| The much shrunken, much
maligned yet remarkable Delta de Llobregat lies
barely 20km from Barcelona and right under the pathway of Barcelona
Airport. Barely 3% of the orginal Delta plain of 100km2 survives, the
rest eaten up by agriculture and more recently by the expansion of industry, and what remains is is constantly under pressure from further
expansion of the airport. This said, the Delta is still one the most important birding sites in Catalonia.
At one time or another, it is home to grey, night, little,
squacco and imperial herons,
egrets, kingfishers, marsh harriers and 140 odd birds besides. One or
two bitterns out of - 30-40 pairs for the
Spain have also been regularly wintering here since 2000, after an
absence of 45
years. The Delta is also a great source for rarities will all sorts turning up over the years. Unsurprisingly its a much-loved site among Barcelona's birders.
The complex covers five main habitats, the first
three of which represent a classic Mediterranean succession.
- Marshes and lagoons
- River Llobregat
1 The beach
There is a viewing platform on the beach. In winter, and if you have a
telescope, this a great spot to observe seasbirds including Cory's,
Balearic and Mediterranean shearwaters, 3 species of skua, gannets and xxx.
Much of the beach area is out of bounds as Catalonia's second largest nesting
area for Kentish plover. Large, roosts of Auodin's gulls in spring are another highlight with a varying population of 60-600 birds in 2006, depending on the day. Mediterranean gulls in winter. Presence of Spanish psammodromus. A 2006 rehabiliation centre for injured marine
animals is to be built here in the near future (November 2006 news).
Much of the old dune system was fixed by stone pines (Pinus pinea) at
the turn of the 20th century. It is interesting to note how the seaward trees are more stunted in growth from the saline conditions here. The pinewoods have been recently opened to public access. Renowned for the presence of nine orchids though
incursions from wild boar caused great damage in 2006 summer. In birding terms the richest woods are those bounding the agricultural fields inland. Breeders include: Sardinian warbler, short-toed treecreeper and several tits, and great spotted cuckoo parasiting magpies. Migration turns up Bonelli's, subalpine, melodious and other warblers and in winter, goldcrests, firecrests, robins, blackbirds, blackcaps and wrens. Referencexxxxx
3 Marshes and lagoons
A set of reed-fringed, semi-saline, permanent lagoons with good hides for observation. The marshes are grazed using wild horses. Grey herons, marsh harriers, little bittern and little egret, are present all year round with purple heron summering here, along with
great reed and reed warblers, water rails, coots and moorhens and rare purple gallinule breeding since 2001. squacco, night herons are also present. The Delta attracts 4000-5000 ducks of up to 15 species every winter (mallard -evidently-, shoveller, teal, pintail,
ferruginous duck and red-crested pochard), along with large numbers of lapwing and smaller numbers of golden plover, great snipe and a big range of waders.
Booted eagle, hen Harrier, merlin and peregrine
may also turn up. More here Llobregat Delta by Ricard Gutiérrez
4 The River Llobregat
The river Llobregat is a Mediterranean
with a highly irregular flow. The average yearly flow at Martorell of
21m3/s rose to 3080 m3/s on 20 th September 1971 . This said, so far
down stream as far as the Delta is concerned the river is a shackled
and tamed beast. The river mouth's has been rerouted several kilometres
downstream to create space for port development, which in turn has
moved the river closer to the complex of marshes. The river is
remarkably wide and clean at its outlet. A few kilometres upstream, it
is barely a river at all but rather a sluggish and often polluted
current. The difference is thanks to water treatment plant which
returns copious amounts of clean water to the river just before it
meets the Mediterranean..Unfortunately, while the planners seem to have
done a good job creating marsh habitat, the river authorities have
refused to create a riverine forest along the river's banks, which are
clad in stone, with a view of the developing industrial Barcelona side.
old bed has however refused to die and after calls from conservation
groups, part of the abandoned river bed is to be protected, though as
this will lie within the port's boundaries it will be off bounds to the
Although most of the remaining marshland has been saved, much of the surrounding farmland has been lost to development, which had a big effect on populations of waders and other birds, who had relied on such land a food source.
of Delta del Llobregat
See also above for birds present individual habitats
Check out these excellent links:
Invasive species include:
- Monk Parakeet
Reptiles and ampibians:
- Amphibians: 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.
- Reptiles: Ocellated Lizard Lacerta lepida Large
Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus, Spanish Psammodromus Psammodromus hispanicus, Turkish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus and Moorish Gecko Tarentola
mauretanica. Snakes include Montpellier Snake Malpolon
monspessulanus, the Southern Smooth Snake Coronella girondica, Ladder
Snake Natrix scalaris and Viperine Snake Natrix maura (proably the commonest). Both native Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica and introduced
Red-eared Terrapin (slider) Trachemys scripta elegans are common though the later are being erradicated as they may pose competition for native species - some research suggests competition for sun spots rather than for food.
Human history of Delta del Llobregat
There is a big problem of access.
The best way. Briefly, leave Barcelona along Gran Via from Plaza
España and continue
along the C-246, until turn-off for Gava Mar. Take this turn off and
double back across bridge and follow signs for Barcelona, which will
bring you back onto C-246. The turn-off fopr the park is signposted
about 3km back towards Barcelona. Gates are open 9:30-5:30.
This is not comfortable. Catch the 95 bus from Ronda
de la Universitat,
just off Placa de Catalunya, which runs every 20-30 minutes.
About 20 minutes later get off by a Repsol petrol station on the wrong
side of the busy dual carriageway, which I do not recoomend you to
cross. Instead use the underpass about 100m up the road, and hope it's
not flooded. The entrance to the reserve is about 50 metres back toward
This is not comfortable. Train from Sants to Viledecans, and head
seawards through mostly pleasant farmland, after an intital stretch of
road. As with the public transport option you will have to negotiate
the dual carriageway.