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Only twenty minutes drive from the popular cultural centre of Barcelona, the Garraf Massif is a range of limestone karst hills with dense scrub, pinewoods and sea-cliffs.
Barcelona is ideally placed for birders on short trips with the superb Llobregat Delta adjacent to the city and the nearby Garraf Hills providing an excellent opportunity to see some easily scrub- and rock-dwelling birds.
Eurasian Eagle Owl and Bonelli's Eagle are present in these hills as well as Pallid Swift and Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater, European Nightjar and Northern Raven but is the the smaller, scrub-dwelling passerines that are most noticeable. Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Blue Rock Thrush are common as are Thekla Lark, Tawny Pipit, Eurasian Crag Martin and Rock Sparrow. Black Wheatear and Black-eared Wheatear can be found here and warblers include Melodious Warbler and Western Bonelli's Warbler. However, this is the ideal habitat for Sylvia warblers and Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler and Spectacled Warbler can all be seen.
Birds you can see here include:
Mediterranean Shag, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-legged Partridge, Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, Little Owl, European Nightjar, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Wryneck, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Crested Lark, Wood Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Alpine Accentor, Common Nightingale, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Blackcap, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wallcreeper, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Common Magpie, Northern Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting
Dwarf Fan Palm is common in these hills and the scrub largely consists of Mastic Tree and Kermes Oak.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
To explore the Garraf Massif take the Castelldefels road from Barcelona and continue past the turn-off for Castelldefels town centre, instead take the right turn towards Palau Novella and Port Ginesta a few km further on. This road leads through the Rat Penat housing development and up to the top of the range. There are various viewpoints and tracks to watch from and it is possible to walk up to the highest point in the area, the 595m la Morella.
Accommodation is plentiful in Barcelona and Castelldefels.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
Stephen C's review
If you'll forgive the pun, the Garraf Massif is massive. So when I first visited I had absolutely no idea where to start looking for the Bonelli's Eagle, Eagle Owl and Black Wheatear that the park is famous for.
To make things worse, unlike in the Ebro delta where birds simply flock into your notebook, I soon learned that nature is different here. Birds are either elusive, evasive or both and tracking them down is more like going on safari.
So one could do worse then than to mimic the birds you're hunting for and a patient, watchful eye will soon reveal an Iberian Grey Shrike or two doing likewise from the tops of bushes.
Similarly, a little 'pshing' may lure out Spectacled and Subalpine Warblers curious to know who's making that ridiculous noise, silently blending into the background will tempt out Cirl and Rock Bunting and tracking a flock of Long-tailed Tit will provide amazing close-ups of Common Firecrest, Crested Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper.
With a little extra effort it becomes clear that there's just as much spectacle here as anywhere else as a second look magically reveals a pair of Golden Oriole in the nearby oak, that those swifts are actually Pallid Swift and that little cracking noise that's been bugging you for twenty minutes is a flock of feeding Hawfinch.
Since I moved to the Garraf permanently to live of course I've come to realise that it s not all down to skill. If a little local knowledge means you know there's a waste tip in the middle of the park, then finding Audouin's Gull, the rarest gull in the world, is easy.
Depending on the time of year you can do nothing but trip over Turtle Dove, Black Redstart, Serin, Raptors and may be even, high in the september sky, Black Stork. And then there's luck. Perhaps the most elusive of all.
But then again, it does help if you can count many of the species above, as well as Hoopoe, Alpine Swift and Booted Eagle, as garden birds!
For more info:
email me at [email protected] or check out www.catalanbirdtours.com
I've marked it ten because, if this is your cup of tea - and why shouldn't it be? - its well worth the trip.
But, the best bits at least, are not for the sit-in-the-car-and-watch type. More skill is needed but this challenge is what makes it so thrilling.
Despite its name, habitats range from mountain to forest to vineyard to scrub to coastal cliffs and beaches.
PS Be careful, I have noticed that some species lists for this location elsewhere on this (and other sites) are wholly inaccurate.
- good for walking
- for some: you will have to hunt for species