Bumble Bees

No surprise my Easter weekend was spent taking advantage of being able to go to the zoo a few times. I could have caught the train or gone someplace else, but no where is as green tropical green, filled with wild birds that are more used to humans to pose and is free. Free for me being a member*.

One of my favourite insects were out too, bumble bees. I like bumble bees. They happily ignore everything around them apart from flowers. By design unlike honey bees, they shouldn’t be able to fly, yet they do. Happily flying flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen, pollinating plants. Growing up I used to see loads of bumbles bees, now living in a city seeing them makes me feel warm inside. Unlike honey bees, they live in a smaller colonies. Sadly like honey bees, their populations are in decline due to pesticides, habitat loss and climate change. No bees, no human food. Bees do about 80% of pollination work on cultivated crops. No human or machine can replace their work! It’s estimated without bees humans would be able to survive just 4 years. 

Reading up this could have been a queen. In the autumn fall most of the bumbles bees die leaving only the queen hibernating until the spring

There are ways you can help these gentle giants by planting wild flowers, native flowers or bee friendly flowers in gardens or on balconies. It might not be much, bumble bees might not even come, but other pollinators will. Choosing food if possible with less pesticides so the demand for reduced pesticide food goes up and prices to the consumer down, using less or even better no pesticides gardening. Buy organic food if you can (and help the price of organic food go down!) as they usually use less pesticides. Being mindful of what type of honey you buy. Some honey the bees aren’t kept in good conditions. Support local beekeepers, build homes for native bees, put out a bee bath, plant trees in gardens for bees to rest in! More ideas here

* My views on zoo’s here.

Winter City Birds

Happy Spring! 

Jackdaws

Catalunya’s finally easing up some covid-19 restrictions! We can now travel freely throughout all of Catalunya however only visiting other regions in Spain for work or exceptional conditions. Malls have reopened, chiringuitos beach bars, life guards are back for the summer season. Fingers crossed they don’t roll them back in a few weeks. Each Spanish region has been given powers to control the pandemic bar total home confinement, with the central government setting a curfew that’s been in place since October last year. It’s due to end the end of May but with numbers rising again, it’ll probably be in place until the end of the summer. 

Starling

Birds being as free as they are, are the lucky ones. They can come and go as they please. Only worrying about food and predators. Sometimes I wonder if people are mean to birds, killing them as they can come and go as they please as humans they can’t. They’re free to fly away from danger, they’re not subject to complex human cultures. Well the lucky ones are. Many kept for food, for sport in conditions no one would want to live in, seen as nothing more than money or a commodity (says she who would like another cat and in doing so to rescue one animal, many more will have to be killed to feed it) or persecuted for only trying to feed themselves by eating crops and plants. 

Birds, fill the skies with song, colour, pollinate plants, spread seeds, are landscapers, the clean up crews, kept wetlands in check, help play vital roles in natures delicate balance as all over their habits are shrinking due to deforestation and climate change. Did you know that veeries can predict if the Atlantic hurricane season is going to be bad just from the time they leave to migrate to Brazil (something I learnt from Netflix’s Connected)? A tiny bird can sense the weather months in advance. That’s some crazy mind blowing, amazing predictions that could be lost to climate change.

Anyway, some wild zoo birds this winter back in January and February. There’s no way I’d see them in the parks. I think they know they’re safe at the zoo (well not the pigeons the seagulls hunt). 

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Winter City Parakeets

No one knows the origin of Barcelona’s parakeet population. Some say they were stowaways on boats arriving in Barcelona Port in the 1970’s, others say they’re descended from Barcelona Zoo or house pet escapees, or house pets released when the owners couldn’t deal with them anymore pre 2013 when it was legal to trade Monk and Collared parakeets, just 2 of the 4 types of ‘Spanish’ parakeets.

Some like me love watching a streak of green as they fly by, listening into their cheeky chatter, watching how they use roads as their own flight paths. Other people regard them as pests that have now travelled further outside the city ruining crops. Some say their nests are dangerous due to how much they weigh if they fell on someone. Barcelona isn’t the only city in Spain with parakeets. Madrid and Valencia are just a few Spanish cites with their own populations. 

