Written by Lucy Brzoska
The three Honey buzzards soaring over Montjuic Castle run into a swarm of Alpine swifts, and start circling to gain height. When they are specks they continue southwards. They are the most notable of the raptors who take the Catalan coastal route.
Montjuic overflows with birds during autumn migration. Swallows are swooping low over freshly cut grass. The robin population has multiplied. One feisty individual is jostling other birds out of a stand of trees. The woods and parks become incredibly crowded with them: too many robins in the broth, so inevitably some have to keep moving further south or inland.
Another redbreast is in evidence, the Common redstart, far from common in Barcelona, and only glimpsed on spring and autumn passage. Unlike its not particularly close relative, the Black redstart, who arrives to spend the winter, its destination is tropical Africa.
Flycatchers – spotted and pied – make protracted stopovers in the city’s parks, breaking up the long haul south. The warm weather ensures plenty of insects so they can fatten up for the tough journey ahead: the sea followed by a desert that’s expanding year by year. Slim, sprightly birds, you notice them as they repeatedly launch themselves to scoop up prey and return to the same perch.
In the woods, firecrests are back, travelling with the tit flocks, always in the lowest branches, and last to move on. There was lots to eat in this holm oak infested with gall midge larvae.