Barcelona 18-20 January 2013- Monk Parakeets and a fall of Black Redstarts?

Catalan weekend or snow at home?

The 18th January saw the perfectly forecasted heavy snowfall at home in Gloucestershire arrive, the garden was alive with birds feeding on all the things I had put out and it was not looking good for us getting away as Bristol Airport flights had been shut all day. This was a surprise Christmas present from my wife to have something to look forward to and break the winter up. The snow looked great and by midday we were both thinking it would be OK if we did not travel for the weekend.  Things remained on track, the authorities had cleared the roads and we got to the airport only to wait seven hours before finally getting off. Not ideal but conditions were harsh and they did well to go at all. Hats off to easyjet but an extra delay was a changover of non-easyjet groundstaff, one lot finishing a shift and another taking over…not seamless. A late arrival-0300 at the Chic and Basic Ramblas Hotel (recommended) and re-start of the day late morning on 19th. Obvious birds were Yellow-legged Gulls in the bins, harbourside rubbish bins that is. Ring-necked and Monk Parakeets. The latter the most obvious bird in the city and very common. Many were nest-building in the palm trees and a flock were feeding on berries/fruit in Parc Guell.

Monk Parakeets in Parc Guell

I did note Chiffchaff and Blackcap in the orange trees in the city centre but have to admit that tapas bars and vegetarian restuarants as gleaned from the Rough Guide to Barcelona were more of a distraction, excellent food and Cava! Many of our stops were to admire the work of Gaudi, Parc Guell being especially notable for the fantasy of even hallucinogenic inpsired architecture. All very interesting and a Crested Tit to boot. We took the open topped (with covering as it rained in the afternoon) bus tour, hop on and hop off on Saturday, the all day Metro ticket on Sunday. A short ride to the base of Montjuic and we walked all the way to the castle at the top, took the cable car back down (perhaps the wrong way but calories needed burning for the next meal). At Montjuic Castle the sun shone and the Crag Martins hawked the ramparts for insects. It was crawling with Black Redstarts….

A Crag Martin hurtles past the castle with docks below.

A fall of Black Redstarts?

The heavy snow fall across France may have been responsible for these birds heading further south, the heavy rain and misty conditions in Barcelona and along the coast could have caused them to drop down hence the high density of birds. Around 30-40 were feeding in a very small area at the castle. There is the possiblility that this is normal but it seemed too many for such a small area.

Here is a selction of studies of these active passerines, no adult males as they preferred to feed on the vines growing on the walls and pines opposite, they were aggressive to the other Black Redstarts present.

All images MJMcGill

Interesting to see the castle guns were made by Vickers, MOD.




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