Sunday, October 4, 2015

Birds of Paris!

The Birdwatcher at Bois de Boulogne
Coming down with a cold or flu soon after returning from Paris has done nothing for my good intentions of writing up our foreign adventures. I managed to go to work three days last week but found myself utterly lacking in ambition to do much of anything else in the evenings. Friday I finally took a sick day during which I slept a lot. Even yesterday I was dragging about the house though I did finish reading Jambusters and was moved to harvest more grapes though what I'm going to do with those grapes remains a mystery.

By now the birds of Paris are something of a blur as, indeed, they were, to some extent, while we were there. The thing about Paris, perhaps, is that it's been a city for a good long time and even the designated "bois" are pretty manicured. Oh, there are those who list all sorts of woodpeckers and the like and I swear I did see a streak of a blue bird in flight as we walked through the Bois de Boulogne, but the birds we actually saw clearly and could identify were pretty scant. Admittedly, we spent most of our time in the heart of the old city and certainly we were never out at dawn, or even anywhere near dawn, looking for birds. For a while, it seemed like the only birds we'd see would be in paintings at the Louvre or on graves at Pere Lachaise.
Some bird studies by Pieter Boel
Owl on a tomb at Pere Lachaise
Although of course we saw gulls, including this non-breeding version of a blackheaded gull:
Black-headed gull seen on the Seine and in parks all over Paris
We had some luck at the Bois de Boulogne, though possibly our "wildest" sighting there was the half-naked man sitting, mercifully cross-legged, by the stream that runs through the park. The prostitutes were quite nondescript while the presumed customer was remarkably well-dressed and driving a Jaguar. There are some things I will never understand and, possibly, that I'm not all that eager to understand. Back to the birds . . .

 In the BdeB, we initially saw only the usual pigeons (possibly the exotic-seeming colombe ramier as well as the universal rock doves/pigeons) and crows (again, the latter were likely not American or Northwestern crows but they really could have been) so I was excited when we encountered some European magpies in the company, inevitably, of pigeons.

Tree creeper (!!!)
 Far more thrilling, however, was the tree creeper flocking with some tits. Once we reached the ponds, we found a great blue heron, some mute swans, a great many Canada geese who were joined by some exotic geese I've yet to identify, and some Eurasian coots.

Vacationing Canada geese with some unidentified geese in the background*
Thanks to the collective wisdom of the Tweeters list, I can say that the other geese are bar-headed geese (which are not native to Europe at all)

Eurasian coot adult and juvenile

Molting mute swans

Parus caeruleus, aka Eurasian blue tit, aka the bird I'm looking at in that first photo

It was down from Sacre Coeur and also at the Rodin Museum gardens that we saw some fine, though camera-shy, European blackbirds, while we had to travel to Giverny for what we're calling a bullfinch and some frankly domesticated chickens. **OKAY, we can *call* it a bullfinch but more than a half dozen people on Tweeters are pretty sure it's a chaffinch due to the length of its beak and apparent color of its tail feathers, among other things. I need to get a copy of Birds of Europe. 

Monet's chicken (and above, the putative bullfinch, make that chaffinch)

Access to the colonnade at Parc des Buttes Chaumont was closed so here it is from the ground.
On our final day, at  Parc des Buttes Chaumont, we admired more coots, crows, and Canada geese; some very cooperative great tits; and a wren (Troglodytes troglodyte).

Coot, but is this the same sort of coot as we saw earlier?
Crow at Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Great tit, aka mesange noire
Wren at Parc des Buttes Chaumont (Troglodytes troglodytes)


  1. Thank you noting your most excellent sightings -- so much more interesting than that other stuff I've heard is there, like old buildings and art and such. I like the Tree Creeper best, I think -- a fabulous find. And glad to hear you are feeling better!

    1. Somehow I thought the tree creeper would appeal to you. Do you have any suggestions for confirming the bullfinch ID? Those are the best photos I've got of it, unfortunately.

    2. Not being a European birder (oh, how I wonder now what birds I saw when I spent those two months in Britain in 1982!), I cannot say how to ID your bird, other to ask Tweeters -- surely some of them go flying off to far-flung parts from time to time?

    3. Yes, I share your sense of regret when I think of the birds I probably saw all the time in my youth on the East Coast. But what about the non-Canada geese geese in the flock of geese photo? Any suggestions for an ID there?

    4. Sorry, those geese look utterly alien to me. And very cool!

    5. Should you be breathlessly waiting for the results, Tweeters unanimously declares the geese to be non-native bar-headed geese while the smart money is on chaffinch for the other bird. They're smart, those Tweeters people.

  2. That first photo looks like it could be one of Alex's watercolors. Great pics! And I am jealous of your trip, it's been several years since we saw Paris. Maybe next year.

    1. Yes, Alex really needs to overcome her issue with planes and get herself to the continent; she'd go crazy trying to decide what to draw and paint first. It had been twenty years since I'd been to Paris, and I think Ioved it even more this time. The apartment was definitely the way to go.

    2. That's "I think *I* loved it even more this time. I wish one could edit comments on blogspot.

    3. I've seen France. It was dark, and I couldn't get off the ship, but we stopped at Le Havre on our way back across the Pond. It is perfectly possible for me to get to Europe without the benefit of an airplane. I have little desire to venture there, however, as it seems to be full of people. I prefer a population density on the order of Wyoming. Or maybe the Northwest Territories. Or Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica sounds just about right, people-wise.