Tag Archives: birds in spain

King of the Pool House Roof

Unlike the UK where sparrows are sadly an increasingly rare sighting, here we live side-by-side with Spanish sparrows. In truth, I think we live in their territory not they in ours. The pool house roof [below] definitely belongs to them.They are relentlessly cheerful birds which, if you are not careful, you can bestow with human emotions:-the pool house roof 7-8-13Curiosity – when they look at you with their head tipped to one side;
Hunger – hopping towards you, hopping from one foot to another, watching you eat, waiting for tibits;
Anger – face-to-face shouting battles, Spanish style mano a mano [a bullfighting term which literally means one bullfighter against the other] on the roof of our little pool house;
Protection of home – patrolling roof of said pool house where nests are hidden in the tiles;
Domination – keeping watch at the pinnacle of the pool house roof, chattering loudly at challengers;
Sexual flirtation and predation – males hopping towards a female who lands on the roof, stalking her from tile to tile, and finally jumping on top when she is looking the other way. spanish sparrow - photo birdingbytrain.com 14-8-13Thanks to Marcel Gil Velasco for this great pic. Read his blog at http://birdingbytrain.wordpress.com/
5 to remember
raro/a – rare
el territorio – territory
implacablemente – relentlessly
jovial – cheerful
la curiosidad – curiosity

The sound of… an oriole in the plum tree*

* with apologies to Chris Stewart
Our terrace hangs on the edge of the hillside, near to us are three fruit trees – one plum, two fig – and directly in front is a huge spreading walnut tree. The local bird population flits from one to another, the sparrows migrate to the trees in two groups, one from their nesting spot behind the solar placas on the kitchen roof, the second group from the roof of the pool house. The density of this traffic increases when the fruit is ripe. At the moment, the big attraction is the plums slowly ripening from green to mellow yellow.

It is difficult to spot a shy golden oriole, despite the male being bright yellow and black. Pretty standout, you would think, but not amongst the shadows of the green and yellow leaves. Ideal camouflage. He and his green wife [she looks rather like a green woodpecker] simply merge with the leaves. Last night they were in the fig tree, doubtless enjoying a feast of the last of this crop of figs out of our reach. So we sat back and enjoyed their fluting calls.
5 to remember
la oropéndola – golden oriole
la ladera – hillside
desplegando/a – spreading
local – local
la población – population

The fluffiest Little Owl

A treat this morning, up early and driving the deserted roads high in the hills, we spot a little owl. So small it is almost toy-like, a round ball of fluff, probably fluffed up to keep warm. We have seen them before on early morning starts, generally spotted sitting on a post, a short squat silhouette in the dawn light. Each time I see one I am surprised how small they are, only 8-9in. It is resident here and is the owl we most commonly see. We often hear tawny owls calling at night around the house, sometimes two, rivals, marking out their respective territories.

[photo: Mark Hancox]

[photo: Mark Hancox]

5 to remember
temprano/a – early
el búho – owl
el juguete – toy
la pelusa – fluff
la silueta – silhouette

It started with a peregrine

The signs were good from the start. As I stood at the kitchen window, waiting for the kettle boil, I saw a peregrine falcon soar over the roof. They are resident here, though not often seen. A quick check in the bird book confirmed it – closely-barred white underside with yellow feet, yellow bill and eyes. Quite distinctive.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

In the afternoon, I saw a greenfinch. A first for me. A finchy beak, green back and flashes of yellow on the tail and flight feathers. Very pretty. Then to cap it all, D saw a female oriole. A new arrival. At first we confused these with green woodpeckers although the oriole doesn’t have the yellow bottom of the woodpecker. It’s easier to be sure when you see a pair of orioles flying together, the yellow male and the green female. But this was definitely an oriole, identifiable by its song which the bird book describes as wee-dl-eyo.
5 to remember
la tetera – kettle
la cocina – kitchen
el halcón – falcon
el carpintero – woodpecker
el pinzón – finch


A first today. While we were outside gardening – as we don’t have a garden but a hillside, it would be more specific to call this task ‘pulling up 3ft tall weeds’ – a duck flew up the valley, following the course of the river.

[photo: grahamowengallery.com]

[photo: grahamowengallery.com]

D said it was a mallard, the dark green head is quite distinctive. It’s a very heavy bird, at first glance it looked like a goose however according to our bird book, there are eight types of duck in Spain but no geese.  Odd that it was on its own though.
5 to remember
el pato – duck
el pato real – mallard duck
el tipo – type
el ganso – goose
el libro – book

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Duckspotting, a first today: mallard #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-dA