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Bird watching v mammal watching

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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 14:11   #1
James Blake
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Bird watching v mammal watching

Another way of gauging how obsessed you are with birds: how do you rate birds compared to mammals, insects, plants or any other kinds of living things?

In Britain, I spend most of my wildlife watching time looking at birds. They seem an obvious focus here: lots of them, all the year round, with constant changes from month to month and habitat to habitat.

But for me it would be different if I lived somewhere with a bigger, more exciting and more visible range of mammals, for instance. The one time I visited Africa, the birds were just a sideshow (a wonderful sideshow, true) to the elephants etc.

Maybe I'm not a bird obsessive at all...

James
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 14:24   #2
Adey Baker
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Mammals are fine but in the UK, at least, they're a bit hard to get into as there are so few of them and several are nocturnal anyway!

In the summer months I'm just as much interested in butterflies and dragonflies. For one reason, the birds are more difficult, then, what with post-breeding moult, heavy foliage on the trees, etc.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 14:40   #3
Gill Osborne
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I THINK *cos i'm not 100% sure myself LOL* that I'm about 75% birder and 25% everything else!
Always have my bins on me and I'd say the majority of my trips out ARE to go birding...but I've always got my beady eyes open for other aspects of natural history too. Which is why Neil always complains that, especially in the summer, it takes me nearly half a day to walk 100 yards! I'm too busy stopping every few feet to look at a flower or butterfly or some obscure insect....and if I don't immediately know what it is then out comes the notebook & pencil to do a sketch and make notes! It MUST get frightfully boring for him at times LOL
Seeing mammals such as stoats, weasels, deer, foxes, badgers etc...even shrews does give me the most amazing buzz as, compared to birds, they ARE a lot harder to see in the majority of cases.....look at last Thursday at East Chevington. Saw two new bird species, Shag & Twite, but the highlight was a Weasel that was popping in and out of a pile of bricks in front of me! Watched it for a good ten minutes or so...even when I was SUPPOSED to be scanning the field in front of me for those Twite I kept peering over my shoulder to see what the weasel was up to!
As Adey says, birds CAN be a lot quieter in the summer months and that is when I tend to look more at dragonflies and butterflies and try to get to grips with wild flowers...not too good with those!
In general I'd say I'm more of a naturalist than a birder....get distracted far too easily by other life forms to be a birder who has eyes for only birds! Nothing wrong with JUST being interested in birds though...whatever rings your bell I say LOL

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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 15:25   #4
Ronald Zee
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I live in a rather big city and birds are the only wild animals that are around us, but I would love to see other animals as well.

I think I would be very excited if I should see a Fox or a Badger etc, but that is highly unlikely here.

The only other wild animals I see every now and then are hedgehogs, always at night and when I see one I always get off my bicycle to watch it.

What I like about birds is that they are always there, and close to us as well, you can even watch them from your home, in bed or sitting behind the pc (just saw a Duck fly over). But if I could see let's say foxes, I would go and see them as much as possible.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 15:36   #5
Andrew Whitehouse
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I mostly watch birds but in the summer I'm often out looking for other wildlife - butterflies, dragonflies, moths or flowers. I don't often go looking for specifically for mammals but must admit that, even though I see them quite often, dolphins are usually the highlight of a day whatever the birds I see.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 15:38   #6
Brian Stone
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I like to think I enjoy watching all aspects of the natural world, and that includes non-living things too: an interesting rock formation, a shooting star or frosty morning for example. Every now and then you still come across something that is new to you but somehow were unaware of before. It just requires looking at things in a different way.

As others have said, the thing about birds is they are obvious, accessible and dynamic so frequently have the capacity to entertain and provide surprises. So, yes I guess birds do occupy more of my time than any other group of animals. But most times I would probably get more of a buzz out of seeing a sea mammal for example, simply because it is something I encounter relatively rarely and is from a habitat totally alien to me.

For me it is about learning about the world around you. I am constantly finding out about creatures new to me even as locally as the back garden. Having a child helps as well. He was thrilled to see birds up close, especially Nuthatches, as they came to a woodland feeding station near here recently and that added a lot to the experience.

