Eagles with dozens of Griffon Vultures. The pine forests were alive with birds, including charismatic Crested Tits and plenty of Western Bonelli’s Warblers.

Crested Tit

Chirpy Crested Tits came close to investigate

Although birds were the stars of the show, we also had plenty of time to enjoy all the other wildlife, including some of the beautiful butterflies.

Butterfly beauty

Stunning butterflies all around us

Day 7: More high altitude birdwatching

We followed a different route into the mountains as we followed this road climbing up dramatically from the valley floor to over 6000 feet. We had the mountains all to ourselves, so we stopped frequently to soak up the vast landscape views and enjoy the birds.

Road to top
Mountains 4

Spectacular scenery around every bend

Near the summit, we explored an area of scree slope, looking for some very special birds amongst the boulders.

Citril Finch

A Citril Finch came in to pose

First up, a party of Citril Finches dropped in right next to us. Then a juvenile Alpine Accentor popped up and showed off.

Alpina Accentor juv

Alpine Accentor perched on a nearby rock

The birding up here was truly spectacular: we enjoyed close-up views of several Water Pipits; Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes were hopping about on the roadside; Black Redstarts were everywhere; Griffon Vultures soared above us; noisy gangs of both Alpine and Red-billed Choughs cavorted through the skies; both Rock and Cirl Buntings entertained us on the way along with armies of Bonelli's Warblers and Crested Tits, while raptors cruised over the wooded areas included Short-toed and Booted Eagles.

Ruth looks raptors

Ruth scanning for Black Woodpecker

On the way back down, we stopped several times to look for Black Woodpecker, symbol of the national park, before catching up with this charismatic bird in the beech woods in the valley bottom.

Day 8: Last morning’s birding

We had time for some more birding in the morning in the beautiful mountain foothills. We were thrilled to catch up with Black Woodpecker,Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike amongst others before taking the short drive back to the airport where our tour ended.

Wildflowers blue

All in all, this was a fantastic 8-day trip. Three very different habitats each with a whole new range of bird species, all within an easy drive of each other so we had minimum driving time and maximum birding time! And with excellent red wine and tapas while doing the bird list in the evening, what more could we ask for?

So if we've tempted you to join us in Spain for some outstanding birding in wonderful countryside, here are the details of our forthcoming trip in 2013.

A taste of Spain : Birding in Catalonia with The Biggest Twitch
Provisional Dates 13th - 20th April 2013


    Day 1: The tour starts at Barcelona Airport; drive to Ebro Delta
    Day 2: Birding the Ebro Delta
    Day 3: Birding the Ebro Delta
    Day 4: Drive north to the plains area; dry grasslands birding
    Day 5: Birding the plains area
    Day 6: Drive north to the foothills of the Pyrenees; birding the mountains
    Day 7: Birding the mountains
    Day 8: Birding the mountains; drive to Barcelona Airport where our tour ends

Or you may like to join our four day extension into Extramadura see below for more infoformation on the wonderful birding on offer.

To give an indication of price the cost was £1,295.00 in 2012 based on a minimum of 4 participants (maximum 8 participants on this tour)

The price includes:
7 nights’ hotel accommodation on a bed-and-breakfast basis*; all meals on the tour; non-alcoholic drinks on the tour; ground transportation during the tour; guiding throughout the tour; use of telescopes and field guides; individual bird checklists

* Single supplement may be charged by some hotels at peak times

The price does not include:
Flights to/from Spain and transfer to Barcelona Airport** if needed; alcoholic drinks; personal travel insurance; visas; laundry; telephone calls; all items of a personal nature

** We are very happy to advise you on recommended flights to Barcelona Airport to coincide with the start of the tour. We will be flying from Manchester to Barcelona Airport ourselves.

If you'd like more information about this or any of our other tours, please email us on We look forward to sharing great Spanish birds with you!

Audouins Gull with eel 2

Audouin's Gull getting to grips with an eel

Four day extension into Extramadura

This will give us access to beautiful Cork Oak woodlands, rolling plains and rocky hills that will boost our bird list considerably. The most wanted species will be the enormous Great Bustard, which given a little luck, we should encounter in good numbers. But there is much more and we will also be searching for such wonderful birds as: Black Stork, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Short toed Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew, Black bellied Sandgrouse, Pintailed Sandgrouse, Turtle Dove, Great spotted Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Wood Lark, Crag Martin, Red rumped Swallow, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blue rock Thrush, Iberian Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Azure winged Magpie, Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Serin, Rock Bunting and Corn Bunting.

An impressive list we are sure you agree! We will be staying in a lovely small family run hotel, owned by the top local birder so we will have access to all the latest information on the very best birds and sites in the area.

If you would like further details on this wonderful extension please do contact us as soon as possible as the hotel is very popular and quickly books up!

We look forward to enjoying wild Spain with you in 2013.


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