Category Archives: France

Through the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, darkly

Following our stroll through the Jardin des Plantes, we entered the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution. The Galerie is a major natural history museum, and features hundreds of animal specimens and dozens of interesting displays. Four floors of exhibits are arranged around the main gallery located on the ground floor.

Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

The lighting is extremely dim, making some of the displays hard to read and all of them difficult to photograph.

Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

Many of the animal specimens aren’t covered, which makes an exciting initial impression. Visitors can get up close to the animals, but so can dust.

Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

One neat display called “Birds of the Tertiary” showed the fossilized remains of several early bird species. The Tertiary Period was 65 million to 2.6 million years ago.

Birds of the Tertiary

Scaniacypselus
Scaniacypselus, related to modern swifts (none of my other shots of captions came out)

Birds of the Tertiary

Birds of the Tertiary

Birds of the Tertiary

If you look for information about this museum online, you’ll find a lot of sites recommending it as a place to bring children. While the exhibits were pretty neat, the museum was a bit stuffy and lacked the type of hands-on exhibits usually aimed at kids. After a while the dark conditions wore us down so we kept our visit relatively short.

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A walk through the Jardin des Plantes

While in Paris, we visited the natural history museum in the Jardin des Plantes. The Jardin is a large botanical garden containing several museum galleries and a small zoo as well as horticultural displays. We walked through parts of the public garden before heading to the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution.

Stork Statue

We stopped for a rest by a large Lebanon Cedar tree. The tree had a plaque on it indicating it was brought to Paris in 1734. Holy cow, that’s old! I gave the tree a hug.

Lebanon Cedar

Lebanon Cedar

Outside of the Galerie there was a huge map of France and her territories.

Big map of France

The natural parks and wildlife reserves of each area was highlighted in different colors. Local flora and fauna, ranging from abundant and common to endangered or extinct were shown for many of the areas. Of course, quite a few of them were birds.

Map of France

New Caledonia

Bearded Vulture

After checking out France’s natural riches on the map, we headed to the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution.

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Pigeons on the Tour

Eiffel Tower

One of the places we visited in Paris back in August was the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

It was partly overcast, and would rain later in the day, but the view was still splendid. Here Sacre Coeur is in the distance.

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

It was the first time I was able to go all the way to the top (the sommet was sold out on earlier trips). The lines to the top floor were incredible; we waited about an hour on the second level before we could board elevators to the third (top). While crowded with tourists, some Paris residents appeared to seek relative solitude on the Tour Eiffel.

Pigeons on the Tower

Three French Pigeons

Pidge on the Tower

On the third level, I was surprised to find a paper diorama depicting the use of the tower in carrier pigeon experiments.

Pigeon Diorama

Diorama

I’m pretty sure I was the only one there taking photos in this direction. 😉

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Some favorite photos

I’ve been looking through my bird photos, trying to come up with my favorite birds of the last decade. I’m saving that list for another post, but I managed to pick out some favorite photos of birds that didn’t make my top ten list.

These twelve photos were taken in four different countries between 2006 and 2009 (since I haven’t been birding all that long and have only had my (super-zoom point-and-shoot) camera since ’06).

Can you guess what they are? They all link to Flickr where you can find out, or scroll to the end for a list.

Indian Pond Heron

Robin

Common Coot chick

Black-headed Ibis

Blue-winged Teal

Rufous Treepie

Chaffinch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Great Crested Grebe on nest

RSHA

Red-vented Bulbul

Tufted Ducks

Indian Pond Heron: Kota, India;
American Robin: Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA;
Common Coot chick: Starrevaart, Netherlands;
Black-headed Ibis: Ranthambhore, India;
Blue-winged Teal: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Rufous Treepie: Ranthambhore, India;
Chaffinch: Munster, France;
Red-breasted Nuthatch: Illinois USA;
Great Crested Grebe: Voorschoten, Netherlands;
Red-shouldered Hawk: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Red-vented Bulbul: Jaipur, India;
Tufted Duck: Flevoland, Netherlands.

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Video: Little Grebe crashes into Muskrat underwater

This video was taken at L’etang de Beaumont in France in August 2008. The lake is in the Loire Valley and one of the best birding spots in the region. We took this video from a hide by the lake. The muskrat is swimming along when it appears to hit something. A moment later a Little Grebe surfaces.

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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Video: Little Grebe plays sailboat

This video was taken at L’etang de Beaumont in France in August 2008. The lake is in the Loire Valley and one of the best birding spots in the region. We took this video from a hide by the lake. The Little Grebe looks to be stretching its wings but it did this for several minutes, so maybe it was trying to dry them off? It looked it was pretending to be a sailboat.

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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Video: White Wagtail walking on lilypads

This is another video I took during our visit to Chateau de Cheverny in France back in August 2008. There were lots of White Wagtails running around the grounds and several were hanging out at a small pond where we also saw a Kingfisher hunting. The Wagtails would fly up a few yards and then seem to divebomb back towards the water, but before hitting the surface they would slow down and land on a wooden structure that was in the water and furiously tail-wag. It was like they were trying to act like the Kingfisher by divebombing into the water.

Besides that strange behavior I also noticed a couple of Wagtails running across a patch of lilypads:

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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Video: Kingfisher in France

Last month we visited the Loire Valley region of France. We stayed in Bourguiel and visited several chateaux, including Cheverny, which is situated on lovely grounds that included a small pond where we saw this Kingfisher hunting for lunch.

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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Video: White Wagtail scooting around

Last month we visited the Loire Valley region of France. We stayed in Bourguiel and visited several chateaux, including Cheverny, which has huge lawns around it. We saw lots of Wagtails there, scooting around looking for food. I took this video of one doing a really great Roadrunner impersonation.

If you click on the video you can watch a hi-res version on YouTube.

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