Dia i hora: 17 de setembre, de 9.30h a 13.30h Punt de trobada: Castell de Concabella.
Plans de Sió
This is the largest SPA area in the Lleida plain, with 10,382 hectares distributed over three regions
Els Plans de Sió, with its sweeping slopes, is characterised by a steppe landscape forged by the hands of farmers over centuries. Its dryland ecosystems, together with those from Lleida are unique to Catalonia and extraordinarily fragile. It is home to numerous bird species including many which are protected such as the little bustard, the European roller, the calandra lark, the lesser kestrel and the Montagu's harrier, which depend on the delicate ecological balance inherent in the area to live and breed.
Els Plans de Sió is situated between the regions of La Segarra, L'Urgell and a small part of La Noguera. It has a surface area of 10,382 ha and the largest SPA area in the Lleida plain. It extends over Els Plans de Sió, Tarroja de Segarra, Torrefeta i Florejacs, Agramunt, Puigverd d'Agramunt, Tàrrega, Tornabous, Barbens, Oliola and Ossó de Sió.
It forms part of the Nature 2000 Network and is also a SPA, special protection area for birds.
KNOW THE PLACE
The area can be described as a mosaic of barley and wheat fields divided up by lines of terraced trees (olive and almond trees), dry stone walls, scatterings of little holm oaks as well as some fallow and heathlands. The stone cabins, the mill ponds that traverse the course of the river Sió, the sheep cotes, and ponds among other folk architecture are all features that together embody the unique nature of the area. It is speckled with little medieval villages; its castles and Romanesque churches are its most notable sites of historic heritage; some of the castles can be visited and many have been well conserved.
One of the area's great attractions is its expansive horizons, vivid skies and star-filled nights. The changing seasons transform the landscape beyond all recognition. Each season has its own characteristic colours: the disconcerting magic of the mist in winter, the green and colourful splendour of spring, the potent yellow of the ears of wheat, the bales of straw and stalks during the harvest season or the earthy muted hues of autumn.
Els Plans de Sió has a Drylands of Lleida Interpretation Centre, situated in the Concabella castle, which allows us to find out more about steppe environments to be found here; their flora, wildlife and above all the most characteristic bird species of the area, as well as why it is important to preserve these ecosystems to protect them. Moreover, there are routes that allow you to discover this environment close-up.
FLORA AND VEGETATION
The flora and vegetation of Els Plans de Sió are characterized by the fact that they are specifically adapted to harsh conditions resulting from the area being a steppe environment: low rainfall, arid, saline, gypseous soil, with a climate of extreme contrasts between winter and summer.
Agriculture has most profoundly transformed the landscape and its vegetation. Currently, 97% of the area is used to grow crops, mainly barley and wheat.
The wild vegetation is conserved in the terraces, fallow and heathlands which are of great importance because of their uniqueness. These areas are formed of rosemary scrub with gutwort, false brome thickets and areas of albardine esparto grass as well as some holm oaks, maquis, kermes oaks with juniper or areas of rushes. There is also a high variety of lichenic flora.
The passing of the seasons brings with it a metamorphosis of the colours in the landscape, coinciding with the life cycles of the plants: resplendent green and the colours of spring, yellows and ochres of summer and the ashy, browns of autumn and winter.
The flora and vegetation of Els Plans de Sió could be seen as a mosaic of different environments:
- In the fields the main crop to be grown are winter cereals such as barley and wheat; as well as oleaginous crops such as rapeseed and legumes such as peas. There are also crop trees; predominantly olive and almond trees.
- On the terraces wild fruit trees can be found such as fig, quince, pomegranate, beam, mulberry, hackberry, some walnut trees and even the odd cherry tree.
