Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

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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Photo © Mikael Bauer 15 March 2017 | Birder's Guide to Travel are European species of what are called kinglets in North America. The Firecrest's breeding population has been expanding in southeastern Great Britain in recent years, and its numbers increase during winter and the spring and autumn migra- tions. Finding a Firecrest in the thickets as you search for rare vagrants is always a bonus to any day's birding. This small bird is constantly moving, and it frequently hovers as it searches for insects. #3 • Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica No spring trip to the U.K. is complete without a trip to a seabird colony. Taking in the sights, sounds, and smells (!) of a colony in full swing is an amazing experi - ence. I have loved seabirds from an early age, and pictures of puffins covered my room as a child. I was very fortunate my conservation career started on England's most famous seabird islands—the Farnes, where I lived and worked surrounded by thousands of seabirds. It was an ex - perience I will never forget. The puffins kept me constantly entertained, landing next to my watch point with beaks filled with sand eels, waiting to go back to their burrows. One afternoon I found a soot- covered puffin sitting on my bedroom pil - low after it had fallen down the chimney. A few days later, a young "puffling" was sitting in the toilet bowl, having become lost on its way to the sea whilst taking its maiden trip into the world. The great thing about British seabird colonies is their accessibility. Seabird islands like the Farnes have daily boat trips during the breeding season, and there are numerous colonies around the mainland. #4 • Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis This is a widespread species of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, but being such a stunning little bird, it had to be includ- ed. The most colorful resident bird in the U.K., a kingfisher is often seen as a bolt of blue and orange as it speeds up or down the river giving its distinctive high- pitched call. If you find a feeding perch, you may be lucky enough to watch this technicolor creature diving for fish and bashing its prey on the stick before swal - lowing it whole. #5 • Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava A bird of arable farmland and rough grass- land, this handsome wagtail is one of my favorites. The subspecies Motacilla flava flavissima, with its bright yellow rather than gray/blue head, is a U.K. breeding endemic. Sadly, like many of the U.K.'s farmland birds, it is a species in decline. # 7 # 8 # 9 Photo © S. Rae Photo © Tom Lee Photo © Ian S.

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