Girona is a Great Town
Parc de la Devesa and Riu Ter
Girona also had some pretty good birding. It was better than the city birding in Barcelona. From our airbnb, it was a short walk across the Eiffel bridge to Parc de la Devesa. This big park was full of birds. There’s a garden area in the southeast corner with a variety of bushes and trees. There was good action here, including a pair of lifer Eurasian Jackdaws and some Eurasian Tree Sparrows. As in Barcelona, Monk Parakeets and Rose-ringed Parakeets were around, as well.
The River Ter runs along the northern edge of the park. Along the banks is some nice riparian habitat that was super productive each time I walked by. Loudly calling from the riverside bushes were a couple of Cetti’s Warblers and Eurasian Wren. A small flock of Common Waxbills flushed some reeds. Perched in a tree above the river were some Great Cormorants, a bird I’ve failed to see in a decade of summer visits to Maine. Moving around the tall trees were some barky and subtly brilliant Eurasian Jays. A few shorebirds were in a sandbar in the middle of the river: Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, and Green Sandpiper.
Just under the bridge that takes you from the park to a convention center called Fontajau is a mini-waterfall with a jumble of boulders. There were two different wagtails here – the more common White Wagtail and a less common (and somewhat confusingly named) Gray Wagtail (it’s yellow underparts really stand out). A Little Egret stood on an exposed. Up river I saw a couple of Black-winged Stilts. Off in the distance a Common Kingfisher flew low across the river. A Purple Heron flew by overhead. The north end of the bridge offers good looks into a canopy of trees, which were buzzing with activity.
There is a vast open area on the north side of the River Ter with trails meandering through it. One morning I briefly wandered around. I added a trio of Willow Warblers and a lifer Common Redstart in this area. I would have liked to spend a little more time here, but I was creeping further from home and needed to get back to the family.
John Lennon Gardens
Back behind the Girona Cathedral are a set of hilly gardens that were a delight to explore. There were cobblestone paths, crumbling stairs, bridges, plazas, and tall medieval stone walls. Especially for an American like me residing on the West Coast (“some of these buildings are over 20 years old”), the age of everything was a little flabbergasting. No matter which we you turn, you should eventually come upon an access point to the old city wall. You can walk atop it for over a mile and enjoy grand vistas of the city and distant Pyrenees mountains. On the slope of one of the hills is a quiet green space called Jardins de John Lennon. This was a great spot for birding and quiet contemplation. Bird calls came from every direction. In addition to the usual songbird suspects, I finally got my lifer Common Buzzard here (there were surprisingly few hawks in the skies during our visit). My only look at a Great Spotted Woodpecker happened here.
I’m so glad we spent a few days in Girona. It’s a wonderful city, and gave us the old European experience we were hoping to get (and I haven’t even mentioned our visit to the 1st century B.C. Greco-Roman seaside ruin of Empuries a half an hour away). In my next post, I’ll detail a couple of day trips we took nearby (Empuries, and a hike into the crater of a volcano). Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to drive up high into the Pyrenees, where the legendary Lammergeier resides. But like I always say – that’s gives us a reason to go back.