We have now been on road for two weeks with the ´Pushing the Boundaries Tour´. We have enjoyed some very cool birding, met so many enthusiastic birders and seen new places. For me it has been a crash course in Britain. My previous UK experiences are two early school years trips to Britain, with little birding in it. And an amazing three week visit to the Scilly Isles in 2008, which was a key ingredient in me and Elins choice to start the adventure that would lead to us setting up the Biotope office - the first ever architectural office dedicated to birding. Being on tour in Britain for these past two weeks have been an amazing experience! Below follows a few photos and thoughts as the tour comes close to and end.
We have not really had time to do that much birding on tour. We have almost met more birders then birds. I had a few target birds when I arrived UK. Two of them being the Red Grouse and the Brown-bellied Dipper. Both subspecies I have not previously seen. And what beauties! I guess a lot of people travel north, having a ´White´ Grouse on their wish list , for me seeing a red one was equally amazing. The Dipper was a bird I had to put in a little extra work to get, but finally after a checking a few kilometers of river streams I was rewarded with three of these distinctively different birds. A very smart looking bird, with its warm brown-red earth colours. Some surprises also followed. A new bird for me was Caspian Gull. So gull watching is very different in UK and Varanger. I would say watching gulls in a fishing harbor has a slightly more picturesque feel to it, but birds are birds, and a Caspian on a dump is still great! Then we invented the term Chiffchaffing, meaning looking through Chiff Chaffs trying to find a Siberian Chiff Chaff of the subspecies ´tristis´. Another great experience which Martin wrote about on his blog.
Birding is not same same as a general interest in or love of nature, it goes slightly beyond that. You go where the birds are, and if that is not an escpecially beautifull site, you can still have an amazing experience. We have visited several dumps during our tour, and been rewarded with some very cool birding. Such as seeing the Gull variety: Caspian Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull ssp argenteus & argentatus, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Common Gull, possibly even Russian type ´heinei´ Common Gull. Right photo above is of the Milton Tip in Cambridgeshire. Great birding. Left photo above is from the spectacularly beautifull fields and wetlands of the Norfolk coast. Thousands of ducks and geese winter here, and we had great views of a wide variety of species. More great birding.
UK - the homeland of birding
Meeting so many birders across UK have been a real privilege! The people we have met on this tour have all made the Pushing the Boundaries Tour a real adventure for us. Thanks to all of you! The great thing about being a birder is that you meet and connect with people, where ever in the world you go - especially in Britain. Birders make a differende - ´A force to reckoned with´ is the right frase, I feel. It has been a true inspiration meeting the digiscopers, the reserve wardens, the tour operators, the bloggers, the twitchers and many, many more!
Lots of birders count their species. As a birder / architect I also tick bird hides! I have already a quite large library of bird hide photos, and this has grown even more on this trip. Finding new inspiration, and always looking into how bird hide design can be improved is one of my favorite topics. It is one of the key things we work with at the Biotope office: how to improve architecture for birders. Britain probably have more hides than any other country, so in this respect it was a fruitful tour. Still, as in Norway, there is potential for improving the designs. At our talks on this tour I have shown photos and spoke of how new bird hide design can improve our birding, and even invite more people to the birding scene.
On our tour we have tried a variety of hides, from the standardized box hides, to the one of a kind Titchwell hide to the simpler, but equally functional screen hides. I will make a more in-depth article on hides soon. This is a topic that is worth researching and describing much more. The amounts of hides that are build is amazing, and evidence of a birding scene with the impact and power to promote birds and nature. However this is also a frontier to be developed. To be continued…
On the road
During this tour I have filmed a series of short cuts with my iPhone. Approx 100 three to six seconds clips will be edited down to a short Pushing the Boundaries movie. To be released very soon. It is an all phone production, giving a glimpse into the tour on the road.
It has been hectic and inspiring. Grand thanks to all the birders we have met on the road! In the end our scheme was bound to be revealed. Andrew Chick of the Lincolnshire Bird Club connected the dots, and revealed the Curlew plot :)
Well - what an adventure it has been! Need a little power-nap after this tour. Thanks all! Hope to be back soon.
to be continued..
Tormod A. / Biotope