Mas de Melons-Alfés is one of the most representative natural spaces of the dryland agricultural environment. It contains predominantly barley crops and other cereals together with almond and olive groves. As a whole, it is one of the best examples of pseudo-steppic habitats in Catalonia. There's a wide range of steppic birds, making it one of the most well loved places in Catalonia by national and international ornithologists.
On the other hand, a visit to the area allows us to enter into an agriculture that has its own identity going back to past times. You can find agricultural infrastructures from centuries past, such as small wells or cisterns made of stone or the well-known stone cabins, which give clues to how farming was carried out just a hundred years ago, which was not too different to how it was done more than a thousand years ago.
During your stay, it would be well worth visiting the Mas de Melons nature reserve, the Alfés thyme bushes, the Cogul cave paintings or losing yourself in some of the local villages, where there is a good example of local products, among which we recommend olive oil.
FLORA AND VEGETATION
The patches of vegetation between the crops often include small herbaceous and shrubby formations. These are generally formed of brushwood and thyme bushes, but the areas of esparto grass or kermes oak are particularly interesting as they provide shelter and feeding areas for many vertebrates. In this area, moreover, the thyme bushes of Alfés are notable as being the largest of their kind in Catalonia.
The Mas de Melons-Alfés drylands are home to communities of birds that can be considered representative of the pseudo-steppic dryland habitat of Europe. Among other species the most notable are the Dupont's lark, the pin-tailed sandgrouse, the little bustard, the stone-curlew, the greater short-toed lark, the calandra lark and the lesser grey shrike. We should also mention a species that became extinct more than 50 years ago, the great bustard. For more information on these species, you can consult the following link:
In general, the drylands are well loved by ornithologists because they are the home of species that can rarely be seen in any other environment. In Mas de Melons-Alfés you can see almost all the species typical of steppic habitats. In addition, the space also presents a variety of easy to find birds of prey species.