Wildlife of the Catalan Pyrenees
Butterflies, Flowers and Birds of the Sierra del Cadí
All images © Teresa Farino unless otherwise stated
2011 Dates: Tues. 28 June – Tues 5 July
Price: 1,100 € per person (single-room supplement 125 €), excluding flights
For details, including full itinerary, pre-departure information and booking please E-mail:
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: 1,100 €, 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. A single-room supplement of 125 € is applicable.
This is a land-based tour. Flights and travel insurance (obligatory) are the responsibility of the client.
Pick-up details: Teresa and Jeff will be collecting clients from Barcelona airport at 11:00am on 28 June 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 will have to arrange your own transfer ro the hotel. On 8 July, we will be arriving back at Barcelona airport at 7:30pm, so please make sure that your selected flight does not depart before 9:20pm (The advantage of this departure time is that it gives us almost a full extra day in the field)
Alternatively, those travelling to the Catalan Pyrenees independently can arrange to meet the group at the hotel on the first evening.
Group size: maximum 14 persons.
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
Alternatively contact Jeff Clarke on 01925 790753, or E-mail: