Audouin’s in action

12 01 2013

“Action expresses priorities.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Another warm afternoon in Barcelona, still waiting for the cold front promised for tomorrow. If I have to wait, I prefer to do it birding instead of studying (sorry mum!) but Barcelona area doesn’t offer many options nowadays. There are some ferruginous ducks and a great northern diver at Llobregat Delta, but the reserve has an strict timetable, so you have to plan your visit. The surrounding area has also some interest, but there you usually get distant views of the birds and today I woke up with close views of nice birds in mind.

I finally chase Diagonal Mar Park. I have a love-hate relationship with that place since there I’ve learned a lot of things about gulls but in the other hand I’ve never seen anything really interesting. Actually, it’s a urban park in the middle of Barcelona, so you can’t expect to find a Thayer’s gull, no matter how many interesting articles had you read. However, today there were 6 different species of gull (the typical Yellow-legged, Lesser black-backed, Black-headed and Mediterranean plus a nice adult Audouin’s and a 2nd winter Common, a scarce wintering species here).

The first I look at was if there were some ringed black-headed gulls. There were 2, NB13 and NB83, both of them local birds ringed by ICO in the nearby zoological park.


Then, I took some pictures of the Common gull. I already saw that bird in the park 10 days ago and Xavi had seen it even before (28.XII) at Besòs river. Apparently, there are 2 individuals wintering in Barcelona area this year: a 1st winter at Llobregat River (Raúl Bastida on 30.XII and 5.I) and this 2nd winter between Besòs River and Diagonal Mar Park.


The adult Audouin’s gull was quite active going from one place to another. It finally landed in the water and started to do Audouin’s gull’ things. The bird detected there was something similar to food in the bottom of the lake:


Then, it jumped to see “the thing” from above:


Put its body into an hydrodynamical shape:


And leap into the water:


It seemed to be fighting with something for a while:


But it finally emerged with a crappy branch:


The branch tasted quite different from the sardines the gull is used to, so it putted carefully back into the water:


And, just like me, stay doing nothing:



Never keep calm

7 01 2013

“Caress the detail, the divine detail.”

– Vladimir Nabokob

I am fed up with this stupid old slogan which is suspiciously popular those tumultuous days. Keep thinking instead of keep calm, and you would see how things get progressively better. This is not the best season for a birder in Catalonia but I try to alternate my self-pity with an incessant birding activity. If there’s nothing in the field, there are always some articles to read and sometimes it’s possible to check in the field the information read in the paper. I had read the post on Stephen Menzie’s blog the day after I went to Montserrat mountain, so I already had in mind the idea of looking at the age of the alpine accentores that I expected to see up in Sant Jeroni.

Prunella collaris 2

Prunella collaris 5

Prunella collaris

Prunella collaris 3

There were at least 6 of them feeding on crumbs around tourists, very approachable as always, what permits a good examintion of the plumage. Both Stephen and an article published in the Revista de Anillamiento (Spanish ringing journal) (Fernández Gil et al. 2007)  looked at the pattern of both the primary and the greater coverts to determine the age. The white in the tip has a different shape and color depending on the age, whereas the center of the feather is black in adults and greyish-brown in 1st winters. There’s no need to catch the birds since they are even too close to take a picture!
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To judge a ringing day, there is an equilibrium between the number of captures and the free time you get bored. Too many birds means you don’t have time enough to study them properly but too few means you are mentally sleeping all the day long. The winter here is actually boring, but that brings me the chance to study birds in detail.

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