CI­U­DADELA PARK

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

The city’s largest park is also one of the best places for birds FRANCE par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the sum­mer months when fun runs seem to be the or­der of the day. Nev­er­the­less, there is still rea­son­able bird­ing to be had de­spite the crowds. Look out for White Storks that breed through­out the area, a host of passer­ines in­clud­ing King­fisher, Ibe­rian Green and also Lesser Spot­ted Wood­peck­ers. Dur­ing the win­ter it is also worth search­ing for Dip­per, these birds will be the black-bel­lied con­ti­nen­tal race. If you want to spice things up a tad, then a foray just out­side of the city is to be rec­om­mended. One good place to visit is the Zolina Reser­voir. Water­birds are the ob­vi­ous tar­gets here with nu­mer­ous Coot, dab­bling ducks, such as Shov­eler and, per­haps, the oc­ca­sional Shel­duck present. It is also a rar­ity hotspot and the heart rates of the lo­cal bird­ers were sent rac­ing re­cently with the ap­pear­ance of a Red-necked Phalarope. The scrubby ter­rain that sur­rounds the reser­voir is good for Span­ish spe­cial­i­ties, like Ibe­rian Grey Shrike, Crested Lark, Dart­ford War­bler and, dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son, Red-backed Shrike, Tawny Pipit and Bee-eater can be found. Look up and you may be re­warded with soar­ing rap­tors in­clud­ing Mon­tagu’s Har­rier and Booted Ea­gle dur­ing the sum­mer and, more gen­er­ally, Red Kite and Grif­fon Vul­ture. Fi­nally, for an out-of-town treat, there is per­haps no more gor­geous a place to visit that the Lumbier Gorge area, with its spec­tac­u­lar rock for­ma­tions. This pic­turesque na­ture reserve is a nar­row gorge that has been forged by the River Irati. The red­dish cliff faces are punc­tu­ated with cracks that are of­ten pop­u­lated by hang­ing stunted trees and bushes serv­ing as per­fect nest­ing sites. Choughs cry above the sound of the rush­ing wa­ter while Grif­fon Vul­tures nest on the ledges. If you walk the sign­posted path at the foot of the cliffs, that traces the course of the river, you should be able to find Cirl Bunt­ing, Rock Thrush and also Dip­per. A win­ter visit may re­ward you with a glimpse of a beau­ti­ful Wall­creeper that would have spent the pre­vi­ous sum­mer high up in the Pyre­nees.

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