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Birdwatching in the Spanish Pyrenees – Winter Tour - 5 Days

Birdwatching in the Spanish Pyrenees – Winter Tour
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Winter Birding Tour in the Spanish Pyrenees

This 5-day Birdwatching in the Spanish Pyrenees - Winter Tour is a set-departure tour. It is a relaxing exploration of the famous 500-mile long Pyrenean mountain range, which is one of the main mountain ranges in Europe, looking for some of the most sought-after birds in Europe. Along the way we will be watching out for Black Woodpecker, Snow Finch, Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier, Moustached Warbler, Great Bustard, Little Bustard and Dupont's Lark. This is not a bad selection for a winter break's birdwatching in the Pyrenees!

"I had a marvellous one-day birding trip with Carles in the Pyrenees. He was an absolutely wonderful guide who had an encyclopedic knowledge about birds and an uncanny ability to spot them... Some of the highlights included watching a Lammergeier soaring among several Griffon Vultures, and a juvenile Golden Eagle that flow low over the trees... and we were fortunate to see two White-winged Snowfinches that flew around us as we ate sandwiches at the top of a mountain pass." - Given Harper

These magnificent mountains, half of which lie in France and half in Spain, are a main stronghold for European Bearded Vultures and they host a major population of Western Capercaillie.

The Spanish Pyrenees are noteworthy for birdwatching because of the numbers and variety of birdlife. This is a place where you can easily see all four species of European vultures in just one morning of birding. Resident species include Tengmalm's Owl, Black Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, Citril Finch, Yellow-billed Chough, plus the endemic Iberian Green Woodpecker & Iberian Grey Shrike.

In spring and summer the valleys contain impressive densities of goodies including Western Orphean & Subalpine Warblers, Eurasian Wryneck, Common Nightjar, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Egyptian Vulture.

In winter, the summer visitors return to their African homes, but the birdwatching interest in the Pyrenees stays high because several high mountain species become more accessible during the colder months. From October to March is the best time to enjoy flocks of Snow Finches and Alpine Accentors, while Wallcreepers can be found from anywhere from sea level to 1,500m in Catalonia.

Immediately south of the mountains, lies the extensive Ebro Valley, probably the most impressive combination of habitats in Europe. Endless rolling open lands goes from semidesert to a landscape of wheat fields, Holm Oak groves and Mediterranean bushland. This is the place to find the best densities in Europe of Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spectacled Warbler, Red-necked Nightjar, Ortolan Bunting and Calandra Lark. It is also home to the super-secretive Dupont's Lark, the small Lesser Short-toed Lark, the recently described Catalan form of Reed Bunting (which is extremely endangered) and some of the very last Lesser Grey Shrikes west of the Alps!

A winter birding break In the Spanish Pyrenees also explores a variety of wetlands, from ponds to large marshes, where it is possible to enjoy Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, Greater Bittern, Spotted Crake (an early migratory bird in many years), Northern Lapwing, Moustached Warbler, Western Swamphen, Bluethroats and, if you're lucky, Jack Snipes.

During this winter birding tour in Catalonia we will be staying at two locations in the Pyrenees and Lleida Steppes. This enables us to offer an interesting Iberian birding combination year-round.

Birdwatching in the Spanish Pyrenees - Winter Tour highlights include:

  • The chance to explore a wide variety of landscapes, from alpine meadows to desert plains, Mediterranean scrub to winter wetlands
  • Huge flocks of winter waders and many Wallcreepers
  • 50+ roost of Marsh Harriers
  • The best place in Europe for raptors
  • European rarities such as Catalan Reed Buntings
  • Mild winter weather with excellent visibility

If this itinerary doesn't include your target or match your expectations contact us. We will be delighted to create the perfect itinerary for your dream birding tour in the Spanish Pyrenees in Catalonia.

Want to extend your birding to another location? Why not try the Birding Extremadura and Gredos Mountains Tour, Spain. 

