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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Group looking for Giant Nuthatches at Doi Chiang Dao in Thailand. Photo © Jason Leifester 56 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2014 A mere nine months later, I was cross- ing the Pacifc Ocean on my way to east- ern Australia. I spent almost three weeks there, starting in the tropical northern part of the country near Cairns and fn- ishing the trip in cool, windy Tasmania. I tallied 401 bird species on this trip, of which 367 were new. I also picked up another 32 new bird families. It was the last opportunity I would ever have to add such a large number at that taxonomic level during a single trip. Australia felt a lot like my native Texas, except for the accents, the driving on the "wrong" side of the road, and the fact that you have to dodge kangaroos instead of white-tailed deer on the highways. By February 2011, I was ready to suffer through another long, miser- able fight, and I headed to Thailand for almost three weeks, focusing on the central and northern parts of the coun- try. This time I saw a sensational 449 species. I began to see the frst effects of overlap on this trip. It didn't really show up in the number of species, as 395 of these were new. But I "only" added 12 new families. As you might expect, the food was a real bonus on this trip. We had family-style meals for lunch and dinner almost every day, and I enjoyed all of them. The trip also turned me into a harsher critic of my favorite Thai restaurants around Austin, Texas. My wife and friends are weary of the "This isn't as good as what I had in Thailand" comments. The guide in Thailand noticed my in- terest in new families, and questioned Photo © Bob Steele Favorite Birding Moment ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Thailand: Watching a male Rusty-cheeked Hornbill pass small fruits to his mate that was walled inside their nest in a large tree in Kaeng Krachan National Park. White-tailed Robin in Thailand. Photo © Jason Leifester 8-Dabbler.indd 56 3/4/14 1:18 PM

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