Thursday, August 24, 2023

Catalan holiday

Just got back from a family holiday in Catalunya. We spnt a week up in the Pyrenees, then a few days in Barcelona. We met up with our good friends the Chittendens, who drove in all the way from the UK. From a family perspective, it was a perfect holiday - stunning scenery, great activities, excellent food. Brownie points secured. Especially when these family activities include encounters with Lammergeiers and Dipper.

It was enjoyable just to hang around in the garden, that was full of birds. Western Subalpine, Western Bonelli's and Melodious Warblers seem to have all bred there. Pied Flys, both redstarts, Crested Tits and Short-toed Treecreepers - quite good fun.

Western Bonelli's

Western Subalpine

Short-toed Treecreeper always being a nightmare to photograph

Crested Tit

Baby Common Redstart

The garden was buzzing with butterflies, especially the unmown sections. I was using only my 400mm/f5.6 which isn't great for butterflies...

Lang's Short-tiled Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Wall Brown on a wall

Life is good, drinking a cold cerveza while enjoying such views

My morning birding sessions were a bit challenging. Thanks to Franco and his support of the Nazis in WW2, it was dark until 7am! Therefore I had limited time for birding before the family activities began. I spent a couple of early mornings on Rasos de Peguera, the nearest ski resort. It wasn't high enough up there for proper mountain birds (1900 m), but certainly had this high-altitude feel, distinctly different from the mid-elevation village where we stayed. 

Most dominant birds up there were Crossbills - flocks were moving around noisily, some perched nicely. I enjoyed watching them in their different ages and plumages - they're not a bird I am very familiar with. In Israel they are very rare and irregular. Also in Norfolk they aren't too apparent. It was good to take in their flight calls and silhouettes.

Someone's ringing them up there - two of these random birds I photographed were ringed. 
Another quality bird (for me) up there was Citril Finch. This is another species I haven't seen many times before, and never managed to photograph. Even this photo isn't great - at least it's something.

Butterflies were abundant there too, including many Grizzled Skippers and the magnificent Cardinal.

This photo was taken by my son Uri:

Pyrenean Chamoix

Then it was down to scorching-hot Barcelona. I acted like a stupid tourist for a bit, however typically while admiring the Segrada Familia I was more interested in the Peregrine flying above.

View of the city from Parc Güell at 40 degrees

The little birding I did in Barcelona was half productive. Annoyingly, Delta del Llobregat doesn't open up before 9am (!), when the heat was already unbearable. I did spend a relaxed and muy fun morning with my close friends Rafa and Alejandra (Rafa - it's A-Le-Jand-Ra, OK?). Birding was nice, nothing too especial.

Audouin's Gull 8M95

Even though I don't really do Category C birds, It would have been rude not to look for the small population of Black-rumped Waxbills that have taken up residence in Parc del Turó del Putxet. So I did, to maintain the checklist streak. And Mitred Parakeets were abundant.

Thanks to my family and to the Chittendens for all the fun we had together!

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