Skip to main content

Good morning, all.  I just returned from playing annoying American in Europe, lugging a grossly over-packed suitcase through train stations and over cobblestone streets, speaking tortured phrases to patient locals (my wife swears she heard me ask "Parlez-vous Inglés?" in Strasbourg), and gawking at mundane sights like castles and chaffinches as though they were from outer space.  Being the latest installment of the Dawn Chorus birding series, this diary will focus on the finches.


First, some housekeeping. While our normal host is taking a break, hosting duties have been left mostly in the capable hands of juliewolf and Kestrel.  However, this week we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel and letting a dilettante through the gates.  If you would like to prevent this in the future, then please volunteer for a slot. "Julie/Open" means that Julie is available if necessary, but would rather have you fill in.  Please respond to the tip jar if you want to volunteer and I will update as I can.  Dawn Chorus is normally posted on Sunday mornings, 9am EST / 6am PAC.  Please plan to post on or near this time if you volunteer for a slot.  The current schedule is:


       * Jun 13: Kestrel
       * Jun 20: Lineatus
       * Jun 27: Julie/Open
       * Jul 4: Julie
       * Jul 11: Kestrel
       * Jul 18: matching mole
       * Jul 25: Julie/Open
       * Aug 1: matching mole
       * Aug 8: Kestrel
       * Aug 15: Lineatus
       * Aug 22: Lineatus
       * Aug 29: Lineatus

This was not a bird-watching trip, so all of these were incidental sightings, i.e., "point the camera at whatever’s chirping while racing to the next museum."  

One of the most striking sightings came in Amsterdam.  Living near a river in Texas, I’m no stranger to herons.  I was shocked, however, at the differences between American and Dutch herons.  In Amsterdam, they are roughly equivalent to pigeons: urban, dirty, and fearless.  Though I’m tempted to make a cheap quip about them being stoned, it’s more accurate to say they were smoking crack.  At any rate, here are some of the warriors from the Albert Cuyp Market, one of Europe’s largest outdoor markets:






From a birder’s perspective, the most fascinating aspect of visiting a new continent was observing the parallel ecosystem, in which almost all of the same families exist, but with different species.  Though it’s above my pay grade to explain the evolutionary history, perhaps someone can pop in and provide insight.

I was thrilled that my favorite American family, Paridae (chickadees/titmice), was well represented in Western Europe.  Most common was the great tit:


Many of the pictures come courtesy of a well-stocked bird feeder at the delightful little inn where we stayed in Fussen, Germany, including this tit:


Here’s one in Strasbourg:


And here’s the same tit feeding its fledgling:


The common songbird I most wanted to see was the blue tit (it’s like a blue and yellow chickadee.  What could be cuter?).  Luckily, a tree in Zaandijk, Netherlands, provided my only spotting:


I also found this remarkably close chickadee cousin.  It’s either a marsh tit or willow tit (help?):


Perhaps the most commonly heard bird on the trip was the chaffinch.  Here’s one from Amsterdam’s Vondelpark:


Its song is similar enough to the house finch that I knew I was listening to a close relative.  It sounded to me like "chirpety-chirpety-chirpety-chew-chew-rick-steves," though I might have been hallucinating part of that from reading too many guidebooks.  Here’s one feeding a fledgling in Germany:


Speaking of close cousins, this downy woodpecker wannabe is actually a great spotted woodpecker, distinguished by its red underparts:



On the other hand, some families produced strikingly different species.  This is a jay:



A magpie:


A jackdaw:


I think this is a black redstart, though I haven't fully ruled out the red blackstart:


A crappy photo?  Whatever.  I had other priorities in Switzerland.


This was a treat – a rose-ringed parakeet in Vondelpark.  Supposedly there are 10,000 of them in The Netherlands:


Some familiar waterbirds:


A "schwan," as they’re known in Lucerne where I saw this one:


This is either a chiffchaff or willow warbler (or maybe something else, hopefully with a similarly alliterative name like jigjabble):


And finally, I regret to report that Europe isn’t immune from feeder raiders:


Originally posted to Adam S. (cardinal) on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:03 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site