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!

September 2020 Corn Moon

September’s always bitter sweet. Sweet as it’s warm, the water’s warm. Bitter as it’s the last summer month, days are getting shorter, beach trips are lucky if you can make them as carefree summer days are whispering see you later.

September’s full moon is the Corn Moon although it depends when the autumn Equinox is. If September’s full moon falls around the autumn Equinox it’s a Harvest Moon. If September’s full moon is in early September it’s the Corn Moon with October’s moon being the Harvest Moon. Last October’s was moon cycle was extra magical with 2 full moons in one month! September’s other moon names include Autumn Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Leaves Turning Moon. 

Few days old Full Corn Moon
Moonrise moon
04.30 can’t sleep moon
Dawn Moon rise

Dawn moon rises are always magical. Only around for a short time before they vanish as the sunrises. Sometimes I get to see the moon set in the mornings if I’m up and out as it follows the night light pattern as the sun does in the day.

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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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Recycle Less: The Elastic Band Hack

The elastic band hack for twisty lids on jars you can’t open! 

Sometimes twisty lids are so tight on jars they won’t open with cloth or a towel over the lid for grip. I’ve no idea how this idea came to me. Maybe from ads years ago for silicone discs placed over lids for extra grip to open. Place a 5mm wide elastic band over the outside of the lid, twist, viola 9/10 the lid opens. 

Lids for beans, chickpeas etc I give the lid a tap/bang on the side of the counter. Lids like peanut butter, kombucha bottles that have more groove twists (is that the right terminology for those lids?!) an elastic band works better. It also works on under the sink plumping when you have to clean out all the gunk, shudder. The trap deposit thing can be on there tight.

Elastic bands can be free too. Save the ones that come on vegetable bundles. While I don’t eat asparagus anymore after reading how much of a water intensive crop it is, diverting water from the locals who need it (I chose avocados instead. I know just as bad for water. I decided I could only have one of the two. I don’t miss asparagus), most of the wider elastic bands I have stashed are from asparagus. I understand how elastic bands for farms to bundle lettuces, kale, more leafy vegetables together quickly and easily for sale, but I’d wish they’d find a more eco alternative. I have heaps of thin elastic bands from those kale bundles I don’t know what to do with. When you see how elastic bands are made, you think twice before throwing them out. You can’t put them in the recycling and while it’s made from a sustainable source, rubber, the plantations or new plantations contribute to tropical deforestation as it’s a quick cash crop due to the demand for rubber for tyres. For something so small and throwaway it has a huge environmental cost. Birds can mistake them for worms feeding them to their young, animals can choke on them, the bands can get wrapped around beaks, mouths, legs, paws and end up in the sea where they’re mistaken for food again.

Do you throw out elastic bands, reuse, repurpose them or just keep them in that kitchen drawer like me?