Birder's Guide

OCT 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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Page 22 of 51

21 October 2017 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy ing it impossible to visit the legendary Sela Pass; this means no Himalayan Monal, no Blood Pheasant, and no Grandala. I ob- serve just five new species today, but luck- ily we manage to exit the Eagle Nest Valley in one piece and make it to Kaziranga National Park before midnight. All is well the next day when we see a huge male Bengal tiger take down prey less than 200 feet away from us. Without the blizzard, we'd not have seen it. It's like it was meant to be. 22 February 2016 NEAR DAVAO, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES 1,193 species In collaboration with Pete Simpson [the owner of Birding Mindanao and a guide for Birdtour Asia] and the Philippine Eagle Foundation, we've managed to ar- range a visit to a Philippine Eagle nesting site. Two weeks prior to our arrival in the Philippines, [my travel buddy] Max and I receive news from Pete that a one-and-a- half-year-old juvenile bird has reappeared at its nest near Davao City. Against all odds we are suddenly in play to connect with one of the world's rarest and most sought- after birds. Tension rises as we wait on a hillside overlooking a forested valley. Down be- low us, we can see a huge empty nest. Suddenly a group of macaques in a tree on the opposite side of the valley starts go- ing crazy, and seconds later the king of all birds soars past. The juvenile eagle perch - es near the nest, and we have prolonged views through the telescope. Moments later, the adult female joins the party. We have seen our all-time most-wanted spe- cies. What an incredible feeling. Unfortunately, the future for our planet's most incredible bird of prey looks grim. With a population of 180 to 500 birds left in the wild (BirdLife International 2017), the Philippine Eagle faces extinction in the near future. These majestic birds occupy territories of at least 10 square kilome- ters of pristine rainforest. Unfortunately, areas meeting these nesting requirements are nowadays hard to find on the islands of Mindanao and Luzon, which com- prise this bird's entire range. The BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions con- servation program and the Philippine Eagle Foundation are the last shreds of hope for the species. To give you my hon- est opinion: If we lose the Philippine Eagle, then we, as humans, have failed ourselves and our planet. 12 March 2016 NEAR EKAME LODGE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA 1,592 species We are on a small wooden boat floating downstream on a tributary of the Fly River. It is well past sunset and it feels like Max, our guide Samuel [Kepuknai], and I are the only three people in the world. Pristine forest borders the ink-black wa - ter we float on, and the sky is littered with thousands of stars. Suddenly we hear a loud, spooky, foghorn-like booming echoing over the water. A Forest Bittern! The mythical bird is so close we can al- most touch it, yet it is so far away since water levels are high and the forest from where it's calling is completely flooded. Despite not seeing the bird, this experi - ence goes down as one of our best mo- ments in the remote lowlands of Papua New Guinea. The next day, we see a TOP TO BOTTOM: n Camping in the Australian Outback. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis n White-capped Tanager. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis n Gelada. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis

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