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Best, Worst, Next! Birding days (1 Viewer)

Had.enough

Registered User
Supporter
How about a thread of happy, and not so happy memories!!
I'll go first..

First birding experience: Leighton Moss, with Otter and Marsh Harrier, 1989
Best birding day: finding a Bee eater at Portland, seeing twitchers heading to the obs to twitch it, as I left. 1994? Or any of my days in Goa
Worst birding day: probably during a family holiday, in Luxembourg, so much nice habitat, but saw absolutely nothing.
Best trip : Kenya, Goa or Tandayapa, Ecuador
Worst trip; Spanish Pyrenees and Zaragoza area. Great birds, but just wasn't happy on that trip, on my own.
Where would you most like to return: Bay of Biscay ferry perhaps, Swiss Alps,
Next trip: goodness knows! But hopefully a spectacular one!

Feel free to add other categories
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
See if I can kick start the grey matter here.

1st birding experience would have been in the 70 ‘S with my old man. Can’t remember exactly but probably looking for Red Kites around Llyn Brianne or down Whiteford Point.

Best Birding Day If purely for species I’d say a trip out of Penzance - Cory’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s Petrels etc. Reality is I still love birding with my old man and if my 10 year old is along all the better.

Worst Birding Day Haven’t really got any. Dipped on a Spotted Crake in Slimbridge (which would have been a lifer) due to an individual talking really loudly about the cost of bus fares! Could feel my blood pressure rising. Also the Blue Rock Thrush in a Gloucestershire housing estate was a bit empty.

Best Trip Any trip to Scotland.

Worst trip All good

Most like to return to BC and Alberta. I’d love to go back to Bella Coola

Next trip Hopefully to the Outer Hebs and Cairngorms in May.

Rich
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
First birding experience: Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1970 - my first willow tit is an enduring memory; my very first birding memory is my adoptive father pointing out a blue tit on the roof gutter as a small child
Best birding day: Jardin / Ventanas, 2019 just shades it; Havergate Island (1973), Bharatpur (1982), my first pelagic trip from Sagres (2016) and Miyake-jima / Izu ferry (2018) all memorable
Worst birding day: Teesmouth this New Year's Day was pretty miserable
Best trip : Haven't been on many dedicated birding trips, but Hokkaido in winter was pretty special
Worst trip; Haven't had a terrible birding trip; my worst ever holiday was a trip to Mull, but that had nothing to do with the birds....
Where would you most like to return: Difficult- love to go back to Portugal (maybe permanently!), Japan (in spring next time) and Colombia
Next trip: East Lothian, if its allowed by the spring
3 favourite reserves: RSPB Leighton Moss; La Sauge, Cudrefin (Switzerland); Rio Formosa (Portugal)
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
First birding experience: Summer plumaged Snow Buntings on top of Ben Nevis were the first birds that I independently thought "what's that?" and photographed to get an answer from my Mum later.
Best birding day: Impossible! But if I must, finding a spring male Citrine Wagtail at Fleet Pond, May 1993. Fantastic bird and seen and appreciated by a lot of people.
Worst birding day: A day twitch for a female Steller's Eider at Burghead, from Farnborough. Obviously a very very long day: weather absolutely awful from start to finish, bird gone - and then when we were fifty miles down-range on the way home a pager report that it had been refound. We had backtracked North for half the distance when the "erroneous" message came through. Literally the only saving grace was a dude asking whether there were any Crossbills in the harbour at Burghead and in the face of our absolute bafflement remembering he meant Razorbills.
Best trip: Two weeks on Scilly in October 1985: ticks turning up faster than I could tick them off, several three-tick days strung together, 21 lifers in a fortnight - many of them Yanks - great company, great birds, great fun.
Worst trip; Haven't really had a bad trip, most trips have a day when you work really hard for not much result but that's all.
Where would you most like to return: Kruger or Etosha.
Next trip: Realistically, Shetland this autumn. Once the world settles down, a whole lot of foreign birding/mammaling planned.
3 favourite reserves: Titchwell, Pennington area, Kruger.

John
 

Had.enough

Registered User
Supporter
Excellent, enjoying reading all these replies. The Razorbill/Crossbill reminds me of going to the site in Norway for breeding lesser white fronted goose, and a (Dutch?) birder telling me there were spoonbills there as I walked to the viewpoint. I think that got lost in translation to be the Geese.
I was happy, because I do kind of get a kick out of "finding" them, even if they are known to be there, as opposed to being spoon-fed!
 

