A Travellerspoint blog


Day 18: My Favorite French Word

semi-overcast 70 °F


If you make it through this post, I will tell you what it means, and you will surely understand why it is my favorite word.

Anyway, today we woke up, had a quick breakfast, and started yet another walking tour of the surrounding area. The first stop was at Ste. Chapelle, a beautiful chapel featuring tall stain glass windows.........most of which were covered in scaffolding.

There were a few spots that thankfully lacked scaffolding:

Including the focal point of the chapel, the stain glass window of Jesus being crowned with a crown of thorns:

Then, we headed to a boring museum about revolutionary times. The exit was my favorite part about it.

After lunch, we walked to ANOTHER museum, the...expansive Louvre. Alright, alright, it is the "grandest" museum in Paris, but at this point, I was kind of "museum-ed out." This was like the five-hundred-umpteenth museum on this trip!

The Mona Lisa was pretty amazing and temporarily lifted my spirits.

The Louvre:

"Sortie" means exit. That is why it is my favorite word in French.

To end our afternoon, we took a bus tour of Paris, which ended at a great lookout onto the Eiffel Tower:

Then, we had dinner at our apartment and a quiet rest of the evening.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow we head to England!

Happy (sort of) museum-ing,


Posted by skwclar 12:29 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 17: Tour of Paris

rain 55 °F

As the title suggests, today was another day touring the beautiful city of Paris. To be honest, Paris is exponentially cleaner, friendlier, and more unique than any typical American city.

We took a Rick Steve's audio tour around our part of the city during the morning. As soon as we stepped outside of our apartment, this stunning parade of horses trotted by:

The first planned stop was at Notre Dame cathedral. It was stunning.

The cathedral housed another version of the "Pieta;" we saw the more widely-known version in St. Peter's Basilica earlier this month.

St. Joan of Arc, the patron saint of France, was beatified at Notre Dame, which is the first step towards sainthood. There was a sculpture of her in the sanctuary:

Then, we stopped at a bridge that had thousands of locks chained to it. The locks were from couples that wanted to "keep their love" in Paris. Blugh.

On the upside, passing by that bridge allowed me to photograph my life bird EUROPEAN JAY:

As well as this COMMON WOOD PIGEON:


Then, we visited an underground memorial dedicated to the 200,000 French citizens who were sent to Nazi concentration camps.

Next, we passed by the "skinniest house in Paris," only two windows wide!

After a lunch of leftovers at our apartment, the first stop was at a medieval museum:

Then we headed over to the French Pantheon. We obviously visited during a bad time because it was "scaffolding around the world, part cinq," and on top of that, the famous pendulum inside was missing; it was being repaired! Good thing we didn't have to pay to get in...

Finally, we visited a museum that featured Monet's beautiful water lily paintings. They were some of the most gorgeous pieces of art I have ever seen. Sadly, know photos were allowed.

I did, however, see a few birds outside of the museum, such as this COMMON WOOD PIGEON:


Dinner was at a fabulous restaurant that only served steak for its main course. The desert menu, however, was expansive. My kind of restaurant...

It was a nice day.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow is our last full day in France (it will be spent sightseeing Paris)!

Good birding,
World Life List: 645 Species (1 life bird today: European Jay)

At this point I am doubting that I will reach 700 species by the end of my trip in just over a week from now, but no matter, because I have a lot of birding planned for the summer which may give my life list that needed boost...!

Posted by skwclar 13:12 Archived in France Tagged landscapes bridges churches buildings trees animals birds Comments (0)

Day 16: 1st Full Day in Paris

rain 70 °F

Today was a day devoted to sightseeing around Paris. In the morning, we toured Musee d'Orsay, a large building that has been transformed from a train station to a large museum holding expansive collections of impressionistic art. Here is one example of the art (I had to sneak this photo in because I actually wasn't allowed to take pictures!!):

When I arrive home, I will show that picture to my grandma who has a copy of that painting.

Then, we had a quick packed lunch and took "The Sewer Tour," which was an underground museum elevated just above the level of the sewers. There were various covered openings into the actual sewers so we got the full experience...stench and all. PU!

Then, for a complete opposite experience, we took a tour of the Paris Opera House, which was absolutely beautiful:

We all found the ceiling in the actual hall very interesting. It was painted in the 1960s and created an interesting juxtaposition against the traditionally beautiful concert hall.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, eating a pasta dinner, and having a gelato. It was a nice day.

Tomorrow will be another full day spent in Paris, so stay tuned!

