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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Birding Goals (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Venezuela is definitely there but I can't imagine it opening any time soon, if anything, it should be a plus that most of the big targets of Venezuela can be seen in Colombia, Guyana or Northern Brazil (even if all of these spots are painful to get to due to how expensive or rustic they can be). But I would be lying if I said that isn't part of the appeal of birding (not the expensive part, that sucks, but at least there's lifers to be had!).

Africa has always been described by a birder I personally know as "the one place that you can go birding and be distracted by almost anything else because you can't not look at an elephant!". So it sounds like a pretty appealing continent when someone who prefers birding the Neotropics talks so highly about it and regrets not visiting it more often.
We did it just before it got REALLY bad, there were still queues for petrol but tourist vehicles were allowed to jump to the front so wans't an issue for us. There were army and police everywhere and barely anything in the shops but it has got much worse since then.

Here's a couple you won't get anywhere else and there are plenty more.
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I am surprised nobody mentioned India, Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, which have been traditional mecca of birdwatchers. All are still good and accessible birding with great culture to throw in. And the infrastructure is getting better and better. Most Asian airlines are of higher standarAttach filesd than U.S. and European ones on the same routes.
In relation to what, being a 'goal' or being an area you've underbirded?
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I like the idea of „Self Found“. Just of curiosity: Where do you draw the line of what counts as self found? I guess a vagrant someone told you can be found at a specific location doesn‘t count but what about more general information like that an area might be good for finding a certain species?
People will have their own answers but I've seen this discussed a few times. Is any bird that you weren't aware of 'self found'? If I went to Bempton RSPB without knowing there was an Albatross there and then saw it, did I find it?

If you go to a site where there is a known population of a scarce bird, let's say Cirl Bunting in the UK, you arrive and see one, is that self found?
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
People will have their own answers but I've seen this discussed a few times. Is any bird that you weren't aware of 'self found'? If I went to Bempton RSPB without knowing there was an Albatross there and then saw it, did I find it?

If you go to a site where there is a known population of a scarce bird, let's say Cirl Bunting in the UK, you arrive and see one, is that self found?
This sort of question is exactly why I can't be bothered with labels like "self-found": in addition I have no difficulty in enjoying a bird someone else found (on any level) and this is my hobby, petty rules are for work.

I made my main goal at 400 in the British Isles - then the next one at 500 - then the next one at 550. I've done the 300 in a year thing (8 times). I started foreign birding too late to do significant numbers and I keep getting distracted by mammals - oh yes. I recently saw my 100th mammal in Europe, a Walrus that was my 78th mammal in the British Isles.

Where was I? Oh yeah, foreign birding: since I'm not building a world list I just enjoy the birds I want to see and build trips around highlights of both birds and mammals. I'm not bothered about numbers so I don't have to see 300 identical morporks on different islands or loads of near-identical bats and rats. All on hold for the moment anyway, might get going again at least to Europe next year.

Good birding everyone and please don't forget to have fun.

John
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
However, this is only in savanna national parks in Eastern and Southern Africa. In much of Africa, all mammals were shot. You see less than in many suburbs of the USA, where there are deer, foxes etc.

I divide places into ones with wildlife generally widespread in the countryside and ones where wildlife is extinct outside national parks or reserves. And ones good for self-birding and ones demanding organized tours. Of course I prefer former to the latter. I discovered that my memories are invariably of places and sightings which I did independently and casually. Even if going with a guide certainly gives you a bit more species,tours are just forgotten, like a last summer movie.

I am surprised nobody mentioned India, Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, which have been traditional mecca of birdwatchers. All are still good and accessible birding with great culture to throw in. And the infrastructure is getting better and better. Most Asian airlines are of higher standarAttach filesd than U.S. and European ones on the same routes.
It definitely helps to be in such countries, however, I have to wonder which places do you consider to be more in the former/self-birding category?

Most of the US is self-birding but only because of the infrastructure, most wild places are either remote or heavily protected (especially around heavily populated areas like California, South Florida or Coastal Texas). I'm wondering what countries do you consider the best for someone to just travel on their own.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
We did it just before it got REALLY bad, there were still queues for petrol but tourist vehicles were allowed to jump to the front so wans't an issue for us. There were army and police everywhere and barely anything in the shops but it has got much worse since then.

Here's a couple you won't get anywhere else and there are plenty more.
Beautiful shots of very hard to find birds, but I have a bias of not wanting to get involved with a country that adopted the same bad policy that my native country (Cuba) took over 50 years ago. Here's hoping some change happens in the next decade or so and the country can go back to normal or at least be more stable than now, not just for the people, but the endangered wildlife in its forests.
 

David_

Well-known member
Germany
This sort of question is exactly why I can't be bothered with labels like "self-found": in addition I have no difficulty in enjoying a bird someone else found (on any level) and this is my hobby, petty rules are for work.
In general I agree with your statement. Still I have to admit that for me going to a location where I know a certain species is present and I just have to wait long enough (or come back a couple of times) is a different feeling than finding an unexpected species on my own.
Maybe I should start a „unexpected finds“ list 😁
please don't forget to have fun
That is the most important part!
 

