A brief European Jaunt

Subject: A brief European Jaunt
From: "Tim Bawden" <>
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2003 06:12:39 +0000
Hi all

Firstly I would like to thank all those people who replied to my query on the 
Elanus kite near Barcelona. Elanus caeruleus/Black-winged Kite is found in 
Spain but it would seem to be uncommon and unlikely in that region and while I 
am fairly certain what I saw it will always be one of those question marks.

Anyway, the trip was 4 weeks mostly through Germany, Switzerland and France and 
strictly non-birding according to the powers that be (the girlfriend) but I was 
cunning and binoculars and a field guide happened to fall into my backpack 
whilst packing. Ended up identifying about 85 species (Which didnt quite match 
the number of beers I drank) with about half that amount again which I didn't 
have the skill, experience or time to narrow down exactly. I had real problems 
with the little brown birds such as warblers and the like... but nothing knew 
for me there ;-) Travelled around by train which is a frustration in itself as 
I saw tantalising glimpses of many birds, particularly raptors... but not the 
time to examine them... it would have been tempting to pull the emergency brake 
a few times but I dont think the driver would have appreciated that. However 
from the train i did get good views of both of the European storks white and 
black, which were probably the best birds of the trip.

So most of the birds were seen in the parks and gardens in various cities, 
chateaux and castles and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety that often 
appeared in the most unlikely places. I guess the birds in Europe have had a 
lot longer to get used to the ways fo civilization. The only dedicated birding 
I was able to do was in the mountains in Switzerland at St Moritz where we 
stayed a few daysand i was able to go wandering through the forests and 
mountains to my hearts content. Ran into a very nice Englishman there who tried 
to show me how to tell the difference between Marsh and Willow Tits. Probably 
the highlight though was going up in a gondola and ticking Alpine Chough and 
Snow Finch while drinking beer at over 3000 meters.

The field guide I took was the Pocket guide to the Birds of Britain and 
North-west Europe by Kightley, Madge and Nurney which was adequate for most of 
the areas I went. Probably its best feature are the text highlights of certain 
common behaviours and field marks which was very useful for a newbie to the 
area like myself.

Favorite Birds for the trip: Kingfishers in the Loire Valley and Nutcrackers in 
St Moritz

Sorry to ramble on

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