The World of Birds and Laughter
A travelogue of a keen birder reminiscing the fun times and adventures he had with friends and family whilst birdwatching round the world.
Author: Richard Pople
Publisher: Brambleby Books
Year of Publication: 20 January 2016
Format and Pages: Paperback, 250 pp
ISBN: 978 1908241 375
Retail Price: £9.99
Our Discount Price: £7.99
Sample text from The World of Birds and Laughter
April 29th, 1993, saw eight excited birders checking in at the departure desk at Luton Airport eager to get out to Spain. After a short flight the aircraft landed at Malaga Airport at about midday, with each of us straining our eyes out of the window to see what birds we could record in and around the airport fields.
We collected our hire cars and drove north to Cordoba, then on to Zaffra. Azure-winged Magpies and Spotless Starlings were numerous…
It was time to seek out a café for breakfast and whilst driving through a local town we eventually found one. As we were very hungry we all entered it feeling elated. Yet a problem was that none of us spoke any Spanish. You can imagine the looks on the faces of the locals as we imitated several noises, including that of chickens and pigs, hoping to get bacon and eggs. Alas, it didn’t seem to work. However, the café owner finally managed to understand what we wanted and our food duly arrived: fried goat, eggs, chips, bread and butter, and tea, so our quest was not totally hopeless, and the incident was certainly very funny.
Several new birds were seen here, but not without a problem for Dave Beer. I found a Forest Wagtail, perched on a branch in the open about 15-20 metres away. We all located it apart from Dave. The bird has a characteristic tail movement from side to side and was showing well, although Dave couldn’t see it. His frustration made it more difficult despite each and every one of us trying to pinpoint the bird for him. It must have been 10 minutes before he suddenly shouted. “I’ve got it; I’ve been looking at the wrong tree,” he declared. It happens all the time, and when panic sets in it makes it more difficult. Other good birds we saw that day included Asian Fairy Bluebird, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler and Chestnut-tailed Starling.
It was 3.00am when the alarm went off for another extra early start. We made for the high point on the Chironi Road, 4800 feet (1463 metres) A.S.L. It was very misty, and even at this early hour there were lots of young lads driving around on motorbikes, bit of a nuisance. Have they nothing better to do at this hour? Glossy Black Thrush and Short-tailed Night Hawk were the immediate target birds and they were seen quite quickly. This was followed by patiently stalking Chestnut-capped Brush Finch and Schwartz’s Ant Thrush, two difficult skulkers, but both birds were eventually seen. Antbirds, Ant Shrike, Ant Wren, all these species are very difficult to see as they skulk around in the undergrowth giving brief views if you’re lucky. It was here that Keith made an announcement: “If any species with the name ‘ant’ in it turns up, I don’t want to know; they’re a right pain.”
One of the excursions was a high-altitude trip. We drove to an area about 1,600 metres ASL, then had to abandon the bus for the final walk to an altitude of 2,200 metres, the ultimate destination being a Radio Station. This was reached by climbing 680 steps upwards. Ian and I decided to call it a day a little way up before reaching the steps as I knew my knees would give out on the way down. This was a good idea because Ian and I managed to see a beautiful Diademed Tanager, a Picazuro Pigeon and a very obliging Rufous-collared Sparrow at close quarters.
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