Pariah

Stealth Birder
I like the idea of „Self Found“. Just of curiosity: Where do you draw the line of what counts as self found? I guess a vagrant someone told you can be found at a specific location doesn‘t count but what about more general information like that an area might be good for finding a certain species?
It's a very old and well covered question at this point. The punk birders did a good set of guidelines 20 years ago or so.


Regards,

Owen
 

KenM

Well-known member
People will have their own answers but I've seen this discussed a few times. Is any bird that you weren't aware of 'self found'? If I went to Bempton RSPB without knowing there was an Albatross there and then saw it, did I find it?

If you go to a site where there is a known population of a scarce bird, let's say Cirl Bunting in the UK, you arrive and see one, is that self found?
I would say yes to the first paragraph and no to the second.

Regarding taking “no prisoners” on a twitch drive...can be fun and hair raising 😮... but it doesn’t compare to finding your own...the endorphin release can last for months!

As far as the topic is concerned, catching up with some of those birds found in previous years...but this time with my camera, as I do lament not having one in my early years.☹️
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
For me, guides and tours have several advantages. For one, I tend to be neurotic, and leaving the logistics of international travel to a guide or tour company allows me to more fully relax, instead of constantly worrying about the next drive or if I got the directions right.

I think there is also an budget aspect to it. Are tours or guides more expensive? Yes. However many of the international trips I might take may be my only opportunity to visit a certain destination. I would rather pay a little more and be confident I will see the birds I want to see, rather than missing a lot of birds and feeling I need to revisit or leaving with a sense of disappointment.

Also, as a single person who has no close "birding" friends in real life, sometimes being by yourself can be kind of...lonely. I like to chat with people about birds at meal times, etc. Dinner time at the Canopy Tower last spring was pretty depressing, as I was the only person dining each night.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I highly recommend you find a local guide for South Florida as well in that case, most of our exotics can be seen in a day's driver around Miami (I actually had a flyover flock of Mitred and Red-masked Parakeets on my way to work this morning). The problem is that the traffic can and will be unbearable, this is especially true for the parakeets since they are divided into different areas of Miami and each area has a prominent set of species, Monk is widespread, but Blue-crowned and White-eyed is best in Miami-Beach, while Red-masked and Yellow-chevroned is guaranteed only in South Miami, etc.

It's a logistical nightmare for most visiting birders since parrots don't stay still unless eating or roosting and they move around a lot within the cities.
Thankfully my one and only visit to the Miami area did get me some exotics, including Spot-breasted Oriole, Common Myna, Egyptian Goose, Mitred Parakeet, Peacock, Muscovy Duck (And I have Red-masked from San Francisco and Monk from Austin). My last trip to Florida was not guided, so this will be more about "cleaning" up a few species I missed, including some native species like White-crowned Pigeon. Also keeping my fingers crossed that some vagrant from the Caribbean might show up.

I'll still have to at some point do a spring trip to the keys (Gray Kingbird, Antillean Nighthawk, Dry Tortugas seabirds), but that is a future trip.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I am surprised nobody mentioned India, Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia, which have been traditional mecca of birdwatchers. All are still good and accessible birding with great culture to throw in. And the infrastructure is getting better and better. Most Asian airlines are of higher standarAttach filesd than U.S. and European ones on the same routes.

I lived in Bagkok for fourteen months and birded there every minute I wasn't working. Yes it is a fantastic place and even a second home to my wife and I. But that being said, in less than a month of birding in Brazil, we got over twice as many species as in all our time there. I suppose if I combined Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam my list would approach Brazil numbers. We did find certain parts of Indonesia easy to access (Jakarta area, Bali, Sulawesi) but other parts, like Sumatra, were not at all amenable to weekend trips from Bangkok.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I'll still have to at some point do a spring trip to the keys (Gray Kingbird, Antillean Nighthawk, Dry Tortugas seabirds), but that is a future trip.

Same here. We have birded Florida a lot but it still remains the leader for us in the continental US in terms of targets remaining. Might do Tortugas next spring.

I just ran a Target Species analysis on the USA and it tells me I have 238 to go get - some of that is Hawaii, where we have never gone. Otherwise, it means hitting a lot of remote places for single specialties. Driving to Big Bend just to get Colima Warbler... yeah I don't mind, but when your wife only has so many vacation days to use, the time-per-bird factor is a big deal. With international birding so hard right now, it is more about time per bird than cost per bird, for us at least.

I did think of another goal I have tossed around in my mind, but which I will likely never attempt: to go birding in every county on the United States. There already exist online clubs of people that have driven through / visited every county, a feat that takes years to do. To my knowledge nobody has done it with birding, though I would be surprised if some birders have not already started pursuing this. What is stopping me? I do not drive (eyesight) and that is a hell of a carbon footprint. If I only had an autonomous electric vehicle....
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I'll still have to at some point do a spring trip to the keys (Gray Kingbird, Antillean Nighthawk, Dry Tortugas seabirds), but that is a future trip.
I presume that you guys have these birds calling?

