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Cap de Creus / Cabo de Creus Catalonia, Spain, Stephen Christopher

Catalan Bird tours

Stephen Christopher


The expression ‘exposed to the elements’ has never been more true than of the Cap de Creus (the last glimpse of the Pyrenees before they plunge into the Mediterranean) as the effects of wind, fire and water are clearly visible for all to see.

They shape everything. From the oddly-formed plants and trees sculptured by the hands of the tramuntana, or northwind, to the jagged cliffs and islands honed by the relentless action of the ocean. And then there's the birdlife:

Any place that juts into the sea as if striving to justify the title 'most easterly point of Spain', is clearly going to be a good spot for seabirds, particularly if the llevante, or eastwind, is blowing them coastbound.

And, at the right time of year, you can actually put down your binoculars and revel at the sight of Cory's, Balearic and Yelkouan Shearwaters all floating on a cushion of air just a few metres below you.

That same wind of course carries through migrating Kites, Eagles and Honey Buzzard, all of which also depend on its power, like the resident Bonelli's Eagle, for hunting. Migrant passerines too, have reason to be grateful for its assistance but, if it turns to tramuntana, they seek shelter from its cold bite in the patches of cork oak, a tree surviving on the Cap in part due to its resistence to fire.

This third element is mainly induced by man, as farmers, perhaps rashly, burn back tracts of land to try to preserve and expand grazing pasture. Once done though it provides habitat for Rock and Ortolan Bunting, Black and Black-eared Wheatears, Wood and Thekla Lark and the Tawny Pipit.

Warblers too capitalise on the regeneration process with Spectacled Warbler taking residence during the 'grassy with scattered bushes' phase, Dartford and Subalpine Warbler moving in when it turns to scrub and the Sardinian Warbler much later.

But perhaps for the final word we should return to water, who's intricate rock carvings in ages past and present have provided homes for Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Pallid and Alpine Swift and both the Rock and Blue Rock Thrush.


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