Monday, October 24, 2011

DaveA's International Adventure with some Birding Thrown In - Number's Summary

I am a huge fan of international travel. Travel in general really, but due to the financial and time constraints that are real life, international travel is always a special opportunity, and one that I am sure readers will find, gets me firing on all cylinders. For those who don't know, I am the proud son of a naturalized US Citizen, my Dad, who grew up in Loughborough, England. As such, I began my international travels at the ripe age of 2, on a visit to meet the family. Since that early trip my visits have been too far between, but perhaps due to their rarity they have forged strong memories. The places and faces of my family's England are certainly never far out of mind. So perhaps it was fitting, that three years after beginning to document my odd combination of birds, photos, and the rest of my wanderings in the natural world that I should expand the scope of my perspective back to a foreign land that is at the same time so familiar to me.

For those whose eyes are already glazed over, browse on to any more entertaining sites, I recommend Top Gear for any Yanks that aren't familiar with it, or Nature Photographers for a quick juicy photo fix. The pretty pictures are likely to follow at a snails pace - recall that I still have posts from Florida, (May), and Grand Junction, (later May), and New Orleans, (August) in the works, and now many thousands of photos to work through so they will be coming - in their own good time.

Disclaimer aside, if anyone is still reading... this post is primarily wordy, a bit of background on my diverse interests that make traveling a holistic experience, and then the stats on the birds and some impressions that I had specific to birding. My scholastic background is history. Being such, for much of the trip I had a recurring Simpson's quote in my head - "everything here is something", - Marge Simpson. After checking it, I do recall now that it was in the Rio episode, but it completely fits with the amazing way that history permeates all aspects of life in Europe. There will be more to follow on some of the amazing sights I had the chance to see, but those along with family, scenery, food and drink, art, and just generally observing the flow and currents of life in the UK would have left me feeling hopelessly cheated had I dedicated my time and focus to birds alone. For some, birding is passion enough, and focused pursuit of all the unusual species the island has to offer would be reason enough to travel and return. For me though, I took the birds that came, and didn't sweat those that I didn't see. In this visit I barely reached coasts - viewing the Irish Sea for my first time from the car in a gale - a huge no-no for a birding visit, but perfectly fine for my style of travel. I wouldn't have traded all the great memories I made, and the lure of future visits to coastal regions keeps me thinking of the next trip.

So, all that being what it was, I toured, and watched, and took opportunities to place myself where birds may come my way - and for no guides or experience - I had a great time and really enjoyed the species I found. Here's the list, a few familiar names, and a few surprises:

*I see that a few of my checklists somehow didn't make their way into ebird, so there may be an update to species list and totals. I know for one House Sparrow is missing, but that may be it.

Of course many of these will be featured in posts to come, but a few quick impressions and highlights. Least expected bird that I saw in good numbers, Ring-necked Parakeet. Bird that I saw in surprising abundance, Common Pheasant. My first bird outside the US, Common Magpie. Common species that will make you think you have six different species, only to find they are all variations of the same - Mallard. Cool birds I wish I had had better looks at - Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Mandarin Duck.

"My Ebird" as it stands now (subject to updates):

Just as I was wrapping this post up, I checked back to my post from last year on the 20th, it is good to know that some of the ideas I found reinforced in my travels this year are the same that were worthy of note last year as well. I certainly hope that they remain.

2011 Count: 256
Lifetime: 325

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