As the finder of Trinidad and Tobago's first Lesser / Antillean, the received wisdom is that they're inseparable without vocals?
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Thankfully my one and only visit to the Miami area did get me some exotics, including Spot-breasted Oriole, Common Myna, Egyptian Goose, Mitred Parakeet, Peacock, Muscovy Duck (And I have Red-masked from San Francisco and Monk from Austin). My last trip to Florida was not guided, so this will be more about "cleaning" up a few species I missed, including some native species like White-crowned Pigeon. Also keeping my fingers crossed that some vagrant from the Caribbean might show up.

I'll still have to at some point do a spring trip to the keys (Gray Kingbird, Antillean Nighthawk, Dry Tortugas seabirds), but that is a future trip.
Winter is rare for vagrants, but anything is possible, last year we had an overwintering Cuban Pewee and Black-faced Grassquit in the same place in the Keys.

White-crowned Pigeon is easy if you drive in the afternoon around some streets in Miami or take an early morning drive through the Everglades National Park (I had over a dozen of them by the road last year for the CBC). It seems like the harder ones left would be Munia and Bulbul (which tend to have a park they prefer, though less stable for Bulbuls these days), Common Hill Myna (which we only have 2-4 birds left and they mostly disappear after breeding season) and the other parrots and macaws (thankfully most of those along with the Mynas can be seen around Matheson Hammock Park and surrounding Coral Gables area).
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I presume that you guys have these birds calling?

As the finder of Trinidad and Tobago's first Lesser / Antillean, the received wisdom is that they're inseparable without vocals?
Location, Common Nighthawk does not breed in the Florida Keys, only the Antillean does. But even then, vocals is best ID when on migration or if seen outside of the Lower Keys.

Also Lesser Nighthawk is a rare winter visitor to South Florida from the Southwest, so it's best to further split them. The best ID for them is that the other two species don't winter in the US while Lesser does in small numbers.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
For me, guides and tours have several advantages. For one, I tend to be neurotic, and leaving the logistics of international travel to a guide or tour company allows me to more fully relax, instead of constantly worrying about the next drive or if I got the directions right.

I think there is also an budget aspect to it. Are tours or guides more expensive? Yes. However many of the international trips I might take may be my only opportunity to visit a certain destination. I would rather pay a little more and be confident I will see the birds I want to see, rather than missing a lot of birds and feeling I need to revisit or leaving with a sense of disappointment.

Also, as a single person who has no close "birding" friends in real life, sometimes being by yourself can be kind of...lonely. I like to chat with people about birds at meal times, etc. Dinner time at the Canopy Tower last spring was pretty depressing, as I was the only person dining each night.
I've birded alone but with a local guide, planned trips with birding while with my family, and done a week long trip with birders. Needless to say, I got more birds in new places while with a guide or a birding group, though the fun part of planning a trip is something I don't often experience with a preset itinerary, which is probably why tour groups are hit or miss for me.

I hate the idea of being alone while spending the night in a faraway place, but there's nothing worse than being in a trip and having everyone have different levels/targets and make a clash because some want to spend more time enjoying the big targets, while others just want to tick off their lifer LBJs.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Location, Common Nighthawk does not breed in the Florida Keys, only the Antillean does. But even then, vocals is best ID when on migration or if seen outside of the Lower Keys.

Also Lesser Nighthawk is a rare winter visitor to South Florida from the Southwest, so it's best to further split them. The best ID for them is that the other two species don't winter in the US while Lesser does in small numbers.
I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I meant Common, not Lesser Nighthawk!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I meant Common, not Lesser Nighthawk!
It's all good, after all, this is the special moments where you question why is speciation de way it is for some very similar species that look similar, live in similar places, but just sound different! I love birding, but these little details make me question how much patience we have for the groups that have so many species that it just feels like ornithologists just want to name a species (which is kind of the issue happening in paleontology with dinosaurs).
 

jurek

Well-known member
Most of the US is self-birding but only because of the infrastructure, most wild places are either remote or heavily protected (especially around heavily populated areas like California, South Florida or Coastal Texas). I'm wondering what countries do you consider the best for someone to just travel on their own.

On a budget: Thailand, India, Malaysia. If you have more money: whole Europe, Morocco, South Africa, USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand. Of course, every one of these has some regions difficult or impossible or dangerous to visit, but you can do a good circuit on your own.

I think there is also an budget aspect to it. Are tours or guides more expensive? Yes. However many of the international trips I might take may be my only opportunity to visit a certain destination. I would rather pay a little more and be confident I will see the birds I want to see, rather than missing a lot of birds and feeling I need to revisit or leaving with a sense of disappointment.

I agree that having logistic taken out of you is good. My preference is with local company in the country I visit. However, it can be very tricky with an organized tour from Europe or the USA. They are necessary in places challenging logistically, like Antarctica. But elsewhere, shyer birds are becoming difficult or challenging, because normally these tours are 5-8 persons. If these is only two or three of you, it is often rather straightforward to see some skulking birds. You simply make less noise. And participants can be also a challenge - especially ones not fit and not really friendly. And it is not that a guide will conjure you every species possible. If a bird is not there, you will not see one. And of course, a group is inflexible. On your own you can detour to some non-bird attraction or stay longer for a special bird.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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