Strictly come raven dancing

Written by Lucy Brzoska

Written by Lucy Brzoska

Trona means pulpit in Catalan. But the great rock bearing this name that thrusts out of the Cingles de Berti feels more like a throne. You can sit up there on great stone slabs and survey the land: the misty Valles plain stretching south towards Barcelona, the rounded peaks of Montseny across the Congost valley to the east, and the Pyrenees to the north. In winter there are Crag martins weaving around, ganging together to chase off a buzzard. Mediterranean heather is in mid-flower, droning with bees. The day I climbed up there I found ravens courting.

Ravens are a constant presence on the Cingles. At the end of the day, they sometimes assemble near the mobile mast above Aiguafreda, where they swirl round and round. On La Trona I watched a single pair: perhaps they were setting up a nest somewhere. I’d been listening to their calls as I climbed up, including bill-knocking and a low but resonant guttural sound. (Listen to a wide range of raven calls here.)

Though very large (bigger than buzzards), they are incredibly graceful birds in flight. They were completely focused on each other, moving in perfect synchrony, sometimes touching. They plummeted down and rose up again, and spun like barrels. I watched until they were swallowed up by the mist rolling from across the flat fields.



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.


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.


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.