Where there is food and water, there will be animal life. This is particularly true for birds for whom there are no boundaries… the sky is their limit!
On our recent 15-day trip to Europe, specifically The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, we spotted many birds, a few that we see in our backyards and neighbourhoods in India, but many that I hadn’t seen before. Whenever possible, I tried to capture them on my camera.
Our first stop was the tulip gardens of Keukenhof, The Netherlands. With the millions of flowers, I guess our attention was on them and not on the birds that were possibly around. At one point many were looking way up high to check out a distinctive knocking sound. It was a woodpecker hammering away, scarcely visible among the trees. Before I could focus, it had flown away. We didn’t see a woodpecker again on our trip.
In the fountain area at Keukenhof, we saw a Mallard couple. We spotted them again in Copenhagen. A few of them lay under the trees as we walked through the King’s Garden, and at Tivoli Gardens they were enjoying the atmosphere of the amusement park as much as we were. There was one Mallard that looked a bit different, without the characteristic white ring. On trying to ID it, it seems that it is a Mallard hybrid. The females were elusive. [Edit: A blog reader Avery Fish says the mallards are of the domesticated type, so technically not wild hybrid.]
At Keukenhof, while walking around the periphery of the canal abutting the tulip fields, we spotted a lone Eurasian Coot in the shadows of the thick foliage, given away by its white frontal shield. The place would provide a good nesting place during the breeding season. We also saw Coots at Roskilde, a town located 30 km west of Copenhagen, in the waters near Roskilde harbour and the adjacently located Viking Museum. The waters were so clear that we could see the feet of the birds under the water.
Along with the Mallards in the pond at Tivoli Gardens, we saw one big Eurasian Moorhen. It was enjoying the aeration bubbler and once it had enough, it got out of the water took a walk on the fence.
Great Blue Heron
In Copenhagen in April-May, it is bright till 9:30 p.m. or so, so it gets quite late before the lights come on, even at the Tivoli Gardens amusement park. When the lights do come on, the place looks like fairyland! The evening was cold and while the children were on the rides we kept warm by walking around the park. We were happy we did for we would have otherwise missed this magnificent bird in the middle of the big lake, the reflection of the lights in the water adding to its brilliance.
There were a few Indian Peafowls roaming around at Tivoli Gardens. One seemed quite used to people, not hesitating to come close… close enough to get a good picture without any zoom. In fact, someone needed to close the door of the restaurant lest it walked in to be served. All the Peafowls we spotted were females, with one white one choosing to stay away from the crowds, watching from the branches of a huge tree.
There were many more birds that I will write about in future posts.