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How far do birders walk?

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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 14:23   #1
John Cantelo
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How far do birders walk?

I recently got a copy of the excellent "Birding Tourist's Guide Mallorca" and browsing through it I found several longish walking itineraries (up to 20 km/12.5 miles). I rather doubt, however, that more than a very small % of birders would ever complete walks of such length. In my experience, I'd say that although they may clock up more miles in a day few birders are willing to embark on walks of such length with most infrequently straying much more than a couple of miles from their vehicle. What do others think?
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 15:11   #2
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My patch in Russia would see me cover between 5-10km daily.

It's a 'there and back' route, not circular so how far I go, depends on what I find to hold my interest. On days where there's lots to see, I might only go 3km, other days when I don't see much, I'll walk 5km out and 5km back.
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 15:13   #3
peter.jones
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I don't mind a long walk. But heavy gear, heat, terrain, would put me off such distances in somewhere like Majorca.
Ask yourself, is there any species in (west) Europe that you need to walk 10km from the car to see?

After a while in those conditions, most of us would be thinking survival as opposed to focussed on birding!
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 15:17   #4
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A few years ago i did upcountry Gambia via bush taxis and did a lot of walking as i have no transport. But on European trips i may well walk quite far, if all my daily stops are added up. But yes i do not seem to stray so far from the hire car.
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 15:18   #5
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It depends on how much time and energy you have, and the terrain and weather of course. I've occasionally done walks of up to 20 km and possibly more, but that takes the better part of a day, and it's not something I'd do every weekend. Depending on the route, it can be worth it, as you might find a few additional species you'd miss if simply zooming from one "hot spot" to another with a car (I've gotten ~100 bird species on a walk here in my state once, at this time of year). Plus, a long trek can offer more scenic views of the landscape and it's obviously more environmentally friendly than birding by car. That said, I wouldn't do it if the landscape were boring or if I had to walk along a busy road for longer stretches.


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Originally Posted by peter.jones View Post
Ask yourself, is there any species in (west) Europe that you need to walk 10km from the car to see?
Yes, if you don't have a car, or if you don't want to use one because it wouldn't be economically viable.


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After a while in those conditions, most of us would be thinking survival as opposed to focussed on birding!
Can't say I've ever been to Majorca, but I'd imagine the weather to be milder during the winter?

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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 15:24   #6
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It depends on how much time and energy you have, and the terrain and weather of course. I've occasionally done walks of up to 20 km and possibly more, but that takes the better part of a day, and it's not something I'd do every weekend. Depending on the route, it can be worth it, as you might find a few additional species you'd miss if simply zooming from one "hot spot" to another with a car (I've gotten ~100 bird species on a walk here in my state once, at this time of year). Plus, a long trek can offer more scenic views of the landscape and it's obviously more environmentally friendly than birding by car. That said, I wouldn't do it if the landscape were boring or if I had to walk along a busy road for longer stretches.
This. Plus, with only two days out of seven to exploit, and trying to maximise return, targeted stops making the most of road mobility just make a better day. I do increasingly try to make sure I cover some ground (not sitting on my backside in hides) for exercise purposes.

Its not just about cars though. A good example would be that when I go to Scotland, if the chairlift is running at Glen Shee I will go up on that for Mountain Hare and Ptarmigan rather than walk. Depending how the result goes at the top, I might ride down or walk down.

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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 16:58   #7
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No car here, but I'd use a bike for birding distances like that, not foot
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 17:04   #8
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I use my bicycle to explore my local countryside. I can whip down country roads, and bridle paths, take short cuts over river footbridges, etc. I don't have to worry about parking a car (and leaving it unattended).
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 17:55   #9
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Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
I found several longish walking itineraries (up to 20 km/12.5 miles). I rather doubt, however, that more than a very small % of birders would ever complete walks of such length.
I do that sometimes, especially in the mountains. It is then rather a mix of hiking and birding. Birds density being lower in the mountains, the best strategy is to have a good walk and cover a large area and range of habitats. Perhaps the walks in your Mallorca book are meant in the same spirit?

