The United Kingdom is a terrific place to start learning your European Birds. One of the reasons is that many people in the United Kingdom love to watch birds. Another reason is because they have many gardens associated with old houses and castles and beside their cottages. A third reason is that they have a varying habitat that supports different types of birds. We visited the United Kingdom in May after the migration so that we’d have the chance to see the spring and summer time birds.
The one bird we failed to find in the United Kingdom was the European Jay which for us was quite a surprise; in the United States, the Jays are one of the most raucous birds most noted for begging and theft. The European Jay differs by being secretive – it prefers the inside branches of evergreen trees. Other differences show up as you bird in the United Kingdom, not the least of which is that the European is a warbler and not a thrush. Here’s the list of where we went and why they were terrific.
Best Place to See Sea Birds : Cliffs of Ardrishag, Wales
In the cliffs at the North of Wales is a famous Wildlife Refuge called x where x, y and z nest. From the paths at the top of the cliffs, one can watch the comings and goings of many sea birds. The thrashing waters make it somewhat difficult to see but you leave amazed at these birds ability to adapt to the harsh conditions. A scope can be helpful for identifying although we spotted many species with the aid of second rate binoculars. Expect to see Great Northern Diver, Common Eider,
Best Place to See Game Birds : Glenlivet Country Whiskey District of Scotland
Between Inverness and Edinburgh lies the country where the best whiskeys are made including Glenlivet. At Glenlivet we were told it was because of the wonderful mountain water; our taste buds agreed. Many streams cascade through the farm lands. The fields grow grains such as barley and wheat. This is a terrific place to add the game birds to your life list. We spotted red grouse, red-legged partridge and gray partridge snacking on the grain spilled in the cut fields and in the mountain pass.
Best Place to See Wading Birds : The Wash, England
Birding in the Wash, England is best found at Titchwell NSPB wildlife refuge. We walked out on boardwalks and peered through blinds to spot many wading birds like avocet. It also happens to be my scope is bigger than your scope land, but we made do wonderfully with binoculars. Many of the marshy areas also had marsh birds like Common Teal, Avocet.
Best Place to See Passerine’s or Song Birds and Gulls : Salisbury area
We spotted the most birds in our first area of destination, Brighton Beach to Salisbury. On the beaches we found many easily identified gulls, although their populations changed around the coastlines of the United Kingdom. Our favorite spot was the Cissbury Rings, a hilly area with the ruins of an old fort amid farmland with wooded areas on the margins. We found many colorful songbirds and a fellow birder who gave us some tips about what we were seeing including Longtailed Tit and Yellowhammer.
Next Best Place to See Passerine’s or Song Birds : Pick a Garden, Any Garden
Our first stop on arrival in London after heading South was at a garden picked from a sign. We knew before coming that joining the National Trust netted you access to most historical sites inEngland, Wales and Scotland have their own set up. We actually had to wait for the garden to open because we had a red eye that dumped us off the airplane at 6:00 am. I was a bit shy of taking out my binoculars, but we still identified quite a few birds new to us. Chaffinch, robin, were the first identified but many more followed as we toured the country. Several gardens where we found lots of birds include Bodnant Gardens, Battle, St. James Park.
Best Place to See Corvids : Stonehenge
My husband and I had our first argument of our vacation over the subject of crows. In the parking lot at Stonehenge, dozens of corvids hang out. Our argument was about whether or not those crows were actually crows. I kept yelling and pointing saying look, his neck is gray and that one has a spot on his nose and I really don’t think those are crows. My husband was ready for his gin so all colors disappeared from view. Expect to find at Stonehenge Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Hooded Crow (maybe, we saw it at Battle) along with others like Spotted Flycatcher.
Field Guide’s we brought with us to England include:
Bill Oddie’s Birds of Britain & Ireland
Peterson Field Guide Birds of Britain and Europe
Collin’s Pocket Guide Birds of Britain & Europe
LaRousse Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland
The LaRousse Field Guide was the most used of the four, liked best because of the single bird per page along with a map format, small size, and pictures of the bird standing and in flight. It contains only the most common 256 species so the Collin’s book also came in handy.