Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adventures in the United Kingdom - the Recap Part 2 - Birding the Thames, Alexandria Gardens, Bath Island

My first full day in England dawned overcast. I was undaunted. This was to be my only full day where I had full freedom of schedule. I had a full plan, but complete flexibility to diverge for birds or whatever photographic subject caught my eye. My loose plan was to wander through town to the river Thames, then work my way to Windsor Castle during the middle of the day, and spend the afternoon heading back into the Windsor Great Park.

The overcast skies were less than ideal, but the ducks and swans were cooperative and I was able to find a great variety of Mallard mutts.

I was amazed at the variety shown in what were all more or less Mallards. Centuries of domestication, escape, and interbreeding make finding a 'true' Mallard a bit of a chore.

It wasn't all ducks though, a Grey Heron was looking for breakfast just on the far side of the foot of Bath Island. Bath Island was so named as in years past it was removed from the shore by the channel where the local residents were encouraged to bathe.

I made my way onto the island, which is now a pleasant park where vacationers who are riding the Thames in canal boats can tie up. Here I found Blue Tits,

and Ring-necked Parakeets.

I walked the length of the small island, passing beneath the brick arches of the oldest wrought iron suspension bridge still in use. At the foot of the island I had a look back towards the riverfront area of Windsor, including the castle, and Christopher Wren's house. Wren was the architect who designed many of London's landmark buildings after the Great Fire, including St. Paul's. His house is left of center, on the waterline. It is just to the right of the large tree at the bend of the far bank. Now it houses a cafe. Just another sign of living amid history in England.

I walked back along the island, gradually following my feet uphill, towards the castle. On my way I was visited by this posing European Robin. So different from our American Robin, a thrush, but still immediately recognizable as welcome bird in garden and park.

I followed the river to the base of the bluff where the castle dominated. I was not on a timetable, but was soon to find that I was exactly on time.

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