Alternative Tour Name: Winter Birding Break in Catalonia Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park

This day we will explore areas of the Pyrenees immediately north of Barcelona. Our main goal will be to locate the highly nomadic Snow Finch. The area can host flocks numbering in the hundreds, although this is highly variable depending on the weather and the amount of snow. During the morning we will have good chances for Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier, Rock Bunting, Common Crossbill, Crested Tit and Black Woodpecker. Wallcreeper is also possible in the area, so we will scan for those.

After a stop for lunch we will look for Dipper, Rock Sparrow, Cirl Buntings and Yellowhammers in areas where you normally find big flocks. Bramblings and Hawfinches may also be present, but their numbers are variable.

Day 2
Day 2 - From Cadí-Moixeró to Boumort Mountains

This day we will spend some time looking for Wallcreepers in one of the many massive gorges in the Pyrenees where we usually have good views of this amazing bird. If the weather permits we will picnic overlooking one of the best places in Europe for raptors. The area hosts a large number of Lammergeiers along with a small population of Cinereous Vultures and hundreds of pairs of Eurasian Griffon Vultures. Cirl Bunting, Hawfinch, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler are other interesting goodies to enjoy!

In the afternoon we will spend some time in an area that also hosts Lammergeier, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, European Serin, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Sardinian Warbler and, sometimes, Citril Finch.

Day 3
Day 3 - From Pyrenees to Lleida Steppes

After an early wake-up in the mountains we will spend some time in the high coniferous forests looking for Black Woodpecker, Citril Finch, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Bullfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Firecrest. The area may host some overwintering Ring Ouzels. Just before midday we will make a short transfer (80 minutes or so) to the plains.

In the afternoon we will visit a wetland for good numbers of waterfowl. Here it is possible to see large winter flocks of White Storks along with a good variety of ducks. But probably the most interesting birds to be found in the reedbeds are good numbers of Bluethroat, Water Pipit, Western Swamphen, Penduline Tit and, if we're lucky, Moustached Warbler.

The area also hosts Common & Jack Snipe, Green Sandpiper and the endemic Iberian Green Woodpecker along with migratory flocks of Common Crane, and it is a winter roosting place for Marsh Harriers - normally we see more than 50 of them!

Day 4
Day 4 - Lleida Steppes & Los Monegros

Today we will spend on the steppes - a dramatic change in landscape from the towering Pyrenees. These are semi-desert areas in the dry lowlands immediately south of the mountains. During the morning we will look for Little Bustards, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. These birds are normally found in flocks and you really have to know where they love to concentrate during the winter season. The area is also great for raptors - Golden Eagle, Eurasian Merlin, Hen Harrier and Red Kite are all common. Larks will also be a common sight and we would hope for good views of Crested, Thekla, Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks. In the autumn there a slim chance for the mythical Dupont's Lark, so we will do our best to locate one of this amazing birds!

After a picnic we will spend most of the afternoon looking for Eagle Owls, Blue Rock Thrush, Cirl Bunting, Hawfinch, Rock Sparrow and Black Wheatear.

Day 5
Day 5 - Lleida Steppes & Los Monegros

On the last day of the trip we will spend the morning looking for Great Bustards, the heaviest bird to be able to fly! For this we will go to the neighbouring Spanish region of Aragón, where a small population occurs. Here we will also have large flocks of Red-billed Chough and good options for views of Stone Curlew, Golden Eagle and Lesser Short-toed Lark. Flocks of Sandgrouse also move around the area and Little Owls and Iberian Grey Shrikes are common.

At midday we will stop at a pair of wetlands that can produce Red-crested Pochard, White Stork, Bluethroat and flocks of Common Cranes. After midday we make the final transfer to Barcelona.

Join us for some wonderful birding and a great time!

Some of the wildlife expected to see on this trip are:

Even if Wallcreeper is the most sought-after bird for many, it is not possible to avoid the long list of specialities ocurring in this tour.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, White-winged Snow Finch, Bearded Vulture (aka Lammergeier), Dupont’s Lark, Alpine Accentor, Little Bustard or Black Wheatear are all among the top 50 birds to see for every birdwatcher in Europe. Along with them, the recent split of the Iberian Green Woodpecker as a different species from their European relatives has increased the expectation that this bird creates among many birdwatchers.

