Summer 2021 Project Under The Med Sea. Late Spring May – Mid June

All this summer as much as I can I’ve been visiting a magical world. A world I discovered last year on holiday in Mallorca. A world whose outer bubble I see everyday but never give much thought what’s under the surface. A world I’ve only glimpsed at in photos. A world all winter I couldn’t wait to visit as summer came. A world that holds so much allure and mystery humans still haven’t explored perhaps even 1/3 of it. 

Almost every week I’ve snorkelled with a cloud of baby fish. One week they’re super tiny, the next almost teenagers

It started with P wanting me to snorkel. Mallorca is perhaps one of the best places in the Western Mediterranean to snorkel. In the summer the waters are warm, clear and rocky. Rocks perfect for fish, warm and clear perfect for humans to visit without having to suit up. Back in Barcelona I got little sad. I didn’t think I could snorkel or visit under the sea until the following summer. It’s a city beach, there’s not going to be anything hanging around in the water. That changed the day I saw a flash of silver treading water. The next day I took my googles and snorkel. A few days later so P and others would believe me there’s fish along the city beaches his old Go Pro. The Go Pro turned into an Olympus Tough 6 with this year since about late May as often as I can I’ve been in the water visiting the city fish. It might not be the best, clearest waters however it’s world I feel’s secret as few snorkel where I go. That’s changed a bit this year as Decathlon opened up in a local mall with easy access to snorkels more have been visiting, but I think most on the beach think I’m crazy. 

My friends! Saddled Sea Breams

I always believe salt water cures almost anything. Having a bad day, it’s too hot, having a good day, that cooling hug it gives as you take dip makes you forget about everything. When I watch the fish just be, everything slips away. The sea and it’s inhabitants don’t know about how your day’s been, how’s your week’s been, they don’t care if you’re happy or sad. They’re just going about eating, trying not to be prey, hunting, just being. In a crazy way I’ve made friends with a few. Okay maybe not friends, but they always say hi if they’re around. Saddled sea breams are known to be friendly but are probably just checking me out. From visiting almost daily for about 3 months I feel kinda protective of them and the rest of the fish I’ve seen travelling this summer. They don’t know about what’s happening outside of where they live. They might be noticing climate change, they might not be. They haven’t got a voice to fight back to say help like land animals can (maybe Orcas are as they’re the oceans bullies. One rogue pod has been attacking boats in the Med and Atlantic. El Pais in English who first reported it. BBC article). I don’t have to tell you their habitats are changing. For most they’ll only do something when there’s nearly no fish to eat.

Sunken treasure! A Barcelona street paving tile. As I more of less snorkel in the same area I recognise the rocks but I’ve never found this tile again

The below photos are from late May to mid June. I’d had the camera all winter only to test it out 2 minutes before going in. It’s point and shoot right? Nope. There’s a little more to it Nat hence the bad photography and for now they’re jpegs. The sea bottom back in May and June had a lot of seaweed/plants growing. Now in August there’s more peacock’s tail. Yep I got a Mediterranean marine ID book 🤓 And yes I spook myself out when the visibility’s low. When I didn’t know what was just beneath the shoreline when I swam or treaded water I didn’t freak out much. Now I know what’s under there, for every big fish, there’s an even bigger fish…

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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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City Wildlife #2

I started watching on Netflix this week a documentary film Chasing Coral. Chasing coral to witness its death. Out of sight out of mind is how the documentary describes how most people see under the oceans and seas and they want this to change. The oceans and seas are taking a massive hit from climate change by absorbing the heat trapped in our atmosphere from rising CO2 levels mostly due from burning fossil fuels. If they didn’t our surface temperature would be unbearable. The corals are the first to take the hit with bleaching as sea temperatures rise due to the heat absorption.

The bleaching occurs when the coral dies leaving only a white skeleton behind. Shortly after algae takes over leaving an underwater wispy moss like mound of shapes. If the water coral live in goes up by 2 degrees they die in mass coral bleaching. The fish which live in the coral die, people who depend on the corals are out of work. About 500 million people depend on coral reefs for food and work. I won’t lie, I cried at the corals dying in the time lapses. The magical, mysterious underwater cities gone in a few weeks or even a few days.

It’s not just corals under threat from climate change. All animals, insects, fish, crops are under threat from climate change. Even butterflies you see in the summer to birds you hear singing out. Some will adapt and thrive, others won’t survive. It’s not too late to save those we can. Little acts make a bigger impact. This winter you can set the heating not as high or the air con as low if winter is your summer. Imagine a world without polar bears who have less sea ice every year or a world without penguins, lions, elephants or parrots. It’s morbid, but it’s happening. I’m nerdy and geeky with animals. They make me smile minus the killing they do. Seeing butterflies and dragonflies make me smile, even the mice and rats who sprint across the path in front of me at night while I’m cycling make me smile.

Anyways August wildlife mostly spotted as the zoo, Parc de la Ciutadella or on holiday in Mallorca.

Mallorca sea ducks

Ducks I learnt this year sleep while floating, head tucked under a wing, are semi nocturnal and can swim in both fresh and salt water!

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