Mikewander

Active member
Scotland
Best birding day. I can't remember the exact day, but it was in the late '90s. I was out hillwalking in Scotland, and was following a faint trail. As i came around a huge boulder, a Golden Eagle was sitting on the trail about 8-10ft away eating a hare. It just looked at me for a second or two, then slowly lifted into the air. It didn't seem to be in any hurry. I actually felt the breeze from its wings as it lifted with a whoosh, whoosh into the air. I can still picture it staring at me with those huge bright eyes. I've had eagles soaring 20 feet from me on a mountain ridge, and seen hundreds over the years, but i'll never forget the day that one sat there looking at me with those intelligent eyes and no sense of fear from it.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
First birding experience: The one I most remember was when I made the mistake of disturbing a Tawny Owl nest in Glasgow (Cowglen Golf Club) when I was 13. The female bird attacked me and gave me a good scratching around the face. I never bothered an Owl at the nest again.
Best birding day: Really difficult but between, time at Angel Paz's place in Mindo, Day at Riviere Bleue on New Caledonia or Varieta on PNG.
Worst birding day: Day on South Georgia where we couldn't even land to see Penguin and Albatross colonies as planned and we had two days on board in the worst seas we have ever experienced.
Best trip: Colombia ending with trip up to Santa Marta. Most total birds and most lifers.
Worst trip; Tunisia over 30 years ago we had not done much independent birding abroad at that point and not a lot went right for us.
Where would you most like to return: Colombia or Brazil.
Next trip: Where ever we can get away to when things open up.
3 favourite reserves: Leighton Moss, Kruger NP and Montezuma (Tatama NP) Colombia .
 
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Britseye

Well-known member
Some of the categories are too difficult for me to pare down to a straightforward answer but a few I can perhaps manage easily. Earliest birding memory is being enchanted by the sounds of Song Thrush singing as I lay awake at 5am as a six or seven year-old child, though not sure I would have identified it as such at the time. My best birding day is one of those impossible to answer questions since there are too many candidates (especially in North America) - though I could certainly make a case for a day that included a visit to Angel's place at Mindo, as mentioned by David above. Displaying Cock of the Rock, point-blank Antpittas coming to worms, many Hummers including Empress Brilliant, Swallow-tailed Kite, day-roosting Common Potoo etc.

My 'worst-ever day' springs easily to mind and that was the Saturday 'dip' of the Cley/Blakeney Slender-billed Gull pair in May 1987. For about two-years prior to that I'd pretty much had unlimited freedom to go for any bird anywhere in the country at the drop of a hat and those gulls were my first taste of work-induced first- (and, in this case, second -) day absence and a very bitter taste it was at that.

Where would I most like to return? Well, basically, having only just plucked up the courage to learn to snorkel at age 50 I would probably like to return to those places - the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, the Thai islands in the Andaman Sea - where I simply sat on the beach and watched enviously as my mates splashed up and down marvelling at the variety of colours on display underneath them. And for some strange reason I can't quite put my finger on, even though I saw a load of them in Nepal back in 1989, I really want to see Little Pratincole again one of these days.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
First Birding Experience: A few days tent camping in the Okavango with a couple guides. I wasn't officially a birder, but my guides were into birds and I learned to appreciate them. We also saw a Pel's Fishing Owl although I had no idea at the time how good a sighting that was.
Best Birding Day: Probably the day we rode down the Pantaneira into the Pantanal. My first day birding in Brazil. So many new birds plus lots of other wildlife
Worst Birding Day: The day I double-sprained my knee on a trail on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. I had to sit in the mud in the rain for an hour attracting leeches before help could arrive with a stretcher and carry me down the mountain. After that they put me in the back of van to take me to the ER in Ranau. It spoiled the whole trip.
Best Trip: Kenya. 560 species / 440 lifers. And it ended with wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara.
Worst Trip: Borneo. Not only the injury, but a very divided tour between the hyper intense and the slower paced (which I became by default).
Where would I like to go back to: Colombia. Borneo. Too many places.
Next trip: Uncertain. I'm signed up for a whole bunch of trips, most of which were rescheduled from last year, but who knows which one will even go ahead.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Like others here, it's hard for me to nail down a single "best", but here we go