World Life List: 644 Species

I have finally revised my life list, which is down to 644 species (!!) because I was previously counting duplicates in my list! Here is my life list in approximate taxonomic order:

North Island Brown Kiwi
Little Spotted Kiwi
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Cape Barren Goose
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Mute Swan
Black Swan
American Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Grey Teal
Chestnut Teal
Australian Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
New Zealand Scaup
Paradise Shelduck
Australian Shelduck
Brown Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Orange-footed Scrubfowl
Grey-headed Chachalaca
California Quail
Wild Turkey
Ruffed Grouse
Sage Grouse
Chukar Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Red Junglefowl
Green Junglefowl
Common Pheasant
Common Loon
Little Penguin
Wandering Albatross
Southern Royal Albatross
Shy Albatross
Salvin's Albatross
Buller's Albatross
Northern Giant Petrel
Cape Petrel
White-chinned Petrel
Westland Petrel
Sooty Shearwater
Fluttering Shearwater
Hutton's Shearwater
Yelkouan Shearwater
Cory's Shearwater
White-faced Storm-petrel
Common Diving Petrel
Australasian Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
Hoary-headed Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Horned Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Wood Stork
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Green Ibis
Royal Spoonbill
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill
Rufescent Tiger Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Cinnamon Bittern
Black-crowned Night Heron
Green Heron
Javan Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Grey Heron
Great Blue Heron
Cocoi Heron
Purple Heron
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
White-faced Heron
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Little Egret
Pacific Reef Heron
Australian Pelican
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Australasian Gannet
Brown Booby
Little Pied Cormorant
Spotted Shag
Neotropic Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
European Shag
Little Black Cormorant
Australian Pied Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Australasian Darter
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Western Osprey
Eastern Osprey
Black-shouldered Kite
Hook-billed Kite
Square-tailed Kite
Black Hawk-Eagle
Golden Eagle
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Harrier
Australian Harrier
Black Kite
Bald Eagle
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Snail Kite
Great Black Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Semiplumbeous Hawk
Grey Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Common Buzzard
White-breasted Waterhen
Ruddy-breasted Crake
White-throated Crake
Purple Swamphen
Common Moorhen
Common Gallinule
Eurasian Coot
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Beach Stone-Curlew
South Island Oystercatcher
Pied Oystercatcher
Variable Oystercatcher
Black-winged Stilt
Masked Lapwing
Southern Lapwing
Pacific Golden Plover
American Golden Plover
New Zealand Plover
Red-capped Plover
Wattled Jacana
American Woodcock
Pin-tailed Snipe
Wilson's Snipe
Short-billed Dowitcher
Bar-tailed Godwit
Eurasian Curlew
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Black Noddy
Red-billed Gull
Silver Gull
Black-billed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Laughing Gull
Franklin's Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Pacific Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Kelp Gull
Western Gull
Yellow-footed Gull
Thayer's Gull
European Herring Gull
American Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Little Tern
Fairy Tern
White-fronted Term
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black-fronted Tern
Brown Skua
Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Common Wood Pigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove
Crested Pigeon
Peaceful Dove
Mourning Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove
White-tipped Dove
Laughing Turtle Dove
Pied Imperial Pigeon
New Zealand Pigeon
Greater Ani
Lesser Coucal
Squirrel Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Pacific Koel
Common Cuckoo
Eastern Screech Owl
Snowy Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Barred Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Common Nighthawk
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Edible-nest Swiftlet
Chimney Swift
White-throated Swift
Asian Palm Swift
Alpine Swift
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Long-billed Hermit
White-necked Jacobin
Green Violetear
Green-breasted Mango
Black-throated Mango
Black-bellied Hummingbird
Violet-headed Hummingbird
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird
Garden Emerald
Violet-bellied Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
White-bellied Hummingbird
Purple-throated Mountaingem
Magnificent Hummingbird
White-vented Plumeleteer
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Scintillant Hummingbird
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Collared Trogon
Laughing Kookaburra
Blue-winged Kookaburra
Javan Kingfisher
Sacred Kingfisher
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Pied Puffbird
Prong-billed Barbet
Keel-billed Toucan
Black-mandible Toucan
Red-headed Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Smoky-brown Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Williamson's Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-naped Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Lineated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Yellow-headed Caracara
Lesser Kestrel
Common Kestrel
Nankeen Kestrel
American Kestrel
Bat Falcon
Eurasian Hobby
Prairie Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
New Zealand Kaka
Glossy Black Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Gang-gang Cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Rainbow Lorikeet
