Sunday 18 May 2014
Hello all, and welcome back to the last post dedicated to my Europe 2014 trip! ?
First of all, I need to give a summary of my last full day in England, which I neglected to post due to the extremely poor wifi connection at our inn.
The day was dedicated towards touring the absolutely gorgeous English countryside south of the city of Bath with my family and Uncle John.
Our first stop was Stonehenge, which required a drive, a bus ride, and finally a moderate walk in order to get there, but the pay off was definitely worth it, however, because it was truly one of the most unique historical sites we visited on this trip.
EURASIAN JACKDAWS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS, and ROOKS, such as this one, enjoyed perching on the stones...even to the extant that if someone looked upon it from above, they would probably rename it Bird Poop Henge.
Here is an interesting comparison photo that I took of England's two most common corvids: ROOK (left), and EURASIAN JACKDAW (right):
Here is a close-up of a ROOK. Check out that funky bill:
COMMON BLACKBIRDS where ubiquitous, as usual, throughout the day:
Then, we visited the bustling English town of Salisbury, in order to tour our final famous cathedral of the trip...the aptly named Salisbury Cathedral. It was another magnificent building of towers, flying buttresses, and resplendent artwork. Did you know that the main bell tower leans two and a half feet?! You surely wouldn't know it:
Oh, yeah, it was scaffolding around the world, part one hundred (!):
The inside was gorgeous as well:
Some birds seen on the way back to the car were this EURASIAN MOORHEN:
And this EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH:
Then, after an hour car-ride back to the inn, we toured the Lacock Abbey, which was only a short walk from our inn. Scenes from various Harry Potter movies were filmed there, and the staff had birds of prey on display on premises, so I found this stop particularly interesting.
Here is a photo of my mom and Pearl posing in a cloister within the abbey:
Then, we spent a quiet evening in town and got up bright and early today in order to eat breakfast at the pub below our inn. After breakfast, I went birding and had a few nice finds, such as this COAL TIT:
Singing EURASIAN WREN:
Beautiful EUROPEAN ROBIN:
Later, we packed up the car, stuffed all five people including Uncle John into our cramped "Vauxhall," and we started on our journey back to London. By the way, I have concluded that London is my all-time favorite city!
We made a stop along the way at another interesting circular stone formation. It is even older than Stonehenge at about 6,000 years old (compared to a "mere" 4,000). I found this stone formation more enjoyable because you were allowed to walk amongst the rocks, whereas in Stonehenge there is a designated walking trail that forms a very large circle around those rocks. This stone formation was also located on a sheep farm, which made for a totally authentic experience (sheep droppings and all).
After approximately forty minutes, Uncle John treated Pearl and me (and himself) to ice cream since it is my birthday tomorrow!
Then, we piled into our "Vauxhall" and drove the rest of the journey to London's Heathrow International Airport. After dropping the car off at the airport, just before we checked in with United Airlines, we had to say goodbye to Uncle John, who will stay in London for two more days before heading off to his home, Seattle. It has been a great leg of our journey with him, and we definitely had many more laughs than we would have had without him.
Security went very, very expediently, until...
My satchel and Pearl's backpack were put on the "special" security counter after going through regular security.
We had to wait an entire half an hour before the two items were screened, because other backpacks and carry-ons were un-democratically leap-frogging ours in the "special security line."
Then, I found one of those stands that asks you how your experience in security was...and I availed myself of that thing. I tapped every rhythm imaginable from "Shave and a Hair Cut" to "Beethoven's First Piano Sonata" onto the "very dissatisfied" button. Many passer-bys found my inventive anger ventilation humorous, while the airport officials looked upon me with acute disliking (as only the English can).
Finally, the bags were examined, and the reason for my bag being put in the "special lane" was that I had carried my "jumbo-sized" calculator in the satchel. Boy, that irritating mathematical instrument causes me many problems...within school and out! ?
Anyway, we raced to our gate (which of course was the furthest one away from the security check-point) and just barely had time to grab a bite to eat for the plane before boarding.
Then, we boarded our United Airlines B767-300, and after a surprisingly short wait, the plane pulled out of the gate quite a few minutes early!
After a short taxi, we were in the air, and overall our United Airlines experience, just like our experience on this airline coming home from Beijing, was enjoyable, smooth, and best of all, early!
After literally racing through the security, customs, immigration, and baggage at O'Hare (I swear all of that took us less than five minutes!), our favorite taxi driver, Edward, picked us up, and...now we're home!
I immediately quenched my thirst for warblers and went birding around the neighborhood. Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks with sheer astonishment that my first warbler after the trip was a rare, beautiful, obliging CANADA WARBLER (check out that wonderfully contrasting black necklace against the yellow belly):
The other noteworthy bird of the walk was this GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH:
Here is the wrap-up of the Europe trip as a whole:
I neglected to include my birding summary for England, so here it is:
19 life birds
Best birds: Eared Grebe, Little Ringed Plover
Best birding: London Wetlands with my Dad (I found both of the above species there)
So, as I expected, England was my favorite and most productive country with regards to birding on this trip. Save the best for last!
I definitely found this trip very enjoyable, informative, and interesting.
I now have a greater appreciation and understanding of the world because of all of the sightseeing, birding, and best of all, spending cherished time with family, on all of these wonderful trips this year.
For anyone who is interested, here is my summary of our three main trips this past winter:
This was the best trip with regards to birding.
New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore
This was the best trip with regards to nature as a whole and overall diversity of locations visited.
Turkey, Italy, France, and England
This was the best trip with regards to historical sightseeing.
Now, I will list the things that I have most been looking forward to about arriving back home:
Family. Especially my Grandma.
Friends from band and Chicago Children's Choir.
My own bed.
SLEEP, GLORIOUS SLEEP!
WARBLER MIGRATION!!! I REPEAT...WARBLER MIGRATION!
It is my birthday tomorrow, May 19! I will be turning 14 years old.
With regards to future posts on this blog, yes, they will happen! I am planning many special birding trips for this summer and I plan for birding to be a life-long hobby, so I will keep this blog up as long as I can. Please, please, keep following the blog if you're even remotely interested in my wacky avian-related musings and meanderings.
This has been a life-changing and unforgettable year that I will remember for my entire life.
As always, stay tuned, and...you guessed it...happy birding!!
World Life List: 663 SPECIES!