Birder's Eye View

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Across the Pond

London is full of surprises. Just yesterday I was wondering when I'd ever have time to go birding, when little did I know that today I would find myself strolling through Hyde Park. Spontaneity is the name of the game here; at home I'm usually fairly organized and know what I'm doing from one day to the next, but here you kind of just throw a dart at a map and go.

As it were, today was one of the coldest days since I've been here. A few snow flurries here and there, but by midday it was just frigid and sunny out. I saw a bunch of the usual birds -- Pigeons, Magpies, and a Blackbird -- until we got closer to the lake, when I saw what looked like a woodpecker on a tree.

It was far away, but after snapping a few pictures, it was unmistakeable: a Green Woodpecker!
There were also tons of Black-headed Gulls, and some familiar North American waterbirds as well, including Canada Geese, Mallards and Moorhens.

Another fun lifer was the Great-crested Grebe. There were only a few of these in the pond, but they were very noticeable.

There were lots of these Red-crested Pochards as well, along with Tufted Ducks, Coots, and Northern Shovelers.

There were plenty of White-fronted Geese as well.

And FINALLY a European Starling in its native region! I've seen plenty of these back home, but it's far more fun to see them here in Europe where the belong.

Hyde Park has no shortage of birds, for sure. I also got to see my lifer Great Tit and Pied Wagtail there, too, unfortunately both of which were too quick and shy to allow for a photo. By then, I was also completely frozen and ready to get back into the warmer tube station and head home.

It was a wonderfully refreshing day though, and a nice escape from the bustling city for a few hours.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello from London!

It's been a while since I last posted so I figured I owe the blog a little update. This is day 9 of my excellent adventure in Europe and so far it has been completely mindblowing. I honestly haven't done any birding, because there is just too much else to see and do.

That's not to say I haven't found any new birds though! Although London in the middle of winter is definitely not the place to be if you're looking for wildlife, I've managed to add a few species to my "world list."

First bird I saw here was a pigeon in the train station. They're everywhere here. Second bird was a Magpie, third was a lifer Black-headed Gull at Trafalgar Square on my second day here. I've also since then seen a Pheasant, Herring Gulls, Carrion Crows, and a Wren.

I guess I've been spoiled growing up in Florida, but it's definitely a lot harder to find and identify birds around here. In the coming months, I'll be traveling outside of the city more, so hopefully I'll get to see more species.

Besides the birding (or lack thereof) my experiences here have been nothing short of life-changing so far. I've never lived in a big city before nor traveled on my own, and now both of these things have become the rhythm of my life. And it's wonderful; every day holds something new.

Yesterday on my birthday I got to see snow for the first time. On Saturday I traveled with a couple students to Dover to explore the castle and see the white cliffs. And almost every afternoon after class is spent exploring some corner of the city.

I've said it many time before, but I'm going to say it again: life is amazing!

Cheers, and happy birding!

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