Wildlife of the Catalan Pyrenees
Butterflies, Flowers and Birds of the Sierra del Cadí
2016 Dates: 21st -28th June
All images © Jeff Clarke unless otherwise stated
For Full details click the link below
The region of La Cerdanya is considered to be one of the richest regions for wildlife in the whole of the eastern Pyrenees. We will be based for the whole week in the village of Prullans de Cerdanya, in the heart of the Segre Valley, which is bordered to the south by the Sierra del Cadí (2,647 m) - a superb limestone ridge with a dramatic north-facing scarp - and to the north by a jumble of more rounded granite and shale peaks, reaching almost 3,000m and backing onto the independent state of Andorra.
The valley hosts a mosaic of deciduous, coniferous and evergreen Mediterranean forests, dry haymeadows and water meadows and alpine rock-gardens on both limestone and granitic rocks. Together these support an incredibly diverse flora and fauna. For the botanist, the main attraction lies in the superbly rich flora found on the limestone of the Cadí ridge. High-level rock-gardens and screes here are studded with Narcissus-flowered Anemones, Parnassus-leaved Buttercups, Mountain Avens, the exquisite Ramonda, Pyrenean and Southern Gentians, Pyrenean Bellflowers, several species of rock-jasmine and a host of saxifrages, notably Reddish, Blue and Pyrenean.
By contrast, the damp, acid haymeadows and mountain pine woodlands of the northern flank of the valley are home to gems such as the pale-yellow pasque flower Pulsatilla alpina ssp. apiifolia, Alpenrose, Great Yellow Gentian and its congener Gentiana burseri, Spiked Rampion and White False Helleborine. Peatbogs here literally teem with Pyrenean Buttercups, Large-flowered Butterwort, Starry Saxifrage and Alpine Bartsia, while rocky granite outcrops harbour Mountain Houseleeks, Pyrenean Lilies and a different suite of rock-jasmines and saxifrages, notably the rare Saxifraga aspera.
Lammergeiers and Golden Eagles soar above the sheer mountain crags, while Alpine Accentor, Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Water Pipit and Alpine Chough are the commonest passerines of the high rock-gardens and pastures. The conifer forests harbour Ring Ouzel, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Crested Tit, Citril Finch and Crossbill. If real fortune favours us we may see one or more of the highly elusive trio of Tengmalm’s Owl, Black Woodpecker and Pyrenean subspecies of Capercaillie The mosaic of mixed woodland, pastures and meadows at middle altitudes provides a perfect habitat for Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes, Whinchat and Rock and Ortolan Buntings, while the valley bottom hosts Stone Curlews, Bee-eaters and Golden Orioles. Small groups of Isard (Pyrenean Chamois) inhabit crags above the tree-line in the limestone massifs, while noisy Alpine Marmots occur mainly among the granite boulder chokes on the north side of the valley.
A staggering variety of butterflies can be found in La Cerdanya in early summer, when it is perfectly possible to see over 60 species in a single day. Of the 130-plus species that have been recorded here, over thirty are lycaenids, including such striking creatures as White-letter, Blue-spot and Sloe Hairstreaks, Scarce, Purple-shot and Purple-edged Coppers, and Large, Provençal short-tailed, Glandon, Amanda’s, Chapman’s, Eros, Damon and Ripart’s Anomalous blues. More than 20 species of fritillaries grace the haymeadows and alpine pastures of the park, notably rarities such as Shepherd’s, Mountain and Bog Fritillaries, with eleven species of ringlet (Erebia spp.) also known to occur here. Other eye-catching butterflies on the wing in late June include Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Map Butterfly, Camberwell Beauty, Large Tortoiseshell, Lesser Purple Emperor, White and Southern White Admirals, Great Banded Grayling and Black Satyr. Perhaps of greatest significance, however, are the highly localized colonies of the Mountain Alcon Blue, whose caterpillars feed exclusively on the flowers and young fruits of the Cross Gentian.
The region holds a wealth of other wildlife, including reptiles such as Ocellated Lizard, Western Whip and Viperine Snake. Ten species of amphibians, the most notable of which is the Pyrenean Brook Newt, a number of striking burnet moths - Scotch Burnet Zygaena carniolica and Z. hilaris to name but a few - and dragonflies such as Common Goldenring, Southern Skimmer and Yellow-winged Darter.
Price: 1,380 €, with a single room supplement of 145 € applicable. excluding flights including half-board, en suite accommodation at the comfortable Hotel Muntanya, picnic lunches, hired minibus transport throughout, all entry fees and the services of Teresa Farino and Jeff Clarke as leaders.
This is a land-based tour. Flights and travel insurance (obligatory) are the responsibility of the client.
Pick-up details: For this tour, participants will be booking their flights independently. Ideally we will be collecting
clients from Barcelona airport before 15.00 on 21 June in order to give us time for a leisurely drive
to Prullans before dinner. Many operators – both scheduled and low-cost – fly to Barcelona from the
UK, and all that we ask is that you select a flight that arrives before this time, otherwise you might
have to arrange your own transfer the hotel.
On 28 June, we will not be arriving back at Barcelona airport before 13.00, so please make sure that
your selected flight does not depart before 15.00.
Group size: maximum 14 persons.
Full Booking information:
Please contact Teresa Farino for further details including the full itinerary, pre-departure information and a booking form, or if you have any other queries about this tour.
Office phone: (+34) 942 735154
Mobile phone: (+34) 656 337129
Address: Apartado de Correos 59, 39570 Potes, Cantabria, Spain