The question was how do you rate birds in relation to other wildlife. I would rate birds alongside other wildlife, but, although the birds provide fewer surprises as time goes by, I expect they will always come first.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 15:58   #7
RockyRacoon
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I am 80% a birder and 20% 'Reptile and Amphibian finder', I think I would probably Reptile and Amphibian 'find' more if there was a greater variety here in Britain
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 15:59   #8
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I suppose I spend a lot of the time watching the voles and the deer.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:06   #9
Edward woodwood
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birds
flowers
odonata
lepdoptera
mammals
fish (snorkelling)
I'm lucky to knock about with a reptile expert too, he always finds snakes and stuff

just about anything is interesting, especially in a strange place. Impossible to get bored.

Tim
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:13   #10
StuartReeves
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On my recent Australia trip I really got in to the mammals and probably put as much effort into looking for them as I did for birds. My trip totals amount to just less then one mammal species seen for every ten bird species. Curiously I have a similar ratio for my UK and US lists too, though in other places the birds would be more dominant.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:13   #11
LSB
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I mostly watch birds, but got into butterflys last year (saw my first Small Copper).I will stop and look at anything Insect, mammal, reptile,plant can still remember the thrill of seeing me first White Beaked Dolphins or finding there were Orchids on my local patch...
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:36   #12
Katy Penland
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I think birds get more attention where I'm living now because they're the most audibly noticeable of the other wildlife we eventually see. When living in southern California, however, I'm on a boat on the ocean as much as I can manage, hoping to see one of the elusive beaked whale species or a sea turtle or a new marine bird of some kind. OTOH, I am fascinated with new bugs I come across in the desert or forest, especially snakes, and wish I could identify a 1/100th of the wildflowers that bloom at various elevations throughout the spring. I can't wait 'til I run across a mountain lion (cougar) in the wild. That would be a real thrill of a lifetime!

I guess I'm pretty much obsessed with anything wild I haven't seen before, whether plant or animal, whether locally or in some exotic place. They're all equally important.
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:44   #13
Gill Osborne
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''just about anything is interesting, especially in a strange place. Impossible to get bored.''

That is it EXACTLY Tim....I feel so sorry for folk who have no interest in the natural world as they have no idea what they are missing out on! And, unfortunately, no sympathy when they complain of being bored!!!

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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 16:48   #14
James Blake
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Perhaps like a lot of people, one thing that stirs me is seeing places where there's a great profusion and variety of living things, where the richness and complexity of the natural world is really apparent.

Such as a grass snake swimming across a pond with warblers in the reeds and several kinds of dragonfly buzzing round the sedges. Or watching gannets swooping down as dolphins cut through the water.

James
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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 18:46   #15
Taryn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Blake
But for me it would be different if I lived somewhere with a bigger, more exciting and more visible range of mammals, for instance.
LOL We not all about the lions and elephants roaming in our back yards! I live in Africa and have only ever seen two of the "Big 5", and that was only in September last year. I have lived here all my 23 years of life as well!

For me it's the same thing others are saying, I love mammals (all types of animals actually) but birds are just the most "accesible" (for lack of a better word!) animals to watch and enjoy.

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Old Wednesday 23rd February 2005, 23:23   #16
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Snow helps to divert attention away from the birds, except for the grouse and the birds at the feeder, and more towards the tracks of mammals. Deer, fox, coyote, hares, rabbits, mice, squirrels, weasles, mink, voles. It's all good. But ya gotta love the spring for head exploding choruses of spring peepers and wood frogs.

Scott
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 00:53   #17
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I've got about 40-ish mammals on my British list, also close to 10% of my bird list

Trouble with mammals is what to count in terms of feral stuff - rabbits presumably OK, goats maybe, what about the Chillingham white cattle?

At least there is one species of mammal that everyone can tick . . . .
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 02:48   #18
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Friends of mine who are involved in "Outdoor Education" of 6th graders in the States often ask the kids how many birds/verse mammals they saw in a day. This, on the school grounds or a visit to a National Park. It is quite amazing just how many species of birds one sees as compared to mammals.

