Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Born Again Birder

Veteran birders who suddenly find themselves in a new environment re-experience the excitement of their early birding days, when almost every sighting was a new species.  Such has been my experience here in Switzerland where, aside from house sparrows, European starlings, herring gulls and Eurasian collared doves, most birds have been "lifers" when first encountered.  Even the crows, known here as carrion crows, have a unique appearance and call.

I have mentioned a number of the new species in previous posts (red kites, black kites, white storks, chaffinches and black redstarts, to name a few) and I came across black-headed gulls,  two great crested grebes and a few European coot on Lake Geneva the other day.  A grey heron flew over our hotel last evening (looking very much like a great blue heron) and blue tits (blue and yellow chickadees) have been foraging around the complex since our arrival; other local sightings have included European magpies, wood pigeons and black swifts.  A walk to a nearby greenbelt this morning turned up colorful European goldfinches and, to my surprise, a European dipper.  I'm sure many more species will be added when we travel through the Alps.

Of course, we veteran birders have an advantage over new birders since we are already familiar with the various avian families and can quickly narrow down our search in a regional field guide.  But the thrill is still there and I'm feeling like a born again birder!