Otherwise, be it at European wetlands or in Asian forests, the pace of walking for birding is much slower, and covering more than 10 km is rare for me.

My favorite lakeside area is quite spread out, and I usually use a bicycle, making around 35 km in a day (including a few km from the train station to the site).
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 22:04   #10
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In Majorca, I guess, there are scenic hikes which people do anyway, and watch birds along the way.

I personally often walk over 20km a day, but I like hiking and watch birds as a second priority. Technically, if I wanted to maximize birding, I might for example, instead of hiking 20km across the mountains, take a ski lift, twitch Alpine Accentor and Water Pipit from the mountaintop cafe, and take a ski lift back. But it is not the point.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 00:42   #11
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The distance will surely vary with the individual and their patch.
Here in NYC for example, the usual morning tour of Central Park will be 6-8 km, including the Ramble and Reservoir. A full loop will be 12-15 km, but that takes much of the day, especially during migration season.
Surprisingly, the distances covered during organized birding trips are much less, typically under 5 km. Presumably the organizers try to avoid putting less healthy participants at too much of a disadvantage.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 01:02   #12
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I think of my birding in terms of hours spend rather than miles covered. I recently spent six hours and identified 76 species. Exhausting. But I didn't cover more than three miles.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 03:34   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
I recently got a copy of the excellent "Birding Tourist's Guide Mallorca" and browsing through it I found several longish walking itineraries (up to 20 km/12.5 miles). I rather doubt, however, that more than a very small % of birders would ever complete walks of such length. In my experience, I'd say that although they may clock up more miles in a day few birders are willing to embark on walks of such length with most infrequently straying much more than a couple of miles from their vehicle. What do others think?
I don't even think I am a birder ..... I just like to know what I'm seeing /get a feel for the health of the place /watch certain birds like raptors/ or see if I can discover a rarity for the area/season, or just wander about my favourite bit of country /say g'day to some tree spirit elders etc.

I've certainly walked more than 20k at a time, but that was in the Himalayas etc - and the need to make the next village before sunset and way below sub-zero temperatures was a pressing motivation !

I tend to think in terms of a couple of hours, or a half day, or making it to a certain part of the river etc - that could be not very far / as far as I can get half way in that time / or just far enough ! ..... sometimes it might consist of a half hour walk each way and several hours laying down in the sun by a river, on a rock, or whatever :)

Sometimes I might scale the stairs down a mountain to the valley floor and then stay long enough until I can psyche myself up for the climb back out /end of the water rations etc ! :) Sometimes I don't even know where I am going or for how long .... which is not surprising to me, since I've got thoughts I haven't even thought of yet !!

If I was going on 20k bird watching hikes I would definitely want nothing more than a Swaro 8×32 SV and a Sony RX-10 V (and they haven't even invented that one yet ! :)

For me it's about enjoyment /wonder - not listing (though I do like to id a patch /season /event (flood etc) etc .......... :)





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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 06:54   #14
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I do that sometimes, especially in the mountains.
Not in the Himalayas you wouldn't!

We averaged 12km per day over 5 weeks and covered 350km in very tough, steep up, steep down, terrain including passing over the Thorong La pass at 5400m, toughest birding I've ever done.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 06:56   #15
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I do that sometimes, especially in the mountains.
Not in the Himalayas you wouldn't!

We averaged 12km per day over 5 weeks and covered 300km in very tough, steep up, steep down, terrain.

Quote of the trip came from our porter who when asked what a distant 6000m peak was called, answered , 'it has no name, that's just a hill'.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 07:05   #16
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We are not dedicated birders, more nature generalists. On Mallorca we walked from Porto Pollensa to the northern coast through the Boquer Valley about 30 years ago and that was a round distance of about 8km and a walk we regularly do now on North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland is about the same distance. Sometimes we set off to do this walk but get diverted by flowers, insects, seals, otters, whatever, and only do half the distance. For us the walk is not a goal in itself, it is what we see along the way, and what we see can often totally change our plan for the day.

