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


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First birding experience: Not absolutely sure it was the first, but I vividly remember being taken to see the sea bird colonies at South Stack on Anglesey.
Best birding day: So many to choose from that its hard to pluck one day out. Watching the trees dripping with exhausted migrants fresh in at High island, Texas would take some beating.
Worst birding day: I think coming back down the river Gambia with food poisoning after dipping Northern Carmine Bee-eater was a low point.
Best trip: From a birding perspective, I think Ghana probably just about has it in terms of numbers and overall experience.
Worst trip: Despite some great birds, Cameroon did not live up to expectations, between the weather, political issues and military interventions, too many target bird missed.
Where would you most like to return: I've done Cuba and Sri Lanka as non-birding trips and really want to go bird the hell out of them
Next trip: I have some ideas, but it's going to depend on where I can get to with all the current restrictions.
3 favourite reserves: Excluding some great places mentioned above, I'd include Spurn of course, so many good birds over the years; a winter day out at Rutland water and whenever I go see my dad in Spain, I always make sure to visit Cabo de Gata.


Well-known member
LI 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

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.

I think coming back down the river Gambia with food poisoning after dipping Northern Carmine Bee-eater was a low point.
This thread demands a compilation of 'worst birding experiences'! And we wonder why non-birders sometimes think we are crazy...


Well-known member
First birding experience: Age 4 or 5 watching displaying Great crested grebe at a local lake through my fathers binoculars. I still remember the first time I saw the weed dance, and I make sure to spend some watching this ritual every year.
Best birding day: In the UK I've been lucky to witness some amazing falls, and enjoyed some great passage and finding the odd bird at my old local patch (Cheddar reservoir). Abroad, either the morning I spent birding the Royal Mile, Budongo or birding from a boat along the Kinabatangan.
Worst birding day: Getting AMS in the Bale mountains. Projectile vomiting, loss of oxygen to the brain and having to be transported to lower levels tied bare conscious to a horse was "unforgettable". Had a couple of attempted muggings in Central America and Africa, and chased by an Orangutan in Indonesia which were all quite frightening...
Worst trip: Any birding trip is great even if you don't see anything - you're birding!
Where would you most like to return: Borneo or Thailand
Next trip: Nothing planned, though I'm hoping our honeymoon in Zambia next year can still go ahead though!
3 favourite reserves: Ham Wall, Budongo Forest, Mount Kinabalu NP


Well-known member
This thread demands a compilation of 'worst birding experiences'! And we wonder why non-birders sometimes think we are crazy...
Not so much in accordance with the first sentence, but certainly in regards to the second one...

My first trip to Israel in March 1989 was a ten-day top-to-bottom hire car affair. We'd pretty much cleaned up on most of what the four of us wanted to see, plus a few additional extras (such as the first WP Grey-headed Gull), leaving only a handful of things missing from our Wanted List. One of these latter birds was Spotted Sandgrouse; and as we drove back towards Tel Aviv from Eilat on our final day, along the Egyptian border, from the passenger seat in the front of the car I thought I saw two individuals of the species whizz across the road in front of us and land out of sight behind some barbed wire fencing off to our right hand side. Stepping out of the car, myself and the driver noticed some triangular warning signs depicting skull and crossbones and the word 'landmines' engraved in English underneath. This caused our two companions to resolutely remain in the backseat of the vehicle, whilst us other two, caught up in the moment, instead ran quickly to the fenced off area and confirmed my suspicions: two Spotted Sandgrouse, our final tick of the trip.

They could have been the final tick of my life. As I watched the Sandgrouse fly off into the distance, I noticed what at first I took to be a lightbulb lying on the hot sand at my feet. Picking it up out of curiosity, I turned it over to see the words (again in English) HAND GRENADE inscribed upon it. The pin was still in it. I was only eighteen years old and extremely unworldly. It so happened the son of my current companion in this sand-covered minefield had developed a recent interest in collecting the undamaged clay pigeon shells at a shooting range near our home in north-east England. Not thinking for a moment how I might explain myself to Israeli customs the next day (!), I turned to my friend to suggest I might take it back as a souvenir, only to find him running back to the car in a crouched manner with his hands clasped to the back of his head, anticipating a sudden explosion any second. Quickly copping on, I replaced the grenade gently onto the sand, photographed it for posterity and made my way back to the car without further incident.

On our flight home the next day, the Israeli Times had a small story about an Arab shepherd who had similarly picked up an unexploded grenade the day before and now bits of him were scattered all over the desert, never to be re-assembled into a living human being ever again.

Come to think of it, it might have been the second Grey-headed Gull for the WP, I don't exactly remember, but other than that every single word of the story is completely true. I like to get it out and tell it at dinner parties now and again when I think the conversation is drifting off too much into small talk.

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