THE NATURAL PARK
The Parc Natural del Montgrí, les Illes Medes I el Baix Ter is a protected area that captivates for its beauty.
In just one park you can find unique and singular spaces such as the Montgrí mountain, the Medes islands and its seabed, and the low stretch of one of the most important rivers in Catalonia, the Ter.
The Montgrí mountain, with its famous bishop silhouette that rests its feet on the water, is a perfect lookout with breathtaking views of l’Empordà. There is a continental dune that crosses between Mont-Pla mountain and Muntanya Gran of l’Estartit, and in some places it has a maximum depth of 30 meters. At the end of the 19th century, the people of Torroella and l’Estartit decided to transform the dunes into a pine forest to stop its progression. That is why nowadays we can find a forest in the middle of a limestone rock mountain with typical mediterranean vegetation. This also allows us to find a plant from dunar ecosystems in a forest. This protected plant is called Stachys maritima. Pay attention to try and find one! It is very difficult to differenciate because it is a small plant and it camouflages with the environment. In addition, this plant can only be found in Costa Brava. We recommend you to spend some time doing the path to Cala Montgó by bike or walking, either to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the cliffs or to take a bath in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Medes Islands are a must see for scuba divers from all around the globe. Its colourful seabed is home for some protected fish and marine plant species, and, sometimes, you can even encounter dolphins! There are posidonia meadows, which is one of the richest ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea, and coral sea bottoms, which are fragile slow growth species. Some protected species that we can find in the Medes Islands are the nacre, red gorgonian, or grouper. It is important to mention the nesting birds that breed not only on the Islands but on the cliffs as well, such as the european shag, or some herons. Also, there are incredible stories and legends about barbarous pirates...
The Ter river, after a journey of 130 miles from the village of Setcases, comes to die at the Mediterranean Sea at Gola del Ter. A unique place that you cannot miss during your visit to the Parc Natural del Montgrí, les Illes Medes i el Baix Ter.
Below you will find some species from the Parc Natural that are worth to mention and which we can find during the tours with burricleta or segway:
The Common kingfisher is one of the most eye-catching birds that visit us in the Parc Natural. During winter we can find it on the coastline, given the fact that it prefers to breed in slow course rivers with trees and river boarders suitable for nesting. It nests in sandbanks, where it excavates a tunnel of approximately 1 metre up to the nesting chamber. There, it builds the nest and breeds the hatchlings on stacked fish spines. Its main source of nutrients are fish, but it can eat aquatic arthropods and its larvae. It stays on tree branches, awaiting movements on the water indicating the presence of a fish. Then, it rapidly dives into the water to hunt its prey with its strong beak. After coming out of the water, the colourful feathers are even brighter than before.
The Eurasian hoopoe is another bird that likes to show off its distinctive feathers. It breeds in rural areas and open lands with forests and bush areas. It is a summer bird in the Iberian Peninsula, but in the South and East it is a resident or hibernating bird. During autumn it emigrates to the North and Centre of Africa and it returns the next February, with the arrival of good weather. It stays a long time on the ground and it needs low grass areas. It feeds putting the beak inside the humid soil to hunt insects and its larvae, preferably crickets and beetles. It also feeds on processionary moth, of which it is the natural predator. It builds the nest in tree holes, stone walls, or nest boxes.
If we move towards the coastline, we may observe little birds running around on the sand. This bird is the Kentish plover. It nests in our shores during spring and summer. It first lays the eggs during the months of April and May, and then it lays the eggs again in June. This bird builds the nest on the sand, where it places the eggs, and it protects the nest using the materials that the sea deposits on the beach. In some areas of the coast, this birds are being forced to nest in inland fields, due to the hight impact of mass tourism.
Even though birds are more attractive for their colourful feathers and their singing, we cannot forget the plants. In the Parc Natural we can find a typical specie of dunar environments, the European marram grass. This plant is used to fix the dunes before replanting shrub species and trees, such as the pine tree. Nowadays, because of the destruction of their habitat, the dunar environments, the European marram grass has a scarce distribution in the Catalan coast.
Are you curious already and want to know more?
At Ocitania we have prepared tours with burricleta and segway to discover some of those magical places. We have searched lookouts that allow us to see the Parc Natural del Montgrí, les Illes Medes i el Baix Ter and l’Empordà in all their glory, as well as special hidden corners full of nature and culture that we know you are going to love!
For more information you can go to the Natural Park Guide or the Short Guide. You can also visit the Natural Park website. We also encourage you to take a look at the 108 birds of l'Empordà, an indispensable tool both for young or experienced ornithologists.
Pictures taken from the web page Ornitho, of the Catalan Institute of Ornithology (ICO).