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella
Australian King Parrot
Alexandrine Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Scarlet Macaw
Monk Parakeet
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Red-lored Amazon
Red-faced Spinetail
Spotted Barbtail
Ruddy Treerunner
Lineated Foliage-gleaner
Streak-breasted Treehunter
Spotted Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
Barred Antshrike
Dusky Antbird
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Paltry Tyrannulet
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Dark Pewee
Western Wood Pewee
Eastern Wood Pewee
Tropical Pewee
Yellowish Flycatcher
Tufted Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Hammond's Flycatcher
Grey-capped Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Lesser Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Grey Kingbird
Great Crested Flycatcher
Blue Cotinga
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Blue-crowned Manakin
Red-capped Manakin
Superb Lyrebird
Superb Fairywren
Thick-billed Grasswren
New Holland Honeycreeper
New Zealand Bellbird
New Zealand Brown Creeper
Little Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird
Yellow-throated Miner
Striated Fieldwren
Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
White-browed Scrubwren
Pied Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Black Currawong
White-breasted Woodswallow
Common Iora
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
White-eyed Vireo
Bell's Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Cassin's Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Brown-capped Vireo
Philidelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Scrub Greenlet
Black-naped Oriole
Willy Wagtail
Grey Fantail
New Zealand Fantail
Rufous Fantail
Grey Jay
Blue Jay
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
Eurasian Magpie
Black-billed Magpie
Clark's Nutcracker
Western Jackdaw
House Crow
American Crow
Carrion Crow
Hooded Crow
Forest Raven
Little Raven
Australian Raven
Northern Raven
White-winged Chough
Eastern Yellow Robin
Rose Robin
Scarlet Robin
New Zealand Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Black-and-yellow Phainoptila
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Eurasian Blue Tit
Great Tit
Eurasian Skylark
Horned Lark
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Sand Martin
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Tree Martin
Fairy Martin
Purple Martin
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Welcome Swallow
Common House Martin
Striated Swallow
American Cliff Swallow
Little Grassbird
Zitting Cisticola
Golden-headed Cisticola
Bar-winged Prinia
Eurasian Blackcap
Subalpine Warbler
Grey Warbler
Australian Silvereye
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
Plain Wren
Carolina Wren
Eurasian Wren
Winter Wren
Pacific Wren
House Wren
Ochraceous Wren
White-breasted Wood Wren
Grey-breasted Wood Wren
Song Wren
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Eurasian Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eurasian Treecreeper
Brown Creeper
Short-toed Treecreeper
Grey Catbird
Tropical Mockingbird
Sage Thrasher
Brown Thrasher
Metallic Starling
Javan Myna
Common Myna
Common Starling
Bassian Thrush
Eastern Bluebird
Western Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend's Solitaire
Black-faced Solitaire
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush
Grey-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Common Blackbird
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Mountain Thrush
Clay-colored Thrush
American Robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin
European Robin
European Pied Flycatcher
Black Redstart
Northern Wheatear
American Dipper
Brown-throated Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
House Sparrow
Italian Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Red-browed Finch
Zebra Finch
Javan Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Common Chaffinch
Purple Finch
Cassin's Finch
House Finch
European Greenfinch
Common Linnet
Common Redpoll
Red Crossbill
Two-barred Crossbill
European Goldfinch
Citril Finch
European Serin
American Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch
Pine Siskin
Yellow-bellied Siskin
Yellow-crowned Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Elegant Euphonia
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Flame-throated Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Northern Parula
Tropical Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
American Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Black-throated Grey Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Rufous-capped Warbler
Black-cheeked Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Slate-throated Whitestart
Collared Whitestart
Chestnut-headed Oropendola
Montezuma Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Scarlet-rumped Cacique
Yellow-billed Cacique
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Common Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
Eastern Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Rufous-collared Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Savannah Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Henslow's Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
California Towhee
Yellow-thighed Finch
Common Bush Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Cherrie's Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Spangle-cheeked Tanager
Blue Dacnis
Shining Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Slaty Flowerpiercer
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Lapland Longspur
Smith's Longspur
Flame-colored Tanager
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Western Tanager
White-winged Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Northern Cardinal
Black-headed Saltator
Indigo Bunting
Lazuli Bunting