First Birding Experience: A study abroad in Kenya focused on behavior of African Mammals when I was 22. I liked birds and even brought a bird guide, but I wasn't quite a real birder at that point. That experience (especially all the innumerable birds I missed!) motivated me to get more seriously into the hobby
Best Birding Day: Hard to really narrow down one. Me running around a park in San Diego trying to get as many people as possible on a Thick-billed Kingbird; Taking a breather on a trail in Arizona only to have my lifer Elegant Trogon land on a branch in front of me. My first trip to Magee Marsh in Ohio. All great memories
Worst Birding Day: Well, the day I got my car stuck in an icy driveway in the mountains of just sucked. I also have to make mention of the time I was driving in Anza Borrego one early morning and was going a bit too fast. My car hit a patch of windblown sand and I spun out into the desert. Expensive car bill, plus in my shell-shocked state a local pastor came around and proceeded to lecture me that if I had died I would have gone to hell. Although in hindsight that is more one of the weirdest days of birding as much as it is worst
Best Trip: Looking back, probably the birding trip to SE Arizona with my friend Carlos. I don't recall us really seeing anything super rare, but I managed a pretty good sweep of the summer Arizona birds and probably wracked up about 20 or more lifers.
Worst Trip: You know, I don't think I have had a truly terrible trip (yet), versus bad days. Probably the closest may have been camping in Rio Grande Bentsen State Park in LATE MAY....which was an excruciating experience. Even then though, it was my first visit to the Valley so I managed to get a ton of lifers, even if I had to take multiple showers a day just to thermoregulate.
Where would I like to go back to: Kenya. I want a rematch against all of those larks and LBJs that were beyond my ability at the time, not to mention I hate having critters on my list that predate my formal listing.
Next trip: Well, if a miracle happens and I get a vaccine in time (and my work doesn't decide to schedule a virtual retreat for the the time), I'd like to take a trip to Arizona, Texas, or Florida in March. Not likely however. Beyond that, I am tentatively planning a spring migration trip to the midwest to knock off my last widespread Eastern Warblers. Also, I still have my Panama trip booked and paid for, so that is happening sometime this summer.
 

Euan Buchan

The Edinburgh Birdwatcher
Supporter
Scotland
First Birding Experience Probably at Disney World in 2003. I'm not really into Roller Coasters and fast rides so while the family went on rides I was quite happy watching Rosette Spoonbills that were sometimes seen in the park. The family will ask if I added Donald Duck to my list.
Best Birding Day Been so many but probably seeing my first flock of Wild Flamingoes and Hummingbirds in Cuba.
Worst Birding Day I was once watching Graylag Geese in Musselburgh until a Dog walker let a Dog jump into the water scaring the Geese & Ducks away but I did manage to get a good picture out of it.
Best Trip Has to be on a boat trip to St Kilda I think in 2005. Such a great experience watching all the different seabirds though the guide didn't really know his birds he kept calling a Razorbill a Puffin so I had to correct him. I don't think I'll ever get back to St Kilda again but it was a fantastic place and experience.
Worst Trip It would had to be when I went to The Botanic Gardens and realised my notebook had slipped out my pocket on the bus as I was getting off I was really upset and just went home. I was lucky to have put my address in my notebook if found page and a few days later one amazing person posted it through my letterbox I was really happy and now I'm very careful.
Where Would I Like To Go Back To I would like to go back to Florida and see more of Florida's Birds.
Next Trip Hopefully another trip to The Outer Hebrides as I go up there every year.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
As the rain continues here and I'm looking for a distraction from paperwork, here's my two bits:

First Birding Experience: A Ridgeway's (Clapper) Rail that wandered out of the saltmarsh on a picnic date with a birder, then a few forays to watch ducks and waders to "get started gently" but it didn't take much to turn me from an already enthusiastic naturalist and casual bird observer into a dedicated birder.
Best Birding Day: Birding solo in Plataforma, putting up with calf deep mule piss reeking mud trails to see Scarlet-banded Barbet as well as Yellow-throated Spadebill, Roraima Flycatcher, Foothill Schiffornis, and several other excellent birds. Then continuing further into the forest on a use trail I found and hearing, recording, and luring out what would come to be known as Cordillera Azul Antbird.
Worst Birding Day: Hard to say! The boat trip from hell from Moheli to Anjouan for a barely tickable naked eye flyby Moheli (Persian) Shearwater while fearing for our lives and getting soaked, bruised, sunburned, and exhausted - this certainly qualifies. The 20+ hours of 4 of us + driver + two guards crammed into a small Nissan SUV on 4WD tracks to get to the Tsingy Wood-Rail would qualify but the return trip was far worse. After our driver drowned the car in a water crossing, we finally rid ourselves of our beyond useless mandatory guards, and crammed into a Landcruiser as passengers 13,14,15,16 for the final 15 hrs of the return. I had a woman dry heaving into a plastic bag essentially on my lap for the entire trip. That also qualifies. Not sure I can beat those two days.
Best Trip: No contest here. Nearly 5 years driving, camping, and birding from Tijuana to Ushuaia. Western + Northern Cape + Namibia and the Atlantic Odyssey are runners up.
Worst Trip: No real worst trip, just a handful of less than awesome experiences along the way.
Where would I go back: Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, ZA, Namibia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and a lot more!
Next trip: Logistics / pandemic allowing, I will need to return to Buenos Aires in a few months and again, conditions permitting, would like to tack on two weeks or so in Minas Gerais and surrounds. There's also the temptation of a trip to the Cocos Islands but it might be difficult w/ current conditions. In the meanwhile just exploring around Switzerland as weather allows!
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Also, I still have my Panama trip booked and paid for, so that is happening sometime this summer.

