Tadorna ferruginea is a rather special bird. In Buddhism, it’s sacred. The species is also nocturnal.
I saw this specimen at the Farmoor reservoir near Oxford – that’s really unusual. It’s quite likely the bird has gone feral, because the main area ranges from south-east Europe to Asia. The European population is in decline, mainly because of hunting.
Psittacula krameriis also known as ring-necked parakeet, Kingston parakeet or Twickenham parakeet. The last two names signify that these birds not only live in tropical Africa and Asia, but also in London. I saw this one at Kew Gardens. It’s tricky to spot the birds among the foliage, but their calls can be heard even when the planes are flying over.
Thanks to two lovely Scottish ladies I spent a wonderful day in Bath. There’s so much to see and do that this was really just a taster. Foodwise, by the way, I can highly recommend Comptoir Libanais.
Bath is town full of art and a wide range of architecture. The most famous architectural style is Georgian, like the Circus. The city centre is a world heritage site.
Bath is also the only place in the UK with natural hot springs. It’s possible to go into one of the spas (which I didn’t), or to see how the old Romans did it (which I did). What I admired most at the baths in Bath, however, was a relic of Sulis Minerva, goddess of the hot springs.
My personal highlight was somewhat off the beaten track. Welcome to the Herschel house! Caroline and William Herschel were two astronomers who were famous for their telescopes with home-polished mirrors, and comet hunting. If you feel like walking in their footsteps, you can be a citizen scientist and help with one of the astronomy projects on the Zooniverse platform.
Emberiza schoeniclus is a bird I really like – the males are easy to identify and their song is simple but recognizable even for someone who has difficulties telling songs apart (like me). They need reedbeds to breed, so where there is a bit of proper wetland, there are the buntings. This one sang in the RSPB reserve in Otmoor earlier this year.
This Corvus corone was indulging in a meal of fish at Farmoor reservoir near Oxford. Carrion crows are highly intelligent and social birds. If you’d like to learn more about them and other corvids, you should read Esther Woolfson’s excellent book Corvus.
In Oxford, Milvus milvus is a common sight and has been for a few years, after a successful reintroduction scheme some decades ago. The situation throughout the Western Paleoarctic is rather mixed for the species, and overall not very bright.
London has so much to offer that some not so well-known places are more or less off the radar of tourists and even locals. The London Wetland Centre seems to be, and totally undeservedly, such a place.
We went there mid-May, and had a wonderful day out. The one and only drawback is that it is located under a Heathrow flightpath. Makes for good photo-ops though.
Of course, we went there for the wildlife, and there is plenty to be seen. You can find very common birds, and also some rarer ones. As always with wildlife, a bit of luck is involved.
The WWT is also involved in conservation work. They care for some local species, like sand martins.
The trust also supports conservation efforts from further afield. If you go on one of their tours (for free, and highly recommended), you’ll hear a lot about all the species and the WWT’s work with them.
It’s easy to get there: you can either walk along the Thames Path, or follow the instructions on their website.
It’s a very family friendly place, but if you prefer quiet and peace with the birds and the reeds, that can be found easily too.