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.


Joy said...

That sounds good. 50 seems like a doable number, if a bit challenging.

Have you read the biography or autobiography of Phoebe Snetsinger, the world record holder for number of birds sighted? She lived the next town over from me and belonged to the same local nature organization although I never met her. I've read her biography but I was just looking up her name for you and discovered there's a memoir that might be even better coverage of the travel and birds.

Joy's Book Blog

Swan Pond said...

Bruny Island is great for lots of reasons...cheese, oysters, chocholate, oh yes there are birds too! My family and I were there in January and we didn't go out of our way to see birds particularly, but no-one needs to. There are plenty around all the time, in number and variety. We did see the fairy penguins and shearwater come in, and also shy albatross. Amazing. I was too busy watching to get a good pic. Also birds follow the Spirit of Tasmania, gannets I think, and I fancy they are relatives of those that Captain Coook saw and knew land was close...

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) said...

That list does seem a little skewed towards the US and is probably a bit subjective. I guess it depends what kinds of birds one is looking for.

I live in the path of the Great Lakes Flyway so I get to see a lot of interesting birds during migration. But I would love to be able to travel specifically to watch birds.

Gillian King said...

My husband and I just spent 4 days birding and biking in the Capertee Valley and loved it! Lots of birds, good biking, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Silence.