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 23 of 51

22 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2017 My Biggest Year displaying Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise and a Southern Crowned-Pigeon. It hard - ly gets any better. 1 April 2016 OPMEER, NETHERLANDS 2,069 species Just after I left home, I received news that the first-ever Siberian Rubythroat for the Netherlands was wintering in someone's back garden in the tiny village of Opmeer. Despite all the amazing birds I've seen on a daily basis, missing this long-awaited mega felt a bit sore, but against all odds, the beautiful male rubythroat is still pres- ent during my layover in the Netherlands on the first of April. Straight after arriving at Schiphol Airport, I drive to Opmeer with my girl- friend and my parents, and after some searching, we are treated to eyeball-to- eyeball views of this Siberian vagrant. Unbelievable, even though I'm gone for almost an entire year, I still get to see the best bird of the year in the Netherlands! 20 May 2016 ANDASIBE-MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK, MADAGASCAR 3,123 species One of my most-wanted birds this year is the Helmet Vanga, a rare and spectacular bird with a grotesque, fluorescent blue bill. Despite terrible cold and wet weather, we head out to a remote corner of Andasibe- Mantadia National Park. After driving for two hours with a 4x4 across the worst road imaginable, we arrive at the start of the trail. It is still dark when we start walk- ing. Half an hour later, we leave the trail. Right then I notice that I've forgotten my lunchbox and water bottle. For 10 hours straight, we battle our way with a machete through a soaking wet and seemingly im- penetrable forest with hardly any birds. When we finally get back to the vehicle, of course without seeing the vanga, I am wet to the bone, starving, and completely broken. I guess it comes with the territory when doing a world Big Year. 22 June 2016 NEAR NYAMIBE, GHANA 3,479 species The globally endangered White-necked Picathartes was the bird that launched my hero David Attenborough into the lime- light in 1954. [He worked behind the screen for a program called Zoo Quest. The host became ill while filming an episode about the picathartes, so Attenborough subbed for him.] Now, 62 years later, I have a chance to come face to face with this legendary species. It is late afternoon, and my dad, the film crew, and I are waiting on a wooden bench next to an overhanging rockface in the middle of the Ghanaian rainforest. We are not allowed to produce any sound, so we are communicating through sign language. Suddenly, Michiel [van den Bergh], the di- rector of the documentary film about my Biggest Year, starts frantically pointing at the forest edge behind the rock face. Before I can grasp what's happening, a pair of Picathartes hop into view. I marvel for a full minute at the drop-dead gorgeous birds, but then it is time to fill Attenborough's shoes. In front of the camera, with the birds attending their nest behind me, I narrate the story of the Picathartes. With this footage, we hope to reach out to a wider audience. Hopefully our docu- mentary will help create some public sup- port for the conservation of this unique bird, because the West African rainforest in which it thrives is disappearing at an alarming rate. Birdlife International works hard to create public awareness and to in - volve local communities in the conserva- tion of the species; sustainable ecotourism to the Picathartes breeding sites plays an important role in this process. 23 July 2016 RIO AZUL JUNGLE LODGE, MATO GROSSO, BRAZIL 4,333 species We have been working the trail for just half an hour when a huge eagle with jet-black TOP TO BOTTOM: n Harpy Eagle. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis n Bengal Tiger. Photo © Max van Waasdijk n Filming a Lilac Kingfisher on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis

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