To be honest, they’re pretty kinda cool birds, happy to share with the pigeons, sparrow, starlings and blackbirds for snacks. The other day I think Parc de la Ciutadella had been closed for most of the day. Only one entrance gate open with a temporally closed sign everybody was ignoring. I had bread for the ducks, my new thing with the covid restrictions so I get my bike ride to a green place which I’m aiming to still do now restrictions are slowing being eased. I wasn’t going to go seeing all the people, but thought the ducks and geese would be extra hungry without their usual snack feeders, which I‘m not one as you can tell the ones that are. A few parakeets lined the pond railing waiting for bread pieces so nobody got fed much that day. Even the seagulls were out hungry. Knowing they wouldn’t stand a chance with pigeons that also wanted in, I placed a few pieces on the railing. Some almost took a piece out my hand, others a little more shy waiting until I wasn’t looking. While I like feeding the ducks and geese, parakeets accepting my bread made me feel extra special! Now the zoo’s back open I’ve been seeing them more relaxed than in the park. Less people around, more trees to nest in. Seeing them too as I cycle flying along streets and ramblas with twigs twice as long as them up into the trees for their nests. That flash of green and cheeky squark lights up my day 🙂

Snacks!

Winter Ducks and Geese

Due to recent covid-19 restrictions in Cataluna, aka gyms closed, to get my bike ride that would have been to the gym I cycled to Parc Ciutadella to see the ducks.

Cataluna for most of January closed gyms, shopping malls, restricted bar and restaurant hours amongst other covid-19 measures. As infection levels are dropping in Cataluna they’re easing restrictions this week (although I’m sure this has something to do with Catalan elections next week). I’m just happy gyms have reopened. I don’t always have the same motivation to workout at home as I do going to a gym. I’m happy too I can indoor climb again! Sometimes it was dark, other times I made it out in daylight hours to the park. Most of the time the ducks and geese were around for snacks. I was happy the park was open and I’ll for sure continue to drop by to say hi to the ducks and feed them now gyms are open!

I started around the end of December taking bread to feed them and the geese. A few geese were so polite, making sure they got front row seats with gentle sweet tiny honks asking for more. Any ducks that got close they just did a neck sweep. The ducks make a ton noise swimming across the pond as if to tell everyone there’s bread. When they get close a few chase away others but I’ve noticed the younger females are a little timid (can tell by size) and swim away if it’s too busy. I make sure to throw bread in their direction. When the seagulls are around it get crazy. Seagulls have amazing vertical aerial take off skills, are up in the air as soon as you raise your hand. They seem to know exactly where the bread is going to land, loads diving down at the same time. Both the geese and ducks close their eyes and duck out of the way as if to avoid getting stabbed in the eye. As the seagulls are so quick you can kinda fool them for a moment to give the ducks and geese an opportunity for bread by raising your hand as if to throw in one direction which the seagulls follow and then throwing it in the other direction. This only works a few times as the seagulls learn quick. 

I swear the few times I visited the ducks without food, they bitched at each other she has nothing. Both the ducks and geese turned towards each other, swam away quacking as if to say, nothing this time, puh!

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Flamingos, Calpe

I can’t believe I haven’t shared before seeing wild flamingos from a few years ago! Real life flamingos not zoo flamingos. 

This flock lives on an old Roman salt mine now a lagoon, Las Salines de Calpe a Nature Park and Reserve in Calpe, Alicante, Spain. I was surprised that weren’t as pink as I’d thought they be and by how much larger and taller they were than the ones at Barcelona Zoo. Their necks appear longer than the American and Chilean flamingos at the zoo. Sometimes I feel sad for the ones at the zoo. Their flight feathers are removed and when they try to get air I feel bad for them. It’s always different to see them free. I have spilt views on zoos here.

Please excuse the quality of the photos. They were taken a few years ago before I understood more depth of field, light etc. 

Only handful were pink. Maybe they knew the best brine shrimp, algae and larvae spots!

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