One of the first things I do when arriving at a new place or destination is to take a look at bird and other wildlife communities and compare to those I am most familiarized, in Portugal. It also comes naturally and it’s nothing intentional. When I first got to the UK, sure there were a few new species but the vast majority of birds where well known players. The things they were doing differently was what struck me; small details but nevertheless different.
The almost complete absence of house sparrows in cities; the urban bird communities are composed mainly by magpies and crows, wood pigeons (with numbers largely surpassing those of rock pigeons), robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, an assortment of tits and some finches here and there. So, basically the same species that appear all over the Western Paleartic. But the ones here are very tame; I have a magpie nest just in front of my window, I get the chance to take great photos (except for the crappy light) and lots of species come to birdfeeders (including reed buntings and blue treecreepers).
There’s waterfowl everywhere; the introduced canada geese are omnipresent, mute swans, mallards and coots are also all over the place. But there are some oddballs to me, like tufted ducks, mergansers, pochards and grebes, that only got a glimpse in Portugal but are quite common, even in urban parks and reservoirs.
The gulls: common, herring, lesser and greater black backed. Plus, black headed and some artic visitors that I wasn’t able to identify.
Birds are doing strange things: there are some kind of mixed foraging flocks composed by blackbirds tossing up leaf litter with dunnocks and robins taking runaway bugs; I am not used to thrushes and lapwings singing and displaying because I’m only used to see them on Winter.
What is lacking in less diversity in species will be compensated on different behaviours and interactions. And some new species as well.