David Lindo: The Vote National Bird Campaign

Britain does not have a national bird. That is an unbelievable fact, given that Britain – the birthplace of birding – is well known as a nation of animal lovers. So why does the nation, in which I was raised, not have an emblemic bird? After all, many other countries have one. For example, the USA has the Bald Eagle (since 1776), Mongolia has the Saker Falcon and Sweden is endowed with the Common Blackbird. In truth, Britain already has a national bird, albeit unofficial. Back in the early 60’s the European Robin was given the title of Britain’s Favourite…

APR
2015
24

There’s Always Time for Birding

I recently had the honor of attending the 2015 Polar Educators International Conference in Hannover, Germany. Being my first trip to Continental Europe, I was keen on seeing some new birds in new places. The conference, however, was booked pretty solidly with activities, workshops, and presentations relating to polar education, not birds. So I was going to have to sneak in some opportunistic birding during my week in Germany.   Traveling by plane always presents challenges with weight and space, particularly since birding wasn’t my main focus. I painfully left my APO-Televid scope and tripod at home. I opted for…

APR
2015
22

Local Patch Birding

Do you have a local patch? A spot near your home where you regularly go to bird? I live in Tucson, Arizona, and my spot is a wastewater treatment facility called Sweetwater Wetlands. The City of Tucson has created a spot that not only uses natural processes to help clean wastewater, but also provides a habitat for birds and other wildlife and serves as an outdoor classroom for Tucson students as well. I could easily spend an entire morning birding at Sweetwater, but it is close enough that I also stop by when I only have a little time. I…

Champions of the Flyway Part IV: The Race is On!

It was the morning before the race and our intention was to scout the immediate Eilat area and formulate the final part of our route. We started at Ofira Park in town where we could check the potential and look for the White-throated Kingfisher that had been reported here, while also grabbing some well needed coffee. The coffee was a success at least! Then on to Holland Park where we trudged around in a mostly exhausted state looking at the numerous “Sylvia” warblers here. We’d see many Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Orphean & Rueppell’s Warblers here, but we’d been working the area for…

APR
2015
17

Zhao Xinru: Tragopan in the Deep Fog

It was thirty years ago, with cold fog covering the mountains, unlocking the secrets of the moment’s feeling. In the spring of 1984 I was fortunate enough to be an assistant accompanying China’s famous ornithologist Professor Zheng Guangmei to southern Zhejiang Wuyanling Reserve. We had only one goal: to find Chinese endemic species, the Tragopan. Like legends, like the myth, Tragopan was already highly endangered. The fellows of Zhejiang knew about it by word of mouth, but almost no one actually witnessed its true capacity; we hoped to understand its ecological habits et least, and even more if impossible. Our…

Champions of the Flyway Part III: Piecing it Together

This is part three in a series of blog posts about the Champions of the Flyway event, an annual bird race (big day) for conservation held in Eilat, Israel. A true international event, birders from all over the globe are coming together to make a difference during Champions of the Flyway: a bird race that is making a difference. March 25, 2015 was the second annual Champions of the Flyway race with international teams of birders trying to see (or hear) as many species of birds as possible, all the while highlighting and raising funds to support a global conservation effort. In 2015, Leica…

APR
2015
13

Backyard Birding in Wales

We, Ruth Miller and Alan Davies, are two British birders that some of you may have heard of. Back in 2008 we set off on a birding adventure, The Biggest Twitch. Birding in 27 countries, we set a new world record for the number of species recorded in a single calendar year – an amazing 4,341! Since then we have been running birdwatching trips from our home in North Wales, traveling all over the UK, Europe and beyond, sharing our passion for birds with like-minded people. We are very lucky to be based in Llandudno, North Wales, some 240 miles…

Photographing Critically Endangered Owls of Madagascar

Alan van Norman, a neurosurgeon from Bismarck, North Dakota, spends much of his spare time traveling the world to photograph owls. In November 2014, he excitedly boarded a flight destined for some remote Indian Ocean islands off the east coast of Africa. Not only did he want to find and photograph the Madagascan Red Owl, a Barn Owl look-alike except for its overall red-tinged coloration, but he also wanted to try and photograph some of the tiny owlets endemic to even more remote parts of this planet: the various forested islands of the Comoros archipelago. These volcanic islands lie between…

Champions of the Flyway Part II: The Lay of the Land

This is part two in a series of blog posts about the Champions of the Flyway event. A staggering 2,500,000 birds are illegally hunted, trapped and killed on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus each year. Birders from all over the globe are coming together to make a difference during Champions of the Flyway: a bird race that is making a difference. March 25, 2015 was the second annual Champions of the Flyway race. International teams of birders tried to see (or hear) as many species of birds as possible, all the while trying to find as many donors as they possibly could to…

Contrasting & Comparing Big Years

The movie “The Big Year” brought the concept of seeing as many birds as possible in a single year to the attention of many for the first time, but hardcore birders have known about these events and have been taking up the challenge for as long as I remember. In the movie, the contestants had limited themselves to the confines of a specific geographic area defined by the American Birding Association which is essentially the United States and Canada. It’s an enormous undertaking, considering the amount of territory in question and the difficulties at reaching the most remote corners of the…