Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Europe Part 3 - Barcelona & Sitges, Spain; Eastern Pyrenees, France

Common Nightingale
Following our stay in Fitou (following post) we headed south across the Spanish border to the Mediterranean seaside resort town of Sitges.

 I last visited this place 30 years ago and it has lost none of its bustling charm and vigour. Sitges is not a car-friendly town so we forked out 80 euro for a carpark a short distance from our hotel.

The gardens were full of Common Wood-Pigeon and the waterfront and narrow streets were full of colourful folk and excellent outdoor dining venues.


Common Wood-Pigeon
We took the train for a day trip to Barcelona, impressed by the city's general demeanour and appearance as much as by the Gaudi masterpieces of Sagrada Familia (the cathedral) and La Perdrera. Here we sensibly took the tourist buses around the city with their useful audio guides.

Gaudi Cathedral Barcelona

Gaudi Cathedral Barcelona
Barcelona La Perdrera
We headed north back to Fitou for another stay. A visit to the Leucate Lighthouse was rewarded by my first lifer of the trip - a single Balearic Shearwater, along with Short-beaked Common Dolphin and Slender-billed Gull offshore. We had been fortunate to have superb balmy weather for the first two weeks of the trip but the following couple of days, including this one, were to be uncomfortably windy.

Catching up with Alan McBride
In Fitou it was nice to reconnect with a friend of 40 years, Alan McBride, who lives in southern France these days.

Chateau Peyrepertuse

Chateau Peyrepertuse
Following a suggestion from Alan we visited the Chateau Peyrepertuse in the eastern Pyrenees, some 70km west of Fitou. This spectacular 1000-year-old fortress sits atop an imposing cliff face high in the mountains.


East Pyrenees
Few birds were about in the cold, windy conditions but a Chaffinch singing on the rocks seemed unperturbed.

Chateau de Queribus

Tautavel Gorge
We checked out the Chateau De Queribus and the beautiful Tautavel gorge on our return to Fitou.

Common Nightingale
Common Nightingale was remarkably numerous at the gorge, which was filled with its spirited song.

European Serin
European Serin was also common.

Spotted Flycatcher 
A Spotted Flycatcher was unusually obliging. Other birds seen included Northern Raven, Tawny Pipit and Woodchat Shrike.

Black Satyr - Pic Alan McBride
The common butterfly in the region was identified by Alan as Black Satyr.

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