Posted by skwclar 12:54 Archived in France Comments (2)

Day 15: Rural Normandy to Paris

rain 70 °F

Today my family and I traveled to Paris, the largest and most famous city in the wonderful country of France. It was a good day for traveling because it rained most of the day.

We woke up early to eat another fantastic breakfast prepared by Odille, the owner of our farm stay, and then my mom and dad packed while I got Pearl "out of their hair." I managed to bird a bit while entertaining Pearl's happy bottom. I saw a number of species, including this SONG THRUSH:


And finally, this EUROPEAN GREENFINCH:

Also seen was an out-of-place life-bird EUROPEAN MOORHEN which didn't allow for photographs.

Then, we drove for about two and a half hours to a nice town called Rouen. Upon arriving there, we dropped off our rental car, managed a quick tour of the beautiful Rouen Cathedral, and hopped on an express train to Paris.

After the 1.5 hour ride into Paris, we took two subways, walked a few blocks, and finally arrived at our nice rental apartment less than a block away from the Seine River. Upon arriving in Paris, I quickly got my life bird CARRION CROWS and EUROPEAN HERRING GULLS.

The evening was devoted to unpacking, eating a chicken dinner, and traveling to and from the famous Arc de Triomphe, more appropriately named "Scaffolding Around the World, Part Quatre!"

The view from the top, however, was stunning, affording probably the best views we'll get of the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful in the glow of the evening light.

Stay tuned, because the next four nights will be spent here in Paris. Tomorrow, one sightseeing destination will be the Tuileries city park, so there might be a few good birds despite being in an urban setting.

Good birding,

World Life List: 742 Species
3 life birds today:
European Moorhen
Carrion Crow
European Herring Gull

By the way, I am currently revising my life list, so a weird addition or subtraction to the number of species in my life list without actually seeing any new life birds may appear one of these days.

Posted by skwclar 12:48 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 14: A Tour of Normandy

sunny 70 °F

Today my family and I toured the beautiful coastal French province of Normandy. It was a gorgeous day of 70 degrees and absolutely sunny skies, and sadly, it will be our last for quite a while because it will be rainy for the majority of our time in Paris (our next destination).

Anyway, today started out with a deluxe French breakfast cooked by our fabulous host Odille. Even though this was the unthinkable yesterday, it trumped even yesterday's decadent breakfast.

Then, we hopped in the car and started our day tour of the beautiful, historical, and intriguing province of Normandy. Odille's nineteen year-old (!!) dog came to greet us just as we were leaving:

Our first destination was a small museum about D Day. D Day was June 6, 1944, when the American, French, British, and Canadian militaries joined forces and stormed the beaches of Normandy against the Nazis. The Americans by far had the most casualties (I believe somewhere around 10,200 confirmed deaths), but they also conquered the two toughest beaches of the five in total. This would be the start of the Nazi's downfall in Europe.

The museum was small (the way I like 'em), and the highlight was a 20-minute video about that terrible day.

After the museum, I ran into a pretty nice pocket of birds on the way back to the car:

BLACKCAP (singing male):




At one point even an extremely out-of-place life bird EURASIAN CURLEW, a large shorebird, flew over (too quickly for photos)!

The next stop was at a place of ruins for small Nazi gun huts atop the cliffs overlooking the English Channel that were used in the war:

They were in a bushy grassland setting, so I actually managed to see quite a few birds in the area, like the ones photographed below:

SKYLARK, a common species of Eurasian open areas:

2nd-cycle LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, life bird! Thanks to Amar Ayyash, the Chicago area's premier expert on gulls, for clinching the identification.


COMMON LINNETS (life bird):

In addition to the passerines (songbirds) and larus species (gulls), there was a nice assortment of raptors overhead as well, such as the following:

COMMON BUZZARD, the most abundant raptor of the day:

Even this PEREGRINE flew over!

Finally, I spotted my life bird EURASIAN SHAG swimming far out in the English Channel (too far for good photos).

After a quick lunch break, we headed over to the American Cemetery. First, we toured a secure museum and then we headed into the cemetery. It was a very moving experience to see that the monuments of people who gave up their lives for the good of others whom they would never meet, have barely weathered after nearly seventy years of exposure to the elements.

I saw a few common avian species there such as this EURASIAN MAGPIE:

And this female COMMON CHAFFINCH:

Then, we drove back to the beautiful farm we are staying at and had a lovely, peaceful afternoon (with the exception of my little monke...I mean sister).

Stay tuned because tomorrow, we are off to La Paris.

Good birding,

World Life List: 739 Species
4 life birds today:
Eurasian Curlew
Eurasian Shag
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Common Linnet

Here's to hoping that nothing as tragic as D Day will ever happen again:

Posted by skwclar 13:01 Archived in France Tagged beaches birds boats Comments (3)

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