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). 

Continue reading “Winter City Birds”

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!

Continue reading “Winter Ducks and Geese”

San Francisco Botanical Gardens 

9,000 different plants from all over the world at San Francisco Botanical Gardens take you on a journey across the globe. You can’t just look in one direction ahead! Looking up magnolias, redwoods, looking down camellias, herbs, moss. Each twist and turn of the paths takes you almost if there’s no one around a secret garden on the other side of the world. Or down the road in the California garden!

We had enough of the city, wanting some fresh air when we visited San Francisco earlier this year. The botanical gardens and Japanese Tea Garden were a few places on our list of places to go thinking they’re in the same garden. The Japanese Tea Garden is in the same park, Golden Gate Park but not in the same garden if that makes sense. Golden Gate Park while it looks close to the centre or downtown San Francisco isn’t. For some reason looking at the map of San Fransisco bay area I thought it was like a European town with everything more of less in walking or a metro distance. Err, no! You need a car to get around, unless you want to do multiple buses, taxis or Uber. A car worked out cheaper than Uber. We stayed just outside San Francisco in Belmont, Redwood Shores and I think the garden was a 40 minute drive away. We’d thought we’d have enough time to do both however the botanical gardens were bigger than we’d expected. By the time we’d left (after a who’s right which way back to the entrance! I think we both compromised and worked it out) it was 16.30 winter closing hours.

Bamboo gardenDSCF0072Puffer fish!

We could have easily have spent more time in the gardens. It’s split into Californian indigenous plants within their own geographic location and into South America, Asia Africa and Europe. The Mediterranean Garden features native Californian plants along side plants from South-western Australia, Chile and South Africa all grouped within their own geographical location. The Mild Temperate Climate features plants from Eastern Australia, New Zealand and a Japanese Moon Continue reading “San Francisco Botanical Gardens “

February 2020 Catch Up

It’s nearly Spring already and the end of March! One of the longest months aside from April. How did that happen?! 

February this year was a good month purely for the reason I was still on my holiday vacay!

Welcome to the jungle. Manoa Falls, Oahu Hawaii

The first few days in February were spent in Oahu, Hawaii before flying back to California to explore the Big Sur and see Bill Burr in some random outback country town part of California. Driving to the venue we were rubbing our eyes if what we was seeing was real. We drove through a mini Danish town right down the black timber architecture lit up with fairy Continue reading “February 2020 Catch Up”