Birdwatching from Caro, the highest point in Terres de l'Ebre
An observatory is the ideal place for contemplating, observing and interpreting a panoramic view or particular elements in the landscape (1). In Els Ports Nature Park, the most emblematic observatory is the one in Caro.
The peak of Caro standing at 1441m high, which lies in the district of Roquetes, is the highest in Terres de l'Ebre and the Tarragona region. It is a recommended visiting place for everyone, and is also an interesting ornithological area. The ornithology brochure edited by the Terres de l’Ebre Board of Tourism (2) marks it as the final point in route number 04, from Tortosa to Caro.
We recommend you climb up to Caro, making various stops along the way at interesting points, so that you can enjoy this route which lasts between 3 and 5 hours. The ascent from the plain to Caro peak covers different terrain and we should remain alert to make the most of seeing different species on the way.
Route and ornithological interest
From Roquetes, go towards Els Reguers on the T-342 and in 3.1km turn left towards Caro peak.
In the olive groves on the plain during the winter when the olives ripen, there are many examples of song thrush (Turdus phylomelos), common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). In the summer you can also see, or rather hear, the western orphean warbler (Sylvia hortensis).
On entering the Park you must stop and check out the rocky terrain with your binoculars to spot the black wheatear (Oenanthe leucura) and the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius). A frequent visitor to this area is also the short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus).
A little further on at Caracol (snail) fountain, where there is a statue of a wild goat, you will easily see forest passerines. In more open areas of vegetation is the European rock bunting (Emberiza cia) and during the winter, the alpine accentor (Prunella collaris) is a common visitor.
Carry on up the Caracol road to El Portell mirador (viewpoint), with views of the Ebro valley and the impressive rocky terrain of Fortalesa-Barcina. In the winter, Portell viewpoint is a great place to try your luck with the wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria); you have to search patiently along the crags to your right.
At the crossroads in the Mascar area, turn left going up towards Caro. Leave your vehicle at the car park which is 150m from the summit and walk to the newly renovated viewpoint. This is a 70m2 wooden platform constructed over the land at the very top of the mountain. There are informative signs which are adapted for the blind. The Obra Social “la Caixa”, Generalitat de Catalunya and Tarragona Town Council met the cost of the viewpoint renovation work, as well as improving the road and car park (3).
Once at Mirador de Caro (Caro viewpoint), you really should enjoy the landscape here of the last stretch of the Ebro valley and the slopes in Els Ports Nature Park. You will see birds of prey like the Eurasian griffon (Gyps fulvus) and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and in the summer, the alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba) and common swift (Apus apus) which hunt for insects around the summit, making noisy swoops towards the ground.
In the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) groves nearby you can also see the red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) with relative ease.
If you want to carry on walking a bit more you can take the Barcina route (4) which starts 1.7km before reaching the summit. There is an informative panel at the side of the road, on a bend where you can also leave your car. This is an easy straight route 3.2km long, which increases you chances of seeing birds like the dartford warbler (Sylvia undata) and the booted eagle (Aquila pennata) as well as mammals like the wild goat (Capra pyrenaicasubsp. hispanica).
- Do not go on windy days or those with low visibility.
- Check the weather forecast for Caro mountain: www.meteo.cat/prediccio/pirineu/picsBlog/caro
- The Access to Caro could be cut off for various reasons such as fire risk during the summer or snow in the winter etc. So be careful and respect Forest Rangers instructions.
1. The definition of viewpoint is included in the 01 EUROPARC manual which is available in the Documentation Centre at PN Els Ports and in Pdf on the EUROPARC-España website. Hernández de la Obra, J., Gómez-Limón García, J. Manual on concepts of public use in protected natural areas. Madrid: Fundación Fernando González Bernáldez, 2005. p. 50.
2. West, S. Observation of birds in Terres de l'Ebre. Tortosa: Patronat de Turisme de la Diputació de Tarragona (Tarragona Board of Tourism), 2007. p. 17.
3. More information on work at the viewpoint in the news article Inauguration of the Caro viewpoint published on the Els Ports Natural Park website on 23 December 2016.
4. For more information on routes in the Caro area and Avellanes Cave please look at the Park website.