Springtime in Barcelona: Montjuïc

Written by Lucy Brzoska

Poo-pooPoo-poo. Perched on one of the tall Cyprus trees that surround Montjuïc cemetery, a hoopoe is calling, a peaceful sound of spring. But a rival takes objection, and a bout of fierce hissing ensues, as the aggressor tries to claim the territory.  Feathers are spread wide – the wings, tail and crest – making the birds appear double in size.

hoopoes dispute territory on Montjuic

A common visitor to Barcelona on spring migration is the Willow warbler.  This one was thoroughly grooming a blossoming Judas tree.

willow warbler pausing on migration in Montjuic Barcelona

A much rarer migrant is the Vagrant emperor dragonfly. Like the Willow warbler, it had paused on Montjuïc to refuel, after probably beginning its journey in North Africa.  It was hunting by the ponds in the Jardins de Mossen Cinto, a male recognisable by its blue saddle.

Vagrant emperor dragonfly - Anax ephippiger - on Montjuic Barcelona

The discrete presence of pheasants has been detected on Montjuïc this winter, but spring is making them bolder. This one was strutting in full view along the cemetery wall.

pheasant on Montjuic

A walk on the edge: spring

Written by Lucy Brzoska

On the outskirts of Aiguafreda, the Cingles de Bertí loom up rather dauntingly, but the climb isn’t as bad as it looks, especially if you begin early in the day.  At the side of the track was a Dappled White, keeping perfectly still.  Its green underwing markings are like the mottled pattern of lichen on a rock.

dappled-white-butterfly-underwing-euchloe-crameri

There’s a short cut near the top cutting through dark damp woods where shadows are purple with liverwort.  Then abruptly you emerge, like a prisoner out of an escape tunnel, and look wonderingly over the top of the precipice at the flat table land.

cingles-de-berti-above-aiguafreda

Spring comes at full tilt with a range of sounds not heard since the previous year.  A cuckoo starts up from the valley below.  I can hear a flock of bee eaters somewhere over the fields.  A nightingale sings, still rather tentatively, from deep inside the evergreen oaks.  Then a Tawny owl starts hooting in the bright morning,  disconcertingly, like a clock striking thirteen.

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