Having an hour or so spare yesterday afternoon I jumped off the tube at Knightsbridge and wandered over to The Serpentine thinking I might jam a Yellow-legged Gull. Walking through Knightsbridge I had a strange experience involving some sort of trans location or time/space continuum issue. I found myself in a different capital city, luckily I quickly realised that I was in Moscow, I was pleased it was during the day when there were many Moscovites about dressed for the winter in typical Moscovian dress. It would have been almost indistinguishable in darkness without the people around and I may not have realised at all.
I reached Hyde Park, it was a pleasant afternoon as I strolled in open-necked shirt, no Yellow-legged Gull but three Lesser Black-backed Gull were year ticks as were 20-odd Shoveler.
Unused to urban southern birds I admit to being slightly disconcerted when a Black-headed Gull came up and stood on my foot begging for food, particularly when it became clear that it was an attempt to distract me as some strange goose hybrid tried to pick my pocket. I moved off quickly before the approaching juvenile Common Gull could try and sell me cheap cockles.
I spied another birder, an elderly bearded gent who was looking intently at the BHG's, I scanned quickly was there a Med or a Bonaparte's? Seeing nothing unusual I went over and had a chat, turns out he was reading ring numbers and had just found a Lithuanian ringed bird, which prompted me to question whether it had been Vilnius rather than Moscow I had been strangely transported too earlier.
My disappointment at the ring on the Egyptian Goose that fed in Diana's memorial (there's one for the reincarnationists!) was quickly replaced by euphoria when I found two obviously genuine and unringed birds on the far side of The Serpentine that had no doubt just arrived as part of the massive cold weather movements currently taking place here in the UK, my timing could not have been more fortuitous. I could tell they were wary as they looked up at least twice when large dogs trotted past.
I hurried back toward the tube narrowly avoiding two large grey rats with bushy tails that seemed to have accosted some foreign visitors and were pretending to be cute and friendly. Urban birding, dangerous stuff, not sure how David does it day in day out.