Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

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.

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Page 56 of 91

Red dirt and mallee at Round Hill Nature Reserve in New South Wales, Australia. Photo © Michael L. P. Retter 55 March 2014 | Birder's Guide to Travel I wanted to pay special attention to bird families, which would be my mea- sure of world bird diversity. I chose to follow the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World to keep track of everything. Clements seemed the best option for my purpose, bearing in mind that all check- lists are moving targets, especially as DNA analyses provide clearer informa- tion about everything from what con- stitutes a species to the relationships among major groups of birds. Keith's recommended trips were lon- ger than the ones I would routinely be able to take due to work and other commitments. And his plan for a dab- bler didn't include Europe, because the European continent doesn't offer as many species as tropical countries do. Keith suggested trips to the Neotropics (Ecuador), the Afrotropics (Kenya), Asia (Thailand), and Australasia (eastern Australia), with an estimated total of 1,700 to 2,300 birds. I'd already traveled to Ecuador (al- though to a lesser extent than Keith rec- ommended), so Africa was to be my frst step along my new path. While Kenya sounded great, it was having some po- litical instability at the time that made Favorite Birding Moment •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Australia: Driving around in circles in the dark in a dry pasture near Hay until we fnally found our target, a Plains- wanderer. Photo © Michael L. P. Retter Superb Fairywren in Australia. Photo © Jason Leifester The author gets friendly with two Australian King-Parrots and a Crimson Rosella at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park, Australia. Photo © Michael L. P. Retter me nervous. Instead, I settled on a trip to lovely South Africa. I spent a little more than two delight- ful weeks there in January 2009. I saw 353 bird species, and all but 16 were new for me. I also added a remarkable 38 new families. Africa has more than its share of great mammals, and I enjoyed more than 40 species, with Karoo and Kruger national parks standing out as prime places to see them. South Africa also introduced me to the "full English breakfast". It was hard to return to my cold cereal at home after enjoying that every morning. 8-Dabbler.indd 55 3/4/14 1:18 PM

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