Birds seen in Europe (Part 5)

Where there is the sea, there will be gulls. After all, the sea is what a gull calls home. Looking back, we did spend much of our vacation close to water, so it was natural to have spotted gulls in almost every city that we visited.

Common Gull

Unlike what the name suggests, the Common Gull was not really everywhere. Characterised by a red eye-ring, we first spotted it at Roskilde, Denmark, atop one of the houses. While on the boat from Flam to Gudvangen on Naeroyfjord (one of Norway’s scenic fjords) however, there were many of them following us, looking out for scraps of food. Continue reading

Birds spotted in Europe (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

The King’s Garden is the oldest park in Copenhagen, established in the 17th century, abutting the Rosenborg Castle of King Christian IV. On our first morning in Copenhagen, we spent some time walking through this 12-hectare park, taking in the sights and smells of the Danish spring.

walk through Kings Garden
King’s Garden, Copenhagen

Hooded Crow

Here and there, strutting around on the green grass of the King’s Garden with authority were these birds that behaved like our Indian House Crows, but they looked different – dominant light grey plumage with glossy black restricted to head, throat, wings and tail. They were bigger but with the same boldness, not hesitating to walk close to humans. We didn’t see many crows during the rest of our trip. Continue reading

Birds spotted in Europe (Part 1)

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. Continue reading

The cradle of the Dutch tulip

Tulips are found all over The Netherlands and parts of Europe, but when one talks of them, Keukenhof, with its millions of colourful flowers is the place that comes to mind.

IMG_7411
Keukenhof, April 2018

Not many would be aware that the first large collection of tulips was brought to the Netherlands and successfully cultivated by Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius, in the Hortus botanicus, a garden laid out in premises of the University of Leiden, for education and research purposes.

Leiden Univ entrance

Continue reading

The most beautiful spring garden in the world

Holland=Tulips=Keukenhof

IMG_3795 Holland equals Keukenhof
Developing new tulips is a long-drawn process, taking several years

Our family (with the Pai family) was fortunate to visit Keukenhof on 27th April this year (King’s Day, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands). “The most beautiful spring garden in the world”, spread over 32 hectares, is open for about eight weeks every year, during March-May (Dutch spring). So one needs to plan well to get to see the millions of flowers, primarily tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, in full bloom. This period and the weeks prior to it are busy for the Dutch floriculture industry, enabling flower and bulb sellers display live brochures of their products. Continue reading