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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 08:22   #17
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We are not dedicated birders, more nature generalists. On Mallorca we walked from Porto Pollensa to the northern coast through the Boquer Valley about 30 years ago and that was a round distance of about 8km and a walk we regularly do now on North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland is about the same distance. Sometimes we set off to do this walk but get diverted by flowers, insects, seals, otters, whatever, and only do half the distance. For us the walk is not a goal in itself, it is what we see along the way, and what we see can often totally change our plan for the day.

Lee
Exactly the same with me.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 08:36   #18
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I have walked Gunung Gede (2958 MASL) on Java up and down in a day, that is around 20 kms and 1700 meters up (and obviously down) in a day.
I have also walked from a bit east from the abra de Portachuelo (4700 MASL) beyond the Lagunas de Llanguanuco (3800 MASL) in central Peru, because we couldn't find a single vehicle to take us down to Yungay, until well after dark a truck finally passed by! That was around 35 kms with sideway birding walks included, at an average altitude of more than 4000 meters. Breathtaking landscapes included!
During lowland birding / flatland birding, I often do around 30.000 steps a day. This would be around 30km if hiking, but ofcourse, while birding, you sometimes take small steps or just move a bit on the spot.

I only do this when I have to, because you obviously walk past good birds during such walks...
But sometimes, you are better up the mountain at first light for e.g. parakeets (Santa Marta), Volcano Swiftlet (Gede), striped babblers (Philippines). And if there is no road going there, you start at 3-4 in the morning and at first light you often have walked 10kms and done something around 750 vertical meters. The last couple of years, more and more rental cars are involved in my birding, and sadly, it takes away some of the walking. But I try to do as much walking as possible (and necessary) because it's a good way to keep you fit.

I am already looking forward to walk towards some Striped Babblers, Sillem's Mountain-finch, Snow Mountain Robin,...
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 14:17   #19
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Not in the Himalayas you wouldn't!

We averaged 12km per day over 5 weeks and covered 350km in very tough, steep up, steep down, terrain including passing over the Thorong La pass at 5400m, toughest birding I've ever done.
To be completely accurate - you probably averaged 23km per day ..... 12km up 45° slopes and 11km down 45° slopes for a net gain of 1km up !

Trail building surveyors only had one angled tool available to them during construction ........ 45° !!!!!





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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 14:24   #20
Chosun Juan
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Unhappy Just like "Lord of the Flies" .....

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Not in the Himalayas you wouldn't!

.... Quote of the trip came from our porter who when asked what a distant 6000m peak was called, answered , 'it has no name, that's just a hill'.
What a sad development for the human race .......
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyt...eaths.amp.html

One of the fondest memories of my life was walking through the Himalayas completely alone without another human being in sight in any direction to the horizon, and enveloped in complete silence .....




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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 14:24   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by temmie;3853666[B
]I have walked Gunung Gede (2958 MASL) on Java up and down in a day, [/b]that is around 20 kms and 1700 meters up (and obviously down) in a day.
I have also walked from a bit east from the abra de Portachuelo (4700 MASL) beyond the Lagunas de Llanguanuco (3800 MASL) in central Peru, because we couldn't find a single vehicle to take us down to Yungay, until well after dark a truck finally passed by! That was around 35 kms with sideway birding walks included, at an average altitude of more than 4000 meters. Breathtaking landscapes included!
During lowland birding / flatland birding, I often do around 30.000 steps a day. This would be around 30km if hiking, but ofcourse, while birding, you sometimes take small steps or just move a bit on the spot.

I only do this when I have to, because you obviously walk past good birds during such walks...
But sometimes, you are better up the mountain at first light for e.g. parakeets (Santa Marta), Volcano Swiftlet (Gede), striped babblers (Philippines). And if there is no road going there, you start at 3-4 in the morning and at first light you often have walked 10kms and done something around 750 vertical meters. The last couple of years, more and more rental cars are involved in my birding, and sadly, it takes away some of the walking. But I try to do as much walking as possible (and necessary) because it's a good way to keep you fit.

