March 22, 2013: Oban, Scotland
March 26, 2013: Rare duck in Scotland!
March 26, 2013: Aberlady Bay, Scotland
March 30, 2013: Unique photo of a lifer (Paris, France)
March 31, 2013: Photos d'oiseaux de France (Paris, France)
April 2, 2013: Seabird die-off on the east coast of Scotland
Between March 27 and March 31, Laura and I were traveling in France. We were in Tours (about an hour southwest of Paris by train) for the first 3 days, and Paris for the last day and a half. Since this blog is about wildlife, I'll spare you all the "touristy" photos that Laura made me take ;)
While it wasn't exactly a birding trip, we did go on a hike or two throughout the trip. I wasn't really expecting any life birds on the trip but I still came away with 7!
The first was a relatively common species of tit which doesn't quite make it to the part of Scotland in which I had done most of my European birding - the Marsh Tit. I ended up seeing several of these Black-capped Chickadee look-a-likes, and by the end of the trip I had finally figured out their vocalizations. This certainly increased the number in which I located. All my photos are pretty poor, however.
Both species of "crests" were around as well. Firecrest (basically a Golden-crowned Kinglet) was a lifer, and several were seen in mixed migrant flocks with warblers and tits. This Goldcrest (basically a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with a yellow crown) decided to forage at eye level for a few minutes.
While walking around a lake in the southern part of Tours on our second full day, I was happy to see that some migrant swallows had returned. Most were Barn Swallows, but a few Common House Martins were mixed in. These also make it to Scotland but I have never been visiting during the late spring/summer months. I didn't even attempt photos of these quick fliers on the dark, overcast day! Basically, they looked like Tree Swallows with white rumps. Lifer #3!
Also in the area were some Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers (the second being life bird #4), and just like that I was introduced to the intricacies of European warbler identification. Chiffchaffs are brown with olive and white, while Willow Warblers are brown with white and olive. A little bit different than the reds, blues, greens, oranges, and yellows of new world warblers which I am used to ;)
Green Woodpecker, while not a life bird, was super fun to lay eyes on. My only previous experience was a single bird calling in Edinburgh last year so to see them in a number of locations was fantastic. They seemed to fill the niche of Northern Flickers back across the pond.
Lifer #5 was the Short-toed Treecreeper I photographed near La Tour Eiffel - check out the last post for a photo. I did take closer photos which were enough to separate it from the similar Eurasian Treecreeper but I'll leave them out since they are horrendous photos.
On our last morning in Paris, Laura and I walked for close to 3 hours in the Bois de Boulogne; a massive park just outside of the city. The weather was better than we had seen all trip (cold, as opposed to really cold) and the sun actually came out for about 10 minutes! I really hoped to find a Crested Tit, a species that has a tiny population in the highlands of Scotland, but is more common in continental Europe.
While we were walking, Laura excitedly pointed out a woodpecker drumming in a tree. It was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, lifer #6 of the trip. This species superficially resembles a Hairy Woodpecker with a white face and red undertail coverts, and it seems to fill a similar niche in Europe. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is a smaller version (very much like a Downy Woodpecker) that I probably heard at one point, but I could not track it down. Excuse the poor photo...
We continued on, checking every stand of conifers for Crested Tits. Eventually we noticed movement near the bottom of a rather large and bushy conifer. The movement was revealed to be a trio of Crested Tits, foraging deep within the tree! I was pretty happy to see this cool species. They were nearly impossible to photograph so here is the best that I could do.
|Crested Tit - Paris, France|
|Crested Tit - Paris, France|
And for good measure, here is one of the most common birds in Europe, a Great Tit. I do love tits.
We are now in Edinburgh for the remaining 5 days of my trip. I'll get the remaining photos taken before we went to France up on the blog in the upcoming days.