Birder's Guide

JAN 2019

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/1072320

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n Windy southern latitudes are the undisputed realm of Wandering Albatrosses. Photo © Noah Strycker n Adélie Penguins are as charming as they are curious. Photo © Noah Strycker 22 Birder's Guide to Travel | January 2019 Birding Antarctica Antarctica's birdlife is special, and birds can be found everywhere down south. Aside from the odd whale or seal, birds are virtually the only sign of life animating this otherwise-desolate land- scape of rock, ice, sky, and sea. Antarctic birds are even willing to come to you; they might waddle up to untie your shoelaces. Austere surroundings amplify their antics, with the curious effect of in- spiring even the most apathetic onlook- er to get totally stoked on birds. People go south with all kinds of motivations, but Antarctica quietly mints new bird- watchers in a way that few places could ever hope to. Maybe I'm biased. As an onboard ornithologist for expedition cruises to Antarctica, it's my job to focus on the birdlife. But Antarctica is an absolutely dazzling place for birders, newbies and experts alike. Here, it's less about tick- ing things off a list, as species diversity is rather low. Strictly speaking, Antarctica is the only continent with no mainland endemics; even the reclusive Emperor Penguin has strayed farther north. In- stead, Antarctica appeals to our visceral sense of awe. Just imagine if Neil Arm- strong had stepped on the moon and en- countered penguins—it wasn't long ago that polar explorers experienced some- thing like that on Earth, and we are now the first generation to walk in their boots with the luxury of fresh tropical fruit for breakfast. Traveling in Antarctica is raw and exhilarating, and a little addictive. I've taken about 25 trips so far, and each one just gets better. I can already hear the resigned sighs, so let's get this out of the way: Yes, most voyages cross the infamous Drake Pas -

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