I hope it works out for you! Panamá was my first major birding trip - I still remember studying the guide and learning new groups of birds and thinking things out like "Ok, Euphonias will be like Goldfinches - small, high up, high twittery songs." I've been back to Panamá since, and loved it again the second time. And I hope to tack a week or so onto another future trip again to go to Cerro Hoya.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Worst Trip It would had to be when I went to The Botanic Gardens and realised my notebook had slipped out my pocket on the bus as I was getting off I was really upset and just went home. I was lucky to have put my address in my notebook if found page and a few days later one amazing person posted it through my letterbox I was really happy and now I'm very careful.
Glad you got it back Euan.

To all notebook users out there: always, always, always put your contact details in your notebook. I've left two in phone boxes over the years (remember them?) and got both back very quickly because the contact details were in them.

The other thing to note is that there are more good people out there than we sometimes think!

John
 

Euan Buchan

The Edinburgh Birdwatcher
Supporter
Scotland
Glad you got it back Euan.

To all notebook users out there: always, always, always put your contact details in your notebook. I've left two in phone boxes over the years (remember them?) and got both back very quickly because the contact details were in them.

The other thing to note is that there are more good people out there than we sometimes think!

John
You’re absolutely right John. There are good people out there, I was in tears when I got it back as got lots of bird records inside my notebooks are very priceless to me.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
First birding experience: While not true birding, I remember when I was a little kid and my parents showing me American Flamingos in the Pedraplen Causeway of Cayo Coco. But the first real experience was when I was in Matanzas with my mom and brother coming back from a trip to Havana and we stopped at a city park, I vividly remember noticing and being very happy to see a Cuban Green Woodpecker, especially since at that time I had only seen birds like those in books. Didn't start birding seriously until my last year of high school in 2014 though.
Best birding day: Very subjective, I could point out my day in El Valle on my weekend trip to Panama or maybe one April fallout in the Dry Tortugas which is honestly a spectacle that reminds me why that's my favorite hotspot in Florida, though I haven't been able to visit in a while. Favorite spot nearby belongs to a good day around the Flamingo Area of Everglades National Park, in a good day you can get anything from 60-80 species in the region including many of the Everglades specialties.
Worst birding day: This one is not as hard as others, because even though it did not affect me directly and we were able to salvage it, during my 2019 trip to Oregon, the room of the guide was ransacked during breakfast by what looked to be hotel staff. They were never caught, but the trip was nearly cancelled because of it and the local guide almost had to consider retiring from this career because of how much he lost (camera, laptop, bins, and all of the credit cards), the other guide lost too (but thankfully it was only his camera and passport). The day ended well but because of the events, no chance of seeing Common Poorwill and Flammulated Owl was given.
Best trip: Despite the horrible experience listed above, the Oregon trip is still by best birding trip because it is so far my only trip that was 100% about the birds, and being able to see my first (Tufted) Puffins, Trumpeter Swans, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Golden Eagle, and Wrentit alongside a few 80-90+ lifers made it a great experience.
Worst trip: Georgia, while the vacation itself was good and seeing some cool places with my family like the Georgia Aquarium and the Coca Cola Museum. The birding left much to be desired even though we were in prime birding habitat in the mountains. Knowing my only lifer of the trip was a quick glimpse while moving on a raft and the other was heard only around the cabin only makes the experience more frustrating since I haven't had a chance to connect with either species since!
Where would you most like to return: From the ones I've visited, it would be Panama, one weekend does not do justice to this beautiful country that is full of specialties from both Central and South America.
Next trip: Well, my trip to Ecuador had to be cancelled due to changes once again to air travel in the US and my summer trip to Montana met the same fate but due to the lack of accommodations that were willing to give the money back in case of Covid cancellations. So right now, I can only hope my plans to visit Arizona in August go through as that is the last place in the US that I can imagine getting more than 50 lifers in one trip.
3 favourite reserves: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (breeding swans, ducks and phalaropes, alongside thousands of songbirds and shorebirds, plus the visitor center is home to a breeding Great Horned Owls and a great migrant trap), and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (wintering waterfowl, seawatching and Florida Scrub-Jays), and Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area (Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and other pineland specialties, Northern Bobwhite and King Rail)
 
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