St. Paul's & National Galleries
Tuesday, May 22, 2012: This morning I walked over to the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and did some birding. There was one new species for my British list: Gray Wagtail. Unlike the struggle we had to find these in the Crimea, these two were at the edge of the swimming area in the Serpentine. I also spent some time in Green Park, but turned up nothing new.
There's a lot of temporary construction around Buckingham Palace where they are preparing for the Queen's jubilee. I had planned to visit Westminster Abbey, but they don't open in the morning on Tuesday. After walking around the area a bit more, I took the tube toward St. Paul's. Some more walking was necessary to get there.
I spent a surprising amount of time there. After thoroughly seeing the main level, I not only walked up to the Whispering Gallery upstairs, but to the higher Stone Gallery outside (has a view), and then further up to the Golden Gallery (very good view). Then I zoomed down to the crypt. All of this took around 2 hours.
Then I took the tube to Leicester Square and visited the National Galleries. The portrait gallery turned out to be much more interesting than expected. It put faces to a number of familiar names.
After that, and photographing Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column, I did some walking around. This ranged from St. James Square (not Park) on the SW to Covent Garden Market on the NE. I had been to Covent Garden once before, during a conference here in 2000, but I had not seen it in the daytime. It was sunny and warm today, and I stopped for some ice cream at Covent Garden. Then I walked around past the Savoy and through the Embankment Garden before taking the Bakerloo line back to the hotel.
I found 32 species today, including 1 new British bird. That brings my trip total to 190, including 111 lifers, with totals of 177 for the Ukraine and 57 for Britain (64 life total).
Hilton London Metropole, London, England
Wednesday, May 23, 2012: I didn't get out until around 7 when I walked over to Paddington Station to make sure I knew the way. It's about a 6 minute walk. I had breakfast on the way back.
I went out in earnest around 8, walking to Kensington Gardens, and birding there. Didn't find anything new, but I won't be seeing some of these birds for some time. Also took a few photos.
I then walked south to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I got there just a couple of minutes after opening. Just enough time for the crowd outside to move inside. I stayed for about an hour. Many of the exhibits have changed since my previous visit in 2000, but it was still interesting.
Once my time was up, I took the tube back to Edgware Road and returned to the hotel. I got everything packed with about 20 minutes to spare (before checkout time), then headed over to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express.
The return flight was uneventful. We left Heathrow a few minutes late, which delayed us slightly getting into Miami.
I found 27 species today. That leaves my trip total at 191, including 113 lifers, with final totals of 177 for the Ukraine and 57 for Britain (64 life total). I also saw 10 mammal species (5 lifers).
Miami, Florida, USA