London Overview

I’ll start the first of several posts on our recent trip to London, England, with a short overview. Then over the next few weeks I’ll mix shorter blogs on London in with what is happening locally. I’ll try to keep the posts short since I know personally I’d rather see something broken down into smaller digestible junks then long encompassing ones.

Results of the Guesses

I’d like to think everyone who guessed in the comment section from the previous post that a TUFTED DUCK was my 500th life bird. And Mike played along nicely and emailed me directly since he already knew the location. Now about the location.

Greg guessed Hyde Park in London which is correct. Steve went even further and guessed the Serpentine, which I suppose is accurate. But according to the map it is “The Long Water”. I’m not nitpicking and I only bring it up because there seems to be several names for areas that “run” together in London. Be it Kensington Gardens running into Hyde Park or streets which suddenly change named and are called something else.

Either way, thanks to everyone for playing along.

Hyde Park
The small X is where I saw the Tufted Duck. Notice how The Long Water and The Serpentine are the same body of water but have different names for the two areas. Here is the full explanation on Wikipedia. The circled X is the location of the hotel which was a 15 minute walk to Hyde Park.

Why London?

My wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in March. We had always wanted to go to London. So that was that. We booked the trip back in November to get a good rate and unwittingly made a very good choice on both the hotel and its location. We were literally one minute from the Gloucester Road Underground Station and could be anywhere in the city in 10-15 minutes.

Birding

As with most of my trips this was not a “birding” trip. So I only planned a day of birding. However it ended up being a bit more since we did some birding the first day by walking Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and St. James Park later in the week.

The plan for birding was to bird Hyde Park one morning and the new London Wetland Centre the rest of the same day. And the plan worked out great.

London
The basic area we covered in London. 1 – Hotel 2 – Hyde Park for birding 3 – Theatre District, Museums, etc. 4 – London Wetlands Area for Birding. The purple line is to show how easy it was to get to Wetlands area by public transportation.

Since migration was just starting I thought by covering those two areas I could probably see most of the resident local birds. The only way I could add another 20 or so species was a trip to the Norfolk Coast. To do it right would have consumed two days which meant it was out of the question.

That’s the basics of the trip. Going forward I’ll try not to bore you with too many details.

200-500

I’m not sure anyone is interested in my personal milestones but I always like reading about other peoples. So here are a couple of mine.

This is my 200th blog. For the special occasion I was going to write a few thoughts on the state of birding. Nothing deep or mind altering, and probably not original. Just some observations of mine.

I started what was to be the 200th blog last Friday night/Saturday morning at 38,000 feet over the Atlantic. I didn’t get it completed with the attempt to sleep on the plane or the ensuing next day’s Jet Lag. That post will just have to be at a later date.

As you can guess I’m somewhere outside of the US. Not anything special but kind of fun is that I saw my 500th species yesterday. It was on a non-birding stroll with my wife at a public park.

Here is lucky 500.

TUDU

Since I don’t have time to write a full blog I’ll let you guess the species. It isn’t hard and it isn’t a RING-NECKED DUCK. Mike please don’t answer in the comment section since you know where I’m located. And no there isn’t a prize except the satisfaction that you know this rare visitor to North America.

If you don’t know or haven’t guessed the species in the photo or where I’m located, let me tell you it has to do with me blowing one question which kept me off the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” I briefly reference about the experience here. The only question I missed was about putting 4 houses of this county’s royalty in the order they held the throne. The above duck was seen on one of their palace’s ponds.

As we toured the palace’s grounds and a few other historical sites where we kept seeing the names of the different houses of royalty, we couldn’t get the game show experience out of our heads.

I’ll post tomorrow with the answer and a few more details of the trip.

 

The Finish of the Solid Saturday

I need to catch up on a few things.

First the rest of the Solid Saturday that I posted about earlier in March. The day never cleared up until after I got home. So it was another day of taking photos with a cloudy background. Maybe next time it will be clear.

After leaving Franklin HS I headed to Atterbury. First I stopped by the GREAT BLUE HERON Rookery just west of the High School on Young’s Creek. I bring it up because soon I’m going to blog on the Johnson County’s Rookeries I know.

Heron Rookery JC
The Great Blue Heron Rookery just west of Franklin. This one is a little closer to the road than the one south of town. 12 nests? 3/19/16

I then spent the rest of the day in the greater Atterbury FWA area. The bulk of the afternoon was spent walking the north end of Atterbury. Where I saw the SWAMP SPARROW.

First though was a stop at Driftwood were there wasn’t much happening except TREE SWALLOWS feeding.

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I liked the reflection on the water from the Tree Swallow in this photo. Driftwood SFA 3/19/16

Then on to the hike at Atterbury. The area always holds large numbers of EASTERN TOWHEES with over 20 seen or heard on the day.

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Though the area holds many Eastern Towhees, they weren’t coming out for photos.  I’m still hoping to get a photo of a towhee in the sun. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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Even though there were numerous species, they were all hunkered down in the bushes in the cold 30’sF temperatures and cold north wind. This Field Sparrow was a perfect example of how the birds jumped up , checked me out, and then right back down to the brush. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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But this Northern Flicker didn’t let the weather bother him. I’m thinking the Carolina Wren might want to watch out. The Flicker is quickly becoming my “new” favorite local bird. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16

I ended the day by watching a lone PIED-BILLED GREBE on the pond that my hike had circled.

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A good profile view showing the much thicker bill of the Pied-billed Grebe versus other smaller billed grebes. And the distinctive white rump. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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As can be seen by the lack of ripples on the water, the wind finally died down when I was getting ready to leave. And the grebe was left to itself on this peaceful day. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16