In the tour, you can easily expect over 130 species of birds, which is a great number for a tour this lenght!

During the tour, we will also enjoy other wildlife. Pyrenean Chamois are normally easy to see in some of the locations we will explore. From one of our accommodations, it is possible to see Beech Martins and European Badgers at dusk.

In fact, we normally enjoy all kind of wildlife but unfortunately, autumn and winter are not the best momment for butterflies, reptilians and other wildlife…

What is included?

  • Guiding services
  • All meals along the tour
  • Accommodation in exclusive rural accommodations
  • Transportation along the tour
  • Fees and entrances to natural parks and reserves
  • Travel insurance

What is not included?

  • Personal Insurances
  • Visa fees
  • Other unspecified costs in the itinerary
Wildlife Reviews
5 stars
- based on 2  reviews
  1. A marvelous experience!
    Given Harper29 Jan 2020
    5
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    I had a marvelous one-day birding trip with Carles in the Pyrenees. He was an absolutely wonderful guide who had an encyclopedic knowledge about birds and an uncanny ability to spot them. He picked me up at my accommodation in Barcelona and drove us to several destinations throughout the Pyrenees. Some of the highlights included watching a Lammergeier soaring among several Griffon Vultures, and a juvenile Golden Eagle that flow low over the trees and then soared up and out of sight. We had great views of a Blue Rock-Thrush, Alpine Accentor, Rock Bunting, numerous Red Crossbills, and we were fortunate to see two White-winged Snowfinches that flew around us as we ate sandwiches at the top of a mountain pass. On our way down the mountain, we stopped in a small town and had wonderful views of a White-throated Dipper foraging in a stream that flowed through the town. Needless to say, it was a magical experience!
  2. Carles the wizard
    Philippe MARCHESSOU18 Feb 2017
    5
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    Carles is an enchanter wizard, who's able to take you through unknown areas where he enables you to share whith him incredible emotions of pictures of wilderness and sensibility. My passion for shooting photographs of flying birds is strengthened every time I go with Carles. He's at the same time, highly competent, modest, very intuitive on the ground, always inquiring, helpful and kind.

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Why book with Barcelona Birding Point?

Barcelona Birding Point is a birding travel agency created to provide quality guided birding and wildlife tours from our base in Barcelona. You will find a wide range of tours which cover the most outstanding birding areas in Catalonia and neighbouring regions. Our tours will lead you throughout some of the best birding locations in Spain where you can enjoy great views of the most sought after species along with stunning scenery in areas o great natural beauty.

Is the tour having any hiking?

In our tours we normally avoid hikings. In winter, we do concentrate in slow walks along minor lanes or lonely paths. The tour is extremely easy all along!

How big is the chance to see a Wallcreeper?

We have been guiding birdwatchers in the Pyrenees along the last 10 years, and after this time we keep enjoying every second we spend looking for this great bird! Our success rate during the last 5 years is 98,2%. In fact, over half of our tours end with 2 or 3 Wallcreepers in different locations, and different days.

How cold it gets?

Not much. Temperatures in the Pyrenees in fall and winter rank from 0ºC to 15ºC. Autumn has some cloudy and some bad weather. If you are lucky enough to have these misty days when coming with us, you will remember forever because is in such conditions when hundreds of Snow Finches or Alpine Accentors suddenly appear around us!

How is the food?

Along the tour we enjoy some wonderful Mediterranean cuisine. The Catalan cuisine is supposed to be among the best in the world, and you will have oportunities to taste some of its dishes. We do also enjoy some international cuisine during the tour.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.


5 Days

Price & Availability

From
EUR700 / per person
Based on twin/double room
Single Suppliment EUR 90
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Barcelona Birding Point
4.98 based on 14 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.98 Based on 14 reviews
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Tour Facts

  • Pyrenees, Catalonia
  • Set Departure
  • Set Departure Tour
  • 2 to 6 pax
  • Mid October to Mid March
  • +11 years
  • English, Catalan, Spanish
  • Barcelona-El Prat International Airport or drop off in hotel nearby
  • Barcelona-El Prat International Airport or pick up in hotel nearby