Archive for February, 2011

Three winter birds in Barcelona

Written by Lucy Brzoska

These three insectivores find winter feeding opportunities in Barcelona’s sheltered urban environment on the Mediterranean coast.  They also share an ability to go about their business undisturbed by human proximity.

White wagtails are a common sight on the pavements and in the parks, careering after their prey.  One theory for the constant tail wagging is that it gives an impression of alertness to potential predators.  This Wagtail, zigzagging along the paths in Pedralbes Park, wears a winter plumage, with white throat and chin, and a faint yellow tinge to the face.  In summer they look much more pied.

white-wagtail-motacilla-alba-winter-plumage

By the end of the winter the Black redstarts who’ve moved into town become quite approachable, though finding corners where they can stay aloof from the bustle and noise.  In comparison with the Wagtails, they’re often to be seen static on a vantage point, sharply scanning the vicinity for food.  A beautiful male was sitting on one of the fig trees of Montjuic, smoky grey plumage fluffed out on a crisp cold day.

black-redstart-phoenicurus-ochruros-adult-male

This Chiffchaff was one of several who had gathered around the park pond, snatching insects while hovering over the water or scooping them off the surrounding wall.  Small and inconspicuous, one regularly comes to the balcony to pick off the tiny bugs that always seem to infest my plants.

chiffchaff-phylloscopus-collybita