Ah Europe, you gotta love a place where you can see tits every day and talk about them with a straight face! These little birds are everywhere. And so are their cousins--Blue Tits. Other tits, such as the Long-tailed Tits I saw this afternoon are less common, but not too hard to come up with.
Snapped a photo of this beauty yesterday in Hofgarten park in Düsseldorf. It's a Central Asian bird, and since this is Western Europe, it's just an escapee--not countable by most birding standards. But a beauty nonetheless. Düsseldorf is crawling with exotic birds--I see Rose-ringed Parakeets from India almost as often as the native House Sparrows. A pair of feral Ruddy Shelducks cruise up and down the Rhine near here, and I see Canada Goose and Egyptian Goose almost every day. On the other hand, and ironic I think, I have yet to see a European Starling here, while back in PA they are a dime a dozen.
Benrath Schloss, a big pink palace in southern Düsseldorf is a great spot, but maybe not the birdiest set of grounds in mid-April. Lots of Chiffchaffs singing, a Blackcap, and the ever-present tits. Did add Song Thrush to the trip list there, and enjoyed watching a Wren shaking its wings in defense of its territory, and the courtship display of the Great Tits. Otherwise, mostly a big reflecting pool--complete with Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, and Great Cormorant. There weren't any Tufted Ducks there today (there were over a dozen last week), so had to settle for a couple Canada Goose, an Egyptian Goose, and a Moorehen.
Spent a nice couple of hours walking out to the northernmost spit of sand in Denmark this afternoon with my kids. Lots of great birds around (King Eider, Common Eider, Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Northern Gannet, etc.). Also some great birding graffiti scrawled on the old German bunker fortification on the beach. Not everyday you get to see birding graffiti!
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Hasseler Forst, a local park and birding spot here in Düsseldorf. I was able to find about 35 species while playing around with my kids--including Middle Spotted Woodpecker (my new favorite woodpecker!). A series of lakes is nearby at Elbseen, which held lots of waterbirds including Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, and Eurasian Coot, as well as a Grey Heron rookery.
To get to Hassler Forst, take a bus to the Hassels Kirche stop, and take the road and path near the church back to the park. You first go over a highway crossing, and then in about a quarter mile you hit an area with conifers on both sides that is supposed to be good for Goldcrest and Firecrest (I only got the Goldcrest on my short visit).
Beyond the conifers is a train track, and take the path to the right through some oaks, where the Middle Spotted Woodpeckers are found. Also saw Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker here.
At the end of this path is a playground (for the kids), and you can take the path to the left to go under the train tracks to Elbseen. From there take the path to the right to get the best views of the lakes. About a half mile down this path is a viewing tower.
A great place to bird and I look forward to getting back there soon! Thanks to local birder Klaus Böhm for the directions!
So far just the usual backyard birds in Dusseldorf: Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jay, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, etc. Did see three Yellow-legged Gulls near the Rhine yesterday.
In Belgium, saw Fieldfare at the Battle of the Bulge memorial in Bastogne, as well as a Pheasant on the road, and my first Swallow (Barn Swallow) of the year at St. Anne Chateau. Also Rose-ringed Parakeets at the royal palace in Brussels.
Once I figure out the bus system, should be able to start getting more birds soon.
eBird now has a new feature where you can see how you rank. I'm currently ranked #8 among all eBird users for species reported in North America (the ABA checklist area). Of course, that standing is only because the more senior top listers in the country aren't using eBird yet. I'd love to see my standing drop if more people were reporting their lists on eBird!