Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter in Spain - Day 1

We decided to start our holiday a little before Easter itself and booked to fly with Ryanair from Stansted direct to Barcelona, with a connecting flight with Clickair to Seville and a return flight with Ryanair. Only after booking did I realise that the weight limit for Ryanair is 15kg, no matter how many bags you check – I’d assumed 15kg for each bag, but no! Based on our typical luggage for a normal holiday we’d need to pay another 150quid, per leg of the holiday to shift our luggage!!! We therefore watched the updates from Ryanair with keen interest and were delighted when first one then the other leg we’d booked with them were moved two days allowing us to cancel the flights with a 100% refund :) We booked an equivalent priced flight with Iberia, routing via Madrid, which would cost us some more time but a lot less hassle and expense.

We set off from Heathrow only an hour late at 10:30, and got to Madrid with plenty of time for our connection. Madrid airport is appallingly signed with almost no information available to the public. We figured out we were in the wrong section of the airport on the basis we couldn’t see out flight to Barcelona so got on the transit train to the other main hub area, then navigated various lifts and escalators until we found we were in the right terminal and then used the screens there to locate the rough area we should head too. I admit it’s even worse than Dubai Terminal 3! Oh and the place stinks of cigarette smoke too, it’s amazing how many Spaniards still smoke, quite shocking actually.

Our plane to Barcelona arrived a little late, whilst the gate staff were busy ticketing the standby passengers. Then they were informed a seat had a technical fault… so one hour later we were still queuing, and on the basis we had some birding planned on arrival at Barcelona we were understandably getting twitchy! Eventually they fixed said seat and we were all squeezed in to the Iberia flight (less leg room than Ryanair or Easyjet but the same service plan – though they’re not charging for toilet use yet it would seem) and eventually we landed at Barcelona, to start our holiday, around 16:30. We were met at Barcelona Airport by Stephen, who runs his own bird guide business, see http://www.catalanbirdtours.com/.

Unfortunately the lateness of the hour with the revised flight timetable meant it was already too late to visit the local Llobregat reserve so we headed for a rock outcrop in the Garraf region south of Barcelona on the coast:














The day was very pleasantly sunny and though the light was fading with the sun setting behind the rocks, we still got to watch and enjoy Blue Rock Thrush:




















as well as spotting a Peregrine Falcon hunting over the rocks.

We hung around for around twenty minutes watching the Blue Rock Thrushes before heading on to Stephen’s house, with the downstairs self-catering flat which we had for the duration, via the local Supermarket to buy provisions for the five dinners and breakfasts for our stay.

We added another new species in the garden, Crested Tit feeding on the feeders! Stephen advised us he also had nesting Serin, which we could hear but not see, something for tomorrow then. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the Easter weekend was atypically for a lot of rain and some storms. Fingers crossed then...

New Species for the day:

Blue Rock Thrush
Crested Tit

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