Confinement time can be birdwatching time!

The virus SARS-CoV-2, causing the disease known as COVID-19, has extended worldwide and profoundly changed the way many of us live our lives and carry out our work. In these difficult times perhaps we cannot enjoy nature in the way we would wish, but we can take advantage of the birds we have close to hand. From our windows, terraces and gardens there are a lot to see!


Josep del Hoyo spotted an Eurasian Sparrowhawk perched on a fig tree in the Lynx garden. It’s not the first time the species has visited the garden but neither is it a common sight. Eurasian Sparrowhawk females are up to 25% larger than males, one of the greatest size differences between male and female of any bird species. Once persecuted by landowners and their gamekeepers as a predator, the Eurasian Sparrowhawk has survived and is to be celebrated as an infrequent but welcome visitor.


José Luis Copete heard a group of Greater Flamingos flying over Gràcia, in Barcelona’s city centre, and a few days before that a flock of Greylag Geese. In both cases, the flocks call at night, and he heard them because he had problems sleeping (you can’t help hearing all of the night’s sounds when you are trying to get to sleep!). It is rather unusual for either of these species to be detected overflying the big city close to buildings, but these birds fly north at night.
After these two unusual records, on the morning of April 6th, from his balcony he saw a Short-toed Snake-eagle above the hills surrounding the city, this time using his scope. José Luis’s balcony gets direct sun from 9am to 11am, and it’s during this time that he takes a short break from work to check the hills about 1 km away with his scope. The eagle was on active migration. More surprises are probably awaiting him in April! As an aside, while he was checking with the scope, a girl on the balcony opposite his was intrigued, and asked him what he was up to. They hadn’t known each other before the COVID-19 crisis, but sharing in the clapping tributes every evening at 8pm to honour the herculean efforts of health workers broke the ice and now they are quite friendly. The scope episode was the start of a long chat about birding, birds in the city, and nature in general…


Ferran Gil has been observing a pair of Eurasian Collared Dove raising a juvenile and protecting it from a harassing Eurasian Magpie. As he lives in Sant Boi, he’s close to the Llobregat river, where Green Woodpeckers and Hoopoes are regularly seen, but, as he explains, so far he hasn’t spotted any from his window! In his opinion, Common Hoopoes are one of the most beautiful birds in Catalonia.


Arnau Bonan, who lives on the coast north of Barcelona, observed Balearic Shearwaters and Northern Gannets feeding on tuna banks. Now is a good moment to look for birds in the Mediterranean Sea and it is very exciting to watch the Arctic Jaeger and Great Skua stealing fish from Sandwich Terns! His two daughters prefer using the telescope to watch the European Serins singing from a prominent perch or the White Wagtails walking on the rooftops…


Ana Conesa, located in Poble Sec, Barcelona, had the luck of seeing a Peregrine Falcon! There are a few pairs nesting in Barcelona permanently, and one is located in the temple of the famous Sagrada Familia, as you can see in the following video.
Ana is not a true birder (yet!), but while she works at her desk by the window she can’t help but notice when something interesting flies by (which excludes the common pigeons and gulls). That’s how she discovered that a falcon could be her neighbour, which made her interest in birds grow a little bit more.


Elisa Badia lives in the suburb of Sant Cugat and she’s becoming an expert on European Robins, Eurasian Blackbirds, Great Tits and Eurasian Magpies.
Elisa has a nice garden, where she throws some great barbecues, and she also watches birds there from time to time. With the quiet of the quarantine, she has observed more behaviours in these garden species, notably the Blackbird. Spending more time watching thrushes, she has seen how the males sing, while at the same time staying alert to the intrusions of neighbouring males, and how aggressive they can be towards the unwelcome invaders.


We hope everyone is well. If you are confined at home, try to stay active (even if just by looking for birds out the window!) and stay positive.

Please keep safe and keep in touch!!


One thought on “Confinement time can be birdwatching time!

  1. Prof. Ticky Forbes says:

    Intriguing how the urge to “bird” comes through no matter where you are if you are part of the world’s population that enjoys these feathered marvels. When our initial three week lockdown in South Africa was announced in late March my wife, who is the chairperson of Bird Life Port Natal in Durban, South Africa and had over the past year overseen our club membership rise to over 500, wondered what we could do now that our members would not be able to attend indoor meetings or local birding walks. So we set up the lockdown challenge – how many species could you identify from your Lockdown Patch – could be seen, heard or in flight. To date we have had 54 contributors/participants/competitors who have identified 220 species and submitted photographs of 210 species to the club’s Facebook site. Added photographs have to be of species not previously present on the photographic wall. We anticipate providing prizes after the lockdown is concluded although that period has now been extended for a further two weeks to the end of April. Species recorded include Purple Crested turaco, Crowned eagle, Long crested eagle, Peregrine and Lanner falcons, Black sparrow hawk, Little sparrow hawk, African goshawk and Pink backed pelican.

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