Thursday 18 October 2012
Fifty Places to go Birding Before You Die
I hope Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die will change my life. I would love to think that I'll get to visit all 50 places, but that does seem a bit of an impossible dream. A remote but lush valley in New Guinea, the distant Arctic vistas of Greenland and the exotic isolation of Bhutan do make for a wonderful wish list of travel destinations though. It's going to be expensive as well as challenging to get to all 50 places!
Someone has kindly put the full list online here. Heavily Amerocentric, rather disappointingly 24 of the 50 places are in the United States. Which is a bit much I think. Only two locations in Australia, versus 24 in the US. Basically nowhere in Western Europe, well two on the edges. Tarifa in Spain, which is at the very tip, overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, and Cley Next the Sea, in Norwich, England. While Tarifa does sound astonishing when you think about it- the chance to watch birds migrating between continents (Africa is less than 10km/6 miles away, and the hills of Morocco are often visible), I'm sure the 400 million folks in Western Europe might enjoy somewhere a bit more convenient too.
Perhaps the most surprising location to me was New York's Central Park. And then just last week I read a great post by Arti over at Ripple Effects about a new documentary called The Central Park Effect! And it seems totally feasible that Central Park acts as a green magnet for many different bird species. Now of course I want to both see the movie, and hit Central Park.
And what of my neck of the woods down here in Australia? Two locations here- the Capertee Valley- a mere two hours from my home, I've driven through but never stopped for birding, and Bruny Island off the coast of Tasmania. New Zealand gets a mention of sorts with the imposingly remote Sub-Antarctic Islands. Happily I'm a frequent visitor to New Zealand, and I'm optimistic that this might be possible one day. New Zealand's birds are quite different to Australia's, so I always get to see something new when I'm there anyway.
So, while it's possibly not perfect, this book is a great reference and will provide years of inspiration for future travels. It's so easy just to look up an individual chapter and read the 3 or 4 pages on each destination. Each chapter has a handy little If You Go section at the end. How to get there (from America), the best time of year to visit, and a couple of suggestions for local bird guides if they exist. I hope to need to consult it often.