That being said, mammals to me seem almost a surprise when they appear. I've seen some good things in good places and always there's a "Special" quality about a mammal sighting. I think the peak of diversity seen has been in Malaysia. Stunning. One that stands out though is a certain species (that I now forget) of squirrel leaping through the trees at Frasier's actively involved in a bird wave.
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 03:35   #19
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I think everyone seems to be spot on about why birding is so much 'easier'. I am in love with seeing all the different sorts of birds, but I am always so excited even when all I see of another animal is its tracks or poo.
I have planned a trip this spring to the coast and am just as excited about going out on a boat for the pelagic birds as I am in seeing a porpoise or even a mink whale.
I was even excited this last summer to see a rabbit in my neighbor's backyard.

I think, for me, when I see something a little more illusive, I exhale a little knowing that the wild world is still out there and still for the most part in tact.

Elizabeth

So call me 70% for the birds(heh) and 30% for everybody else.
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 08:43   #20
Edward
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuartReeves
On my recent Australia trip I really got in to the mammals and probably put as much effort into looking for them as I did for birds. My trip totals amount to just less then one mammal species seen for every ten bird species. Curiously I have a similar ratio for my UK and US lists too, though in other places the birds would be more dominant.
Ah, remember Stuart those cracking Whiptail Wallabies on the way up to O'Reilly's and the King Parrots in the tree above them? ... Happy days.

I probably live in the country with the greatest paucity of land mammals so mammal watching is not really that fun. Admittedly I have had some great and memorable encounters with both of Iceland's native land mammals, i.e Arctic Fox and Homo sapiens, but there are slim pickings otherwise. We do have a good range of sea mammals and Minke Whales are particularly common off shore. I've also been fortunate to see Blue Whales very close off west Iceland and I know great sites for Killer Whales in summer. Grey and Harbour Seals are easily found too.

I'm sure if I lived in a country where mammals were more obvious, especially somewhere in Africa, then I'd be equally as interested in mammals. I've never totted up how many mammals I've seen in the world but know that I saw three lifers in Singapore and eight in Australia last autumn.

I don't need to worry that much about reptile and amphibian ID here either. There aren't any.

NO. 1 on my mammal wish list - Aye-Aye

E
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 08:52   #21
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Hi Peter,
I would definitely tick the Chillingham White Cattle....always wanted to go and see them and as I now live about, what, five miles away it would be sacrilage not to! Ok, they may just be 'cows' but they're a heck of a lot wilder than any of my landlords heifers LOL
I'd also LOVE to get close to the Cheviot Wild Goats....sure they can't be far from where I now live. I know they can be rather secretive and hard to find but is there anywhere that I can concentrate on looking which would give me a better than average chance of a sighting?

GILL
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 10:06   #22
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I got into Dragonflies after restoring a pond at work approx 10 yrs ago, spend a lot of time watching them in the summer,once the migrants have come back is nice to have something else to look out for.
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 11:33   #23
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I live in the Deep Fork River Basin of the Cimmeron Valley of Oklahoma here in the USA. So we have an abundance of all types of wildlife. We are blessed to live in what is called a bottom land hardwood forrest and spend much of our free time watching all types of animals and birds. We have both deer and bird feeders out our back door and get excited about every thing except skunks, and then we get really excited, LOL.
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 11:48   #24
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[quote=Dumbo Two]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dumbo Two
hi people does anyone know if you can put budgies and love birds in the same aviary together or will they fight.Or am I in the wrong conversation I am new to the chat room.
You're in the wrong place. This is a wildbird forum.
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Old Thursday 24th February 2005, 11:54   #25
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I think that some of the UK people are selling their mammals short. I would love to see a badger or hedgehog. I can only remember seeing a single hedgehog when I was a kid in London. It was a thrill that I still remember. It was in the cemetery on Harrow Road near Kensal Rise. That was about the wildest place I had seen. Ah! Memories!
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