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Pyrenean Winter Birding Break Tour - 5 Days

Pyrenean Winter Birding Break Tour
750.5

Winter Birdwatching Tour

The Pyrenees are, along with the Alps, the main mountain ranges in Europe. But these mountains, half in France, half in Spain, have preserved many of their untouched natural values. They are the main stronghold for Bearded Vultures in Europe and host the main population of Western Capercaillie in Western Europe.

But the Pyrenees especially noted because of the amount and variety of its birdlife. This is a place where you can easily see all 4 species of European vultures in one morning, and where resident species includes Tengmalm's Owl, Black Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, Citril Finch, Yellow-billed Chough plus the endemic Iberian Green Woodpecker & Iberian Grey Shrike.

In spring-summer, these valleys and mountains host impressive densities of goodies including Western Orphean & Subalpine Warblers, Eurasian Wryneck, Common Nightjar, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Egyptian Vulture. Here, all these birds are still increasing its numbers!

In winter, all these summer visitors go back to their African homes, but the birding interest doesn't decrease but climb up since several high mountain goodies will be more accessible during the cold months. From October to March it is time enjoy winter flocks of Snow Finches and Alpine Accentors while Wallcreepers can be found from 1.500 metres high to the sea level in the Catalan coast.

Immediately South of the mountains, we find the extensive Ebro Valley, probably the most impressive habitat in Europe. Here, an endless modulate open land goes from the semidesert to a puzzling landscape of wheat fields, Holm Oaks patches and Mediterranean bushland. In here it is possible to find the best densities in Europe for Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spectacled Warbler, Red-necked Nightjar, Ortolan Bunting and Calandra Lark. It is also home for the super-secretive Dupont's Lark, the small Lesser Short-toed Lark, the recently described Catalan form of Reed Bunting (extremely endangered) and the some of the very last Lesser Grey Shrikes at the West of the Alps!

Here, a variety of ponds and wetlands offer nesting grounds to Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, Savi's Warbler, Little Bittern, Greater Bittern, Little Crake, Northern Lapwing, Moustached Warbler, Black-winged Stilts, Western Swamphen, being joined by Bluethroats and Jack Snipes in winter!

A 5-day winter birding tour enjoying the impressive Pyrenees which is a winter land of Wallcreeper! This tour is dedicated to look for some major sought-after birds in Europe. Along the tour we will look for Black Woodpecker, Snow Finch, Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier, Moustached Warbler, Great Bustard, Little Bustard or Dupont's Lark…not bad for a winter birding break!

We will be sleeping in 2 different accommodations in the Pyrenees and Lleida Steppes. This will allow one of the most interesting birding combinations in Iberia all year round. During the tour, we will explore a huge variety of landscapes, from alpine meadows to desert plains.

Weather is normally excellent in the fall, as provides cloudy days, no heat nor wind.

And, if this itinerary doesn't fit your target or expectations, don't worry. Contact us, we will be delighted to build up the perfect itinerary for your dreamed birding in the Pyrenees!

Day 1
Day 1 - Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park

This day we will explore areas of the Pyrenees inmediatly North of Barcelona. Our main goal will be to locate the highly nomadic Snow Finch. The area can host flocks of 100s but also be none of the them, being 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 are so we will scan also for it.

After a stop for lunch we will have some time for scan for Dipper, Rock Sparrow, Cirl Buntings and Yellowhammers in areas where they normally do 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. Here we will probably have good views in this amazing bird. If weather allows we will have a pic-nic in some view points overviewing one of the best areas for raptors in Europe. The area hosts the largest density of Lammergeiers in Europe! Cinereous Vulture has also a small population along with hundreds of pairs of Eurasian Griffon. Cirl Bunting, Hawfinch, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler are other interesting goodies to enjoy around!

In the afternoon we will spend some time in an area hosting 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

Early weak-up in the mountains. We will spend some time in high mountain 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. Before midday we will do a short transfer (80 minutes or so) to the plains.

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

The area hosts large numbers of ducks but also Common & Jack Snipe, Green Sandpiper and the endemic Iberian Green Woodpecker along with migratory flocks of Common Crane and a winter roosting place for Marsh Harriers (normally above 50 of them!).

Day 4
Day 4 - Lleida Steppes & Los Monegros

We will spend this day in the steppes. We will experience a dramatic change in the landscape, from the towering Pyrenees to the semi-desertic ambient in the dry lowlands inmediatly South of the mountains. During the morning we will look for Little Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouses and Black-bellied Sandgrouses. All these birds are normally found in flocks, so it means you really have to know where do they love to concentrate during this season. The area is also great for raptors, and Golden Eagle, Eurasian Merlin, Hen Harrier and Red Kite are all common. Larks will be common and we hope for good views on Crested, Thekla, Calandra Lark and Lesser Short-toed Larks. In the fall there slim chances for the mythical Dupont's Lark, but we will do our best to locate one of this amazing birds!

After a pic-nic we will spend most of the afternoon looking for Eagle Owls in areas around. Blue Rock Thrush, Cirl Bunting, Hawfinch, Rock Sparrow and Black Wheatear could all be appearing there.

Day 5
Day 5 - Lleida Steppes & Los Monegros

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

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

Join us for a 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?

  • 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.

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5 Days

Price & Availability

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EUR790 / per person
Based on twin/double room
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
This tour is operated by: Barcelona Birding Point
4.98 based on 14 reviews

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4.98 Based on 14 reviews
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Tour Facts

  • Pyrenees, Catalonia
  • Set Departure
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • 2 pax to 6 people
  • 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