- In the fields some unjustifiably named weeds or unwanted plants grow. Of these some are edible and have medicinal properties: there's an abundance of hoary cress, poppies, wild radish, wild oat, ryegrass, pussy willow grass, St Augustine grass, Johnson grass, green purslane, bird's foot, medick, spotted stalked tree mallow, bind weed, red clover, sow thistle, St John's-wort, knotweed and field chamomile among others.
- In the woods and heathlands we find kermes oaks, perennials, mainly holm oaks and common juniper, but also phoenicean juniper, and some pine trees.
- Among the trees of the thickets, in the terraces and heathlands there is a huge variety of medicinal and aromatic plants, such as thyme, rosemary, chamomile and fennel. There are other shrubs like broom, field eryngo, honeysuckle, bramble, midland hawthorn, hairy tare, dog rose, cotoneaster, dagger flower, fringed rue, cotton lavender, kiss-me-quick, purple false brome, prostrate canary clover and white wormwood, spiny restharrow and albardine.
- The river banks of the Sió are populated by deciduous trees like ash, elm, white willow, elder, silver poplar, poplar and acacias. In these shady, humid places there's an abundance of blady grass, wild cane, sharp rushes, white violets and in some places, cattail and Pyrenean lilies. And by the side of the river there are family vegetable patches.
The shortage of natural habitats and the profound agricultural transformation of the territory have caused some of the typical dryland plants to become significantly under threat. Consequently they've been included in the Catalogue of Endangered Flora of Catalonia.
Els Plans de Sió, along with the rest of the Lleida Drylands, are notable as being the only place in Catalonia where a number of bird species can be found. As a result, it was made a SPA - special protection area for birds. Species that have be designated as needing the most protection include the little bustard, the European roller, the calandra lark, the lesser kestrel and the Montagu's harrier. In the ornithology section we will discuss this in more detail.
On the other hand, there are many other animal groups, including:
Among the smallest are the black redstart, the greater spotted cuckoo, the corn bunting, the crested lark, the swift, the swallow, the red-capped lark, the sparrow, the common linnet, the white wagtail, the common chaffinch, the Eurasian crag martin, the nightingale, the European goldfinch, and the cerl bunting.
There are other species including the raven, the cuckoo, the Eurasian hoopoe, the jay, the magpie, the western jackdaw, the starling, the blackbird, the woodpecker, the red-necked nightjar, the moorhen, the coot, the pigeon, the European turtle dove, the wood pigeon, and the mistle thrush. Also to be found are the partridge and the quail, both of which are gallinaceous birds.
Birds of prey include the sparrow hawk or northern goshawk, the Bonelli's eagle and nocturnal birds like the little owl, the barn owl or the scops owl.
European rabbits, foxes, badgers, weasels, hedgehogs, bats, rats, mice and moles. Wild boars and roe deer.
Amphibians and reptiles
Snakes like Eurasian vipers, ladder snakes and Montpelier snakes, lizards, geckos and amphibians such as toads and frogs.
Arthropods, molluscs and other insects
Crickets, cicadas, flies and mosquitoes. Earwigs, ants, woodlice, beetles, grass hoppers, praying mantises, bees, wasps, ladybirds, dragonflies, drone bees, butterflies, spiders, fleas, ticks, worms, earthworms, caterpillars, pond skaters, snails, white gardens snails, and slugs.
Steppe birds depend on very special conditions to obtain shelter and food. Els Plans de Sió meets these conditions and is therefore a reserve for some specific bird species that can only be found in this dryland area of Catalonia. This area is part of the Natura 2000 Network and is a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA).
However, the type of ecosystem to be found in Els Plans de Sió is extremely fragile. Small variations, which can occur due to various causes, could prevent it from being a suitable habitat and nesting place for these birds.
One of the causes of these changes in the environment is the rise in farming in recent years. The biodiversity of this steppe environment finds its balance in the presence of crop fields alternating with barren and fallow lands, small forests, stone huts, taluses and terraces. Each element is important and indispensable for one or other species of protected bird. Each species has different needs and in this diversity find their ideal conditions. The tendency to reduce terraces, the loss of fallow land, and an ever increasing harvest period, among other things relating to agriculture and land use, harm this essential diversity. Agriculture, therefore, is a key element for the conservation and preservation of these protected species.
