We need Pokémon-free areas

Pokémon Go drove the half of the world crazy in the last few weeks and although the number of active users are declining these days there are still an incredibly large number of people using their mobile phones for hunting down these little bastards. Using Pokémon Go by millions also means there is a lot higher pressure on the environment than before as above the regular outdoorists a new gaming generation is now spreading out to parks, streets and all sort of locations, for playing Pokémon Go. They are not necessarily the most environmentally sensitive people though…

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Last week, while birdwatching at the Ferrybridge and the Fleet at Portland in Dorset, I witnessed a man and his son entering the mudflat and playing Pokémon Go while disturbing dozens of shorebirds. They entered the tidal zone where shorebirds have just arrived to feed after long hours roosting during high tide. It was far beyond the acceptable disturbance level but they felt they had to get those Pokémons in the middle of the mudflat. Small flock of Dunlin and Common Ringed Plover were flushed from the fresh feeding grounds and had to move to the much narrower muddy edges of the Fleet.

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I’m afraid this is not a solitary observation and most of the users only focus on gaming and don’t really care about the environment with all its complexity. While it is a good thing that the ‘flat-ass generation‘ (as I call them) has started walking off the gaming chairs, they should also be informed how to be a part of the nature in a sustainable way. On the other hand Pokémon Go developers should start to work with conservation organisations to develop Pokémon-free areas. They would care less about the middle of the mudflat if there was no Pokémon popping up there. Theses areas should be excluded where those little cyber creatures could be collected from. It is already a sensitive issue.

The price of being a bird conservationist

Many years ago one of my non-birding friends tried to help me to get my life sorted. One of the ‘lessons’ he taught me, and what many of my current friends would argue with, to get rid of all the negative things from my life. Keep or move away from people with toxic souls, stop listening news on media. I immediately questioned him, but tried reducing negative news to reach me. Suddenly, it worked. And it worked better and better, day by day.

However, I couldn’t completely exclude negative things from my life, simply because I’m addicted to the conservation of birds. In our time being a bird conservationist of any level is one of the most challenging activities. To do it right we have to be emotionally connected to birds and the whole ecosystem. And it is a ‘Catch 22’. State of birds reports are emerging weekly, more and more bird species are in the brink of extinction, less and less money is available to avoid the irreversible processes. We are touched emotionally every day, yet we keep fighting.

If we count the number of issues waiting for being solved and the success stories in bird conservation up to date, we see huge differences. Yes, issues are more frequently coming up than success stories. Still, those success stories give us power not to stop fighting. Fighting means we have to let negative news in our life. Somehow they are different from those we see on news channels about wars, murders, corruption, global warming, lies or who know what else.

I dedicate this post to Everyone who cares about wildlife. Should he or she be a celebrity standing out for birds, a scientist, an ex-hunter who works as a ranger against poachers, a volunteer or a simple parent who teach his or her child not to hate, but respect wildlife and Everyone in between!

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I’m happy to be have nature loving kids with equipped with tenderness and sensitivity towards our feathered friends. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

The Big Circle: From the Heart of Europe cross Asia Minor to Western Siberia

The Collared Pratincole will be one of the awesome species we will see on this trip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Collared Pratincole will be one of the awesome species we will see on this trip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It looks to be a crazy routing, isn’t it. One said: Think big! So I did, as always!

This is a first step in the planning of a mega trip I will go with my son, Dani. This will not be a simple birding trip but a part of a complex public awareness project I have been working on for a while. I am so excited by this, though it is very challenging. Fantastic birds, interesting people and magical landscapes will all be the part of this trip. This 10,000 km long trip will be fully documented live. Photo and video journal will be posted daily. But there is a long way to go…

Whining about the Ural Owls

First official record of the Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) in the Gerecse Mountain, nw Hungary. ©

First confirmed record of the Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) in the Gerecse Mountain, nw Hungary. © Mészáros Komáromy Márk

It’s been a while, about 30 years now, since I would like to see at least a single Ural Owl. No matter where! Despite it is a regular breeder in Hungary I could not manage to find one. I could have seen it easily by asking a local birder to show me one but somehow I always wanted to find it on my own. I failed to find one. Yesterday I got a news about a bird which was seen next to an artificial nest box placed by local rangers in the Gerecse Mountain, Hungary. The bird was seen in a strictly protected forest which is just a few km away from my previous home town, Tata where I have been living for more than 20 years. The whining part is I have moved to the UK last summer. 😉

This is a fantastic find and apart of whining about my dips I am so pleased to read this news on the local mailing list. I wish the bird stayed there for breeding. Probably I can manage to find one bird in Hungary or in Finland later this year.

A couple for the Spoonies

The critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the most known and sought after bird species among birdwatchers and bird addicts. Not a single organisation decided to campaign for bringing this unique and adorable little peep back from the brink of extinction. The publicity on the conservation efforts for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is extremely wide and has reached thousands of members of different NGOs or social media groups.

However, still not many of them are aware of an interesting private project called Wader Quest. Behind the project there is a couple. An ex fireman, a teacher, a nice bird guide and an addict to waders and a wonderful partner, a photographer from Brazil. To make it short, they are the Simpsons.

Wader Quest

Wader Quest

Would two dowitcher species have been too good?

Rick and Elis Simpson. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Rick and Elis Simpson launched Wader Quest last year with a tremendous preparation work prior to kick off. Their target was to see a many shorebird species within a year as possible by traveling across the globe. During their trips they try to reach as many locals as possible to spread the word about the importance of shorebird conservation through the conservation efforts of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

While they are traveling they try to get more and more donors to support the WWT project on the Spoonie. So what is happening there? A couple is collecting money for their travels under the umbrella of Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation? The truth is that this amazing couple spends its OWN money and time to find funds for the WWT’s Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project. If we talk about addiction then Rick & Elis are definitely role models! I am lucky to know them and they are very close my family’s heart. Life often overwrites even the most perfect plans as it had happened to Rick and Elis. Due to a critical health issue of a very close family member they had to postpone some of the travels but the original idea is still the same, supporting the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation efforts. We can show our sympathy to Rick and Elis by donating the Wader Quest Project in these difficult times with a donation of a price of a box of beer or whatever small or larger amount. That is absolutely a personal choice! At the time of writing £1,000.25 cash + £116.95 Gift Aid raised from ‘only’ 29 donors. All donations DIRECTLY go to WWT and in the meantime Rick and Elis make huge efforts to find funds for their travels, but that is a different story – as they said. I am pretty sure that there should be more than 29 people who wishes the Spoon-billed Sandpiper to be back from the brink of EXTINCTION!

Saving The Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Courtesy of WWT

Should you think this project is worth to support, please go to their JustGiving fundraising page:

www.justgiving.com/waderquest

Personally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Elis and Rick for setting up and running this ‘donation quest‘ for an impressive shorebird species, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper!