Exploring The Mountains, Steppes And Wetlands In Northern Spain


The Pyrenees are probably the best-known mountain range in Spain. They form the main physical border between the European continent and the singular Iberian Peninsula, and have served as such for the past 100 million years or so to the flora and fauna. To the south we find several endemisms not present outside Iberia, and in the mountains, as the mixture of two worlds, we find some cold-adapted species remaining as representatives of the biodiversity that took refuge in the peninsula during the last glaciation.

This tour, especially designed to be done with a small group of up to 6 people, will begin with us looking for some of those heat-liking Southern European species, such as Little Bustard and Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, to then start traversing the mighty Pyrenees. There, we’ll look for the Black Woodpecker and the Eurasian Crested Tit in the forests, the White-winged Snowfinch and the Alpine Accentor in the high-mountain pastures, the spectacular Wallcreeper and the Red- billed Choughs in the rocky walls and, of course, we’ll always pay attention to the skies, where the stars will be the Bearded and Egyptian Vultures, to name but a few possible species. We’ll end our journey near Barcelona looking for other Mediterranean specialities such as Audouin’s Gull and
Balearic Shearwater.

Of course, along the trip we will also enjoy the culture and great food of these mountains, as well as the hospitality of their inhabitants.


Day 1: Arrival in Barcelona

The trip begins in one of the most famous cities in the world, Barcelona. From there, we’ll drive towards Lleida, a nice midpoint in our journey towards the Pyrenees and excellent place for birding. In the evening we’ll visit the Embassament d’Utxesa wetland, to try for some localized passerines such as the Moustached Warbler, Bearded Reedling or Eurasian Penduline-Tit. Overnight in Lleida

Day 2: Lleida Steppes; Arrival to the Pyrenees

In the morning, will explore the Lleida steppes, which can be very diverse and will be an excellent place to look for some southern European specialities, including Eurasian Thick-Knee, Little Bustard, Greater Short-toed and Calandra Lark.

Afterwards we’ll begin heading towards the Pyrenees, to the historical village of Castejón de Sos, where we will sleep today, not before taking a stroll through the woods in search for the first forest birds, among which the Bullfinch and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Overnight in Castejón de Sos.

Day 3: Eastern Pyrenees — Mountain birding in Cerler

Today, after breakfast, we’ll head north through the Benasque valley up to the charming ski resort of Cerler. At this time of year, the damp terrain, which has been covered in snow during the winter, is home to a diverse grassland, among crags and bushes. This very special habitat holds an array of bird species, typical to those high mountain areas, such as Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit and Ring Ouzel, to name but a few. Here, we’ll make a special effort to find the very elusive Rock Ptarmigan. Our eye may be caught at any moment by the impressive silhouette of the Bearded Vulture, probably the emperor of the skies in the Pyrenean range. Overnight in Castejón de Sos

Day 4: Sahún; Ordesa National Park

This morning we will drive to Sahún, from where we’ll start driving towards the Ordesa National Park through an excellent conifer forest. During this drive we’ll make several stops along the way in which we will look for very localized species in Spain, including Boreal Owl, Gray Partridge and Eurasian Treecreeper. Other species present here are Goldcrest, Whinchat, Dunnock, Tree Pipit and Red Crossbill. Afterwards we’ll drive towards the village of Broto, traversing some impressive gorges, the kingdom of the Egyptian and Bearded Vultures and of the Eurasian Griffon.

Overnight in Broto.

Day 5: Ordesa National Park

Today we will visit Ordesa National Park, driving to what probably is one the most impressive viewpoints in Spain: Miradores de Ordesa. In this area we’ll enjoy again the high mountain pasture habitat, with some spectacular views over the Ordesa valley. From this vantage point we will look for more mountain specialities like Red and Yellow-billed Chough, Alpine Accentor, and the very localised White-winged Snowfinch. Besides birds, we’ll look for mammals, existing some good chances of seeing Pyrenean Chamois and Alpine Marmot.

Overnight in Broto.

Day 6: Ordesa National Park; Hecho

In the morning we’ll take advantage of our location to visit the Pradera de Ordesa, a mixture of grassland and mixed forest at the bottom of the glaciar valley we saw yesterday from the top. The mixed habitat here makes for a high diversity of species, among which we may mention Black Woodpecker, Marsh and Crested Tit and Eurasian Bullfinch.

Afterwards we’ll begin heading west towards Hecho, making some stops to look for Rock Sparrow and Ortolan Bunting around Jaca.

Then, immediately after arrival, we’ll head to one of the best spots in the Pyrenees to look for the  magnificent Wallcreeper, the red admiral of the bird world. We’ll strive to find this very elusive species during the next few days.

Overnight in Hecho.

Day 7: Central Pyrenees — Hecho Valley

The Hecho Valley holds a variety of habitats. Our hotel here is near a picturesque village close to prime birding sites. The unique Wallcreeper is a regular breeding bird in the deep, rocky gorges just minutes away from our accommodation, and we have several sites to try for this gem. Other target species at these mid-elevations are Alpine Swift, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrushes, Eurasian Treecreeper, Red-backed Shrike, Common Firecrest and Mistle Thrush. This whole area, again, is prime raptor country with more chances for Bearded Vulture along with Golden, Short-toed Snake and Booted Eagles.

Overnight in Hecho.

Day 8: Hecho; Barcelona

In our last day in the Pyrenees we will try to find any missing mountain and forest species around Hecho, such as the Marsh Tit, the Yellowhammer or the Black Woodpecker. Maybe even the Wallcreeper. Then we’ll begin traveling to Barcelona, the last destination of our tour. Ahead of us a drive through some very scenic landscapes, gradually changing from pure mountain forest to Mediterranean forest mixed with rocky cliffs and, finally, the Lleida steppes again with some soft agricultural areas. We will be doing some birding stops to look for any remaining birds, such as Black Wheatear or Thekla’s Lark. We’ll arrive to Barcelona in the evening, where we’ll be staying in an hotel near the airport.

Day 9: Llobregat Delta

In our last morning we will visit the highly productive Delta del Llobregat on the Mediterranean coast southwest of Barcelona to give us a last chance to see some waterbirds and seabirds. Of particular interest would be Audouin’s Gull which we’ll try to spot among the more numerous Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, while Balearic Shearwater can also be spotted from the coast with a scope. Little Tern is another highlight. Shorebirds are usually plentiful with a mix of Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole and Kentish Plover are all possible. Once done here we will drive to Barcelona Airport where we will finish our trip.

Species of interest

  • Red-legged Partridge
  • Little Bustard
  • Alpine Swift
  • Pallid Swift
  • Western Swamphen
  • Eurasian Thick-Knee
  • Kentish Plover
  • Collared Pratincole
  • Audouin’s Gull
  • Little tern
  • Cory’s Shearwater
  • Balearic Shearwater
  • Squacco Heron
  • Purple Heron
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Bearded Vulture
  • Egyptian Vulture
  • Eurasian Griffon
  • Short-toed Snake-Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Bonelli’s Eagle
  • Montagu’s Harrier
  • Eurasian Goshawk
  • Eurasian Scops-Owl
  • Eurasian Eagle-Owl
  • Little Owl
  • Boreal Owl
  • Eurasian Hoopoe
  • European Bee-eater
  • European Roller
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  • Iberian Green Woodpecker
  • Black Woodpecker
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Eurasian Hobby
  • Peregrine Falcon, ssp. brookei
  • Red-backed Shrike
  • Iberian Gray Shrike
  • Woodchat Shrike
  • Red-billed Chough
  • Yellow-billed Chough
  • Coal Tit
  • Crested Tit
  • Marsh Tit
  • Eurasian Penduline-Tit
  • Greater Short-toed Lark
  • Calandra Lark
  • Dupont’s Lark
  • Mediterranean Short-toed Lark
  • Wood Lark
  • Thekla’s Lark
  • Bearded Reedling
  • Melodious Warbler
  • Moustached Warbler
  • Great Reed Warbler
  • Eurasian Crag-Martin
  • Red-rumped Swallow
  • Western Bonelli’s Warbler
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Western Orphean Warbler
  • Sardinian Warbler
  • Western Subalpine Warbler
  • Goldcrest
  • Common Firecrest
  • Wallcreeper
  • Eurasian Treecreeper
  • Short-toed Treecreeper
  • White-throated Dipper
  • Spotless Starling
  • Ring Ouzel
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Black Redstart
  • Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush
  • Blue Rock-Thrush
  • Whinchat
  • Northern Wheatear
  • Western Black-eared Wheatear
  • Black Wheatear
  • Alpine Accentor
  • Dunnock
  • Spanish Sparrow
  • Rock Sparrow
  • White-winged Snowfinch
  • Western Yellow Wagtail
  • Tawny Pipit
  • Tree Pipit
  • Water Pipit
  • Eurasian Bullfinch
  • Red Crossbill
  • Citril Finch
  • European Serin
  • Corn Bunting
  • Rock Bunting
  • Cirl Bunting
  • Yellowhammer
  • Ortolan Bunting

What’s included

The package of this tour includes:

  • All accommodation from day 1 until day 9 (8 nights).
  • All meals, starting with lunch on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 9. This includes 1 drink with every meal and water during the whole duration of the trip.
  • Transportation in a comfortable vehicle for 6pax.
  • Programmed entrance fees as in the itinerary.
  • A specialised birding guide fluent in English with extensive experience in the Pyrenees.
  • Welcome package with itinerary, travel information and checklist of the birds of the region.

Items not included in the package:

  • Flights.
  • Extra drinks.
  • Tips in hotels, service and guides.
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Personal items.

For further details on bookings and cancellations, you can check out our general Terms and Conditions.

If at any time you have questions about this trip, payments, or other related topics please feel free to contact us.

 Tour Basics

  • Guides: Javi ElorriagaYeray Seminario.
  • Length: 9 days.
  • Single Supplement: 290€
  • Max. number of participants: 6pax.
  • Lodging: Comfortable mid-range hotels ranging from traditional to modern in style.
  • Food: excellent, traditional Spanish with some international food.
  • Weather: mild to warm temperatures throughout most of the trip. A jacket and a sweater are recommended for mornings and evenings. A rain jacket can be useful as the weather up in the mountains can rapidly change.
  • Difficulty: easy, short walks and gentle pace. For the most part, short drives, with some longer drives between stages.