Monday, 16 May 2011

Birding the FA Cup Final

Never mind a displaying Great Snipe at Cley or a showy Trumpeter Finch on Lundy Island, the biggest show in the UK on Saturday 14th May 2011 was the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City at Wembley.

I’d gone to hell and back (a car park in a Sheffield backstreet) to get a ticket. On the day of the match, I travelled down early morning by train, arriving at 10:20. Why was I in London nearly five hours before kick-off? So I could do some birding first, of course.

Nothing too extreme - just a quiet walk around Hyde Park without binoculars, to get a bird or two on the year list. My targets are both BOU Category C1 birds - naturalized introduced species that now derive from the resulting self-sustaining populations.

I walked from Hyde Park Corner to the Serpentine, looking and listening all the while. I managed to pick up 22 species before stopping for a break near the bridge across the lake. I looked down onto a small jetty in front of me, and there sleeping on the pontoon was one of the birds I was looking for: Egyptian Goose.

Egyptian Goose - Hyde Park, London

Bright green Ring-necked Parakeets are common in the Greater London area, which has a population of 10,000+ now. This doesn’t mean I can just get of a train in the smoke, look into a tree, and see one. Eventually I did, seeing three flying around after following their calls, but not before seeing another interesting Category C bird: Red-crested Pochard. A male a female on the Round Pond. Apologies for the poor quality photos – I only had my iPhone with me.

Red-crested Pochard - Hyde Park, London

So then, three new birds on the year list (yes, I wonder “why?” too). Then off to Wembley for a few too many drinks before the match with the other City fans (that’s Man City, not Stoke).

I won’t dwell on the game, there are plenty of proper reports on it. And anyway, I can hardly remember parts of it! But, unlike a famous Man-United-supporting birder (London born and bred, I’d like to point out), I didn’t get bored during the match because we weren’t winning yet and start looking at birds (sorry David, couldn't resist it). So, I may have missed a Peregrine, but rather that than miss Yaya Toure’s goal! The first trophy for 365 years, and the first FA Cup for 42 years (that's since before I was born)!

The final whistle - 14th May 2011, Wembley Stadium, London

Blue moon...

A top day out in the capital – here’s to many more!

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