I am already looking forward to walk towards some Striped Babblers, Sillem's Mountain-finch, Snow Mountain Robin,...
You're going some to average 1m strides unless you're very tall?

Altitude is different to walking on the level as there are birds up there that unless you go there, you won't see them.

Gunung Gede isn't a tough walk, I think the SM Robin is almost as tough as it gets though from what I've read.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 15:15   #22
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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post

One of the fondest memories of my life was walking through the Himalayas completely alone without another human being in sight in any direction to the horizon, and enveloped in complete silence .....
Chosun
I'm just back home after a six-hour birding (would have been shorter if the snow hadn't covered the track that I've only done once, 9 years ago!) morning here in a 'popular' area of the Alps and had a similar human-free walk, birds of quality not quantity with just 32 species seen or heard and close encounters with Chamois, Marmot, Ibex and Brown Hare too - bliss
Not silent as there was plenty of birdsong, which unfortunately didn't include that elusive Rock Partridge
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 15:24   #23
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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
What a sad development for the human race .......
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nyt...eaths.amp.html

One of the fondest memories of my life was walking through the Himalayas completely alone without another human being in sight in any direction to the horizon, and enveloped in complete silence .....




Chosun
When were you there and on which trek?

We were late in the season (Jomson and Annapurna), mid December and though numbers were well down from the peak, there were still plenty of people around and we weren't alone very often if at all.
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 16:12   #24
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When were you there and on which trek?

We were late in the season (Jomson and Annapurna), mid December and though numbers were well down from the peak, there were still plenty of people around and we weren't alone very often if at all.
I was there in '95 for 2 months Dec and Jan. About a month around Everest region with 3 friends (flew in to Lukla on a leaky [fuel line - inside !] orange Sirkorsky and walked from there). Had a buffalo steak on the first night and woke up with a stomach like I was 9 months pregnant ! Didn't eat any meat after that but a bit of chicken here and there - lost 15 kilos ! came back with an 8 pack !

Beautiful mountains and people. Memorable for nearly dying of AMS, hallucinogenic visions, lammergeiers the size of Cessna's (that probably kicked off my love of raptors in earnest then :), and the 3 Americans who hadn't washed in 3 months who stayed at the same 'lodge' (someone's house with 30 people in it !) as us at Gorak Shep after the entire village below was wiped out in an Avalanche - jeezas ! The stink !!

Saw an avalanche go off on Everest - and the 'explosion' was that loud I thought the Pakis were shelling us !

Also saw the wonderful Sherpas rescue a 95kg woman and carry her down icy tracks for miles and miles. Huge party when they came back to the village late at night - much singing and dancing ! The kids loved it as they re-enacted the rescue !

Then went over to the Annapurna region by myself - on a very tight schedule - trekked long days - that's where I experienced the solitude and felt Mother Nature's arms around me - up near Jarkot or Kag Beni I think .... took a wrong turn one day and nearly ended up in Tibet ! There were a few trekkers along the way but none could keep up with me.

Memorable for wandering into a high village one night at about 9pm (after trekking toward that distant sight all day and into sunset). Having 3 dozen kids gather around me like I was Gulliver ! Stayed with a family watching Bollywood films on a black and white TV with Nepalese sub-titles ..... they were thoroughly amazed when I told them the exact plot just before it unfolded at each step despite not understanding either language ! Haha clichéd plot lines !

Beautiful country - I believe there's sealed roads reaching way up into the mountains now which is really really sad .......

Also went to Royal Chitwan and nearly got charged by a Rhino, and eaten by Crocs, and a Tiger. Had a Leopard jump onto the grass roof of my hut in a village one night - holy sh*t have you ever tried to stop your own heart from beating because the noise was deafening !!

Didn't feel the need to travel for 15 years after that - best holiday in the world ! Would like to see the Gaudi church in Spain one day though :)





Chosun

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Old Tuesday 28th May 2019, 08:13   #25
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I'm sure there are numerous occasions when I've walked all day between birding sites, in some cases while birding along the way. And other times when it's taken all day to walk to a birding site and back. These tend to be places where you think of distance in time rather than kilometres.
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