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One of the most popular tourist cities in Spain, Barcelona is also well worth visiting for birders with good urban parks and an excellent wooded area to the north, a harbour area that attracts birds and the superb Llobregat Delta just to the south.
Although much of the delta area has been lost to development there are still some excellent beaches and lagoons, marshes, farmland and pinewoods. For those on a short city-break or business trip Barcelona offers some of the best and most accessible birding in Spain.
The parks have a thriving population of the Monk Parakeet, a South American species now established through escapes. In addition there are many of the smaller typical Mediterranean birds such as Eurasian Scops Owl and Alpine Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe and Wryneck, Short-toed Treecreeper, Common Redstart and warblers such as Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Western Bonelli's Warbler.
The Ciutadella park, containing the Barcelona Zoo, is one of the best parks and home various free-flying members of the parrot family as well as Monk Parakeet.
Further north is the Laberint d'Horta with more trees and in the north-west of the city is La Orenata with large areas of more or less natural vegetation.
The Collserola is a large area of scrub and pinewood-covered hills in the north of the city with a good range of Mediterranean birds including Great Spotted Cuckoo and European Bee-eater, Common Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Subalpine Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Orphean Warbler. During passage periods Cory's Shearwater and Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua, terns and gulls including Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull can be seen offshore.
Much of the once extensive Llobregat Delta has now been lost to development but there are still some excellent areas of beaches and lagoons, marshes, farmland and pinewoods. Monk Parakeet is found in the delta, Ring-necked Parakeet is also present and Black-hooded Parakeet (Nanday Conure) has bred as well as small numbers of other introduced birds such as Red Avadavat, Common Waxbill and weavers.
More typical wetland birds include Little Bittern and Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Grey Heron and Purple Heron. Crested Coot has recently been reintroduced. Waders such as Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover breed as well as Water Rail and very small numbers of both Little Crake and Baillon's Crake. Red-crested Pochard is rare but regular.
Breeding warblers include Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler and Sardinian Warbler which are all very common and smaller numbers of Moustached Warbler, Savi's Warbler and Great Reed Warbler.
The delta also attracts waders in good numbers, particularly Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing but wintering waterfowl can include 5,000 ducks of up to 15 species including Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Great Cormorant, Northern Gannet, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, European Honey Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Red-legged Partridge, Common Quail, Common Pheasant, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Baillon's Crake, Little Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Crested Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Northern Lapwing, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Arctic Skua, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Stock Dove, Feral Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Monk Parakeet, Black-hooded Parakeet, Ring-necked Parakeet, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, Little Owl, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Wryneck, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Water Pipit, Spanish Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dunnock, Bluethroat, Common Nightingale, Common Redstart, European Stonechat, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Blackcap, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Penduline Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Common Magpie, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Common Waxbill, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
In addition to birds the Llobregat Delta is of great herpetological interest with a wide range of species present. Amphibians include Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, Midwife Toad Alytes obstreticans, Spadefoot Toad Pelobates cultripes and Natterjack Bufo calamita, Iberian Frog Rana perezi and Stripeless Treefrog Hyla meridionalis. The impressive Ocellated Lizard Lacerta lepida can be seen as well as Large Psammodromus and Spanish Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus and hispanicus, and Turkish Gecko and Moorish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus and Tarentola mauretanica.
Snakes include the large Montpellier Snake Malpolon monspessulanus, the Southern Smooth Snake Coronella girondica, Ladder Snake Natrix scalaris and Viperine Snake Natrix maura. The native Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica is common as is the introduced Red-eared Terrapin Trachemys scripta elegans.
Access and Facilities
The urban parks are well-signposted and easily found using public transport. Collserola Park can be reached from the A-2 motorway or the N-II going to Molins de Rei and from there to Santa Creu d'Olorda and on towards Sant Cugat. About 5km before Sant Cugat, at Vil.la Joana, is the visitor centre where details of the extensive network of footpaths over Collserola can be found.
The Llobregat Delta lies just south of Barcelona city and can be explored from the roads around the airport or to the beach. Part of the area is protected as reserves and entry to some areas may be prohibited at times.
Accommodation is plentiful in Barcelona and there are campsites in both the Collserola and the Llobregat Delta.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
Hanzel Jurij's review I visited it at the start of November. I saw my first Purple swamp hen and Spoonbills here. There were numerous Cory's shearwaters off shore and to cap it all up I saw a flock of about 15 Cattle egrets practically in the middle of the motorway near the airport.
The info centre offers a wide variety of brochures and the possibility to rent a binocular for 2 euros.
- very well organised
- great birds
- friendly staff
Stephen C's reviews
One of the best sites in Spain for migrants and vagrants; its proximity to the city and airport meaning it is well-watched.
Literally you could walk around it in thirty minutes but I defy anyone to achieve it as there's so much to see.
There's been some reorganisation after vandalism which, for my mind, has been detrimental to it as a bird watching site.
It now opens too late, at 10 am (and I have been left waiting until 10.30) and often closes well before sunset (which means you can't get the Scops Owls or Nightjars nearby). Pros
- Very compact wetland site adjacent to Barcelona (El Prat) airport
- can be a little hard to find and the staff don't always seem to care when they open
Whether you need to fill in a couple of rushed hours before flying off somewhere or want to take it easy and relax away the whole day, the Llobregat Delta, next to Barcelona's El Prat airport, is the perfect location, an absolute must for migrant seekers.
It really is a shame that opening hours have been shortened recently as the best times really are the dawn chorus and the dusk roost. But this site is so good it still warrants a ten during the rest of the day.
Indeed, as nature creates a freakish metaphor of its neighbour, with thousands of birds and some 350 species passing through each year, it's not surprising that it's earned a reputation as THE place for migrants in the whole of Catalunya.
Those taking their regular scheduled flights include Osprey, Booted Eagle, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, White-winged Black Tern and Little Gull although by far the most memorable is the invasion of thousands upon thousands of hirundines, when all five European species including Red-rumped Swallow and Eurasian Crag Martin, can be seen skimming and darting through every spare centimetre of air space.
As expected perhaps, the delta is well staffed with natives also and Black-crowned Night Heron, Kentish Plover, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black-winged Stilt, Penduline Tit, Scops Owl and Purple Gallinule all busy themselves during the breeding season.
It does have its quiet side though and, given an early morning, a seat overlooking the Vidala and a flask of coffee, you stand your best chance, perhaps in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, of seeing Water Rail, Little Crake, Baillon's Crake and Moustached Warbler.
But be careful you don't miss your flight!
- compact; great for quick trips and migrants
- No toilets; new runway threat; opens too late