Species that have been designated as needing the most protection include the little bustard, the European roller, the calandra lark, and the Montagu's harrier. Also to be found are the hen harrier and the stone-curlew.
TO COMPLEMENT YOUR VISIT
EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES
The Concabella castle originated in the 11th century. From its medieval origin, the passage of different lineages transformed the old fortress into a stately palace.
It has lately been completely renovated, but still conserves some features from its medieval past including a square floor plan structure, large Renaissance windows, a latrine and three towers, one octagonal and two square in shape, and one with seven great arrow slits.
Concabella castle is today a centre for cultural and social events. It houses public services such as the municipal management offices and the town's medical office, as well as various cultural facilities, which include three heritage interpretation centres: the Castles of Sió Interpretation Centre, the Drylands of Lleida Interpretation Centre and the Pedrolo Space.
Areas of the Castle
- The Castles of Sió Interpretation Centre
- The Drylands of Lleida Interpretation Centre
- The Manuel de Pedrolo Space
- Documentary Collection of Manuel de Pedrolo
- Event's hall
- Exhibition hall
- Audiovisual room and educational workshop
- Tower viewpoint
- Tourist guide for interpretive spaces
- Workshops and educational activities
- Cultural activities
- Temporary exhibitions
- Concabella Castle shop
- Rental of halls for parties, events and meetings
C. de la Font, s/n - 25211 Concabella
Els Plans de Sió (Segarra)
Tel. 973 554 151
The first references to the Pallargues castle date back to the middle of the 11th century, when it went by the name Espallargues. Originally (11th C) the castle consisted of a watchtower and defence tower and, like many other defensive constructions, was progressively surrounded by houses to serve the needs of its lord until it grew into an urban nucleus. Its evolution has transformed it into the castle palace and the passage of time can be seen today in its stones and interior dwelling spaces.
Guided tours are available, and there is also a small shop with local products.
Friends of Concabella Castle Cultural Association
A non-profit organization whose objective is to stimulate the social and cultural life of the territory through the organization of all kinds of cultural activities, such as concerts, plays, talks and excursions, among others; it has a well established annual program. The emblem of the association is the festival of music that has been celebrated every October since 2005.
OTHER NEARBY AMENITIES AND SERVICES
Castles of Lleida (visits to the castles of Florejacs and Vicfred)
CAT Cervera (Cervera Council)
Cervera County Museum
Sitges Castle (Torrefeta i Florejacs Council)
Vallferosa Tower (Torà Council)
Montfalcó Murallat (Oluges Council)
Segarra county council website
Sikarra Nostra, Agroshop and La Segarra Interpretation Centre
Friends of Folk Architecture Association
C. Major, 7, 25218 El Canós - Els Plans de Sió
Tel. (+34) 616 361 519
Lo Cafè de les Pallargues
Pl. Major, 1 - 25212 Les Pallargues (Els Plans de Sió)
Tel. (+34) 617 803 982
Open every day, but only with prior reservation on Sundays at midday.
Restaurant Ca la Nuri
C. Pujolet, 1 - 25353 Claravalls (Tàrrega)
Tel. (+34) 618 835 791
From Monday to Friday and Sunday: lunches
Saturday: lunches and dinners
Sikarra Nostra, Agroshop and La Segarra Interpretation Centre
Pl. de l'Estació, s/n - 25270 Sant Guim de Freixenet (Lleida)
Tel. (+34) 973 294 438
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m.
Cal Perelló (equestrian tourism)
Guàrdia Lada summer camp
BonArea Pitch and Putt
Dia i hora: Dissabte 31 de juliol de 8h a 11h Punt de trobada: Plaça Major de Les Pallargues.