A Weekend in Madrid


I’ve always wanted to watch the Real Madrid v Barcelona match and this year I was lucky enough to bag a couple of tickets for the game. I’ve been to Madrid before, but that was in the hot summer months, so I was looking forward to discovering what a winter break in the Spanish capital would be like. As the coronavirus is currently on the increase, it was interesting to note that the Spanish appeared comparatively relaxed, in contrast to the people on the plane from Doha, many of whom were wearing masks.

Petit Palace Carmen Hotel

I met one of my daughters who flew in from the UK. I booked the Petit Palace Carmen, located pretty centrally in Plaza del Carmen. The hotel itself is great. There is a restaurant serving food and drink outside. Unfortunately, there were renovations taking place to the adjacent building while we were there, so it was a bit noisy during the day. 


The location was ideal however, with the busy Peurta Del Sol close by. Madrid has an excellent Metro system, but by far my favourite way to see a city is on foot.

Parque Del Retiro

The weather was amazing on our first day, given the time of year. It was t-shirt time as we strolled through Parque Del Retiro.

It was Friday, so as the afternoon wore on, more and more people spilled out of their offices and work places so that soon the park was full of people skulling about on the boats, picnicking, or just ambling around like us.


The park includes the botanical gardens as well as the boating lake, and there are plenty of amazing statues to admire.

Cherry Blossoms Out in February

A big surprise was to see the blossoms of the cherry trees in full pink splendour. There were plenty of other early blossoming and flowering plants too, which made it feel like early spring.

Madrid is a city with many parks and we walked through several over the first two days. Some were ornate and well trodden, but there were other smaller ones too, like this one (opposite) which is located not far from the cable car station.

Unfortunately the wind was gusting a bit so the cable car wasn’t running, but as a compensation that meant that we were able to walk through little gems like this. 

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofia and Streets

 The last time I’d been in Madrid, we had concentrated on the Prado Museum. This is one of the largest art galleries in the world and houses some amazing works, including some of my favourite medieval painters Bosch and Breughel.

On this occasion we decided we would visit Guernica by Picasso which is housed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofia. As you probably know, Guernica is Picasso’s tribute to the town of that name which is bombed by the Nazis in the 1930s. At almost 4 metres by 8, it is a sobering and powerful visual tribute.

Parakeets and Storks

Okay so this was a surprise. I knew that London has Parakeets, but Madrid?

These are not the same Parakeet as London’s however, which are the Ring-Necked variety. Madrid’s Parakeets are Monk Parakeets, thought to be escaped pets originally from Argentina. They appear to be flourishing and  I was worried about the impact this non-native invader might have on the local birds. Once home, I learnt that Madrid has decided to wage war on them.


Later the same day, we saw a Stork sitting on top of a tall fir tree. I’m not clear if this was an escapee from the nearby zoo, but was a marvellous sight in any event.

A Walk Through Casa Del Campo

The Casa Del Campo is an enormous park on the Western fringe of the City. It’s a former royal hunting park, and spreads out over more than 80,000 square metres. 

There are paths and facilities such as a tennis centre, but the park also has wilder areas. We walked all the way across it to visit the zoo at the far end. It is a fantastic amenity for the city dwellers, and it was busy with cyclists, runners and walkers.

Templo de Debod

Another of Madrid’s park is Cuartel de la Montaña which although not the biggest home to the Templo Del Debod. The Templo was donated to Spain at the time of the construction of the Aswam Dam, and is a 2nd Century BC Egyptian temple. 

It was given to Spain because it was due to be flooded when the damn was made. It is normally surrounded by water, which would have made it an even more impressive sight.

Real Madrid v Barcelona

 The purpose of our visit was to watch the Real Madrid v Barcelona game, El Clásico as it is known. I purchased our tickets through footballticket.net which is a leading secondary sales ticketing company.

It was expensive, more than the face value, but this was for a game with Real Madrid and Barcelona neck and neck at the top of the table. I found the experience to be smooth, although there was a slight communication glitch with returning the tickets. This was easily solved with a phone call however.

Unlike in the UK, it seems there are few away supporters and so the stadium was just a wall of home supporting noise. The atmosphere was amazing and for the record Real won two nil.

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

25/09/2020 Birding, eBird, News

Whether you know Podiceps cristatus as Great Crested Grebe, Bahri, or Somormujo lavanco, your eBird experience can display bird names in your preferred language. With 9 new options, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology now offers bird common names in 78 languages and regional dialects – including 15 variations of Spanish and 6 for French!
Recent additions to common names include Arabic, Asturian, Azerbaijani, Catalan, Gallegan, and Slovak as well as two new regional versions of Spanish (Peru and Paraguay) and one additional version of French customized for French Guiana.  We also now have complete global namesets for German, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), and Turkish. Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Swedish have names for 30-90% of eBird’s taxonomy.
There are regional versions of English too, so you can report Great Northern Divers and Grey Partridges instead of Common Loons and Gray Partridges. See the full list of available languages and learn more about bird common names in eBird.
Setting your preferred language for common names
Select your preferred language for common names on the web in your eBird Preferences: https://ebird.org/prefs. These will apply to eBird.org, Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World. Within the eBird Mobile and Merlin Bird ID apps, set your common name preference under Settings and Account. Please note that settings for common names are separate from the language display on the mobile and web interfaces.
Become a volunteer translator
Volunteer translators provide these names and are critical to the success of eBird and other Cornell Lab projects. Many thanks to our network of partners around the world for making more common name options available!
Do you want to help us translate Cornell Lab projects? Please fill out this form: Join the eBird translators team.

House sparrow © Christoph Moning / Macaulay Library

A sparrow by any other name… 
To demonstrate the diversity of common names, here are 59 different options for Passer domesticus available in eBird, Merlin, the Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World:

Common name

دوري منزلي

Pardal común

Dam sərçəsi

Домашно врабче

Pardal comú

Chinese – Mandarin (traditional)

Chinese, Simple

Creole, Haiti
Mwano kay


vrabec domácí



English, Kenya
House Sparrow

English, United States
House Sparrow




Moineau domestique

Pardal común


דרור הבית

Házi veréb


Burung-gereja Rumah

Passera oltremontana



Mājas zvirbulis

Naminis žvirblis


Оронгийн бор шувуу



Portuguese, Brazil

Portuguese, Portugal

Vrabie de casă

Домовый воробей

Vrabac pokućar

vrabec domový

Domači vrabec

Gorrión común

Spanish, Argentina

Spanish, Chile

Spanish, Costa Rica
Gorrión Común

Spanish, Cuba

Spanish, Dominican Republic
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Ecuador
Gorrión Europeo

Spanish, Mexico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Panama
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Paraguay

Spanish, Peru
Gorrión Casero

Spanish, Puerto Rico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Spain
Gorrión común

Spanish, Uruguay

Spanish, Venezuela
Gorrión Común




Горобець хатній

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