Wintering geese over the Old Lake of my hometown, Tata in Hungary. © Gyorgy Szimuly
Moving to another country always brings some excitements and as at least for a while it is like being a tourist. Moving to another country also means we have to sacrifice something what we leave behind. There is about 1,700 km between my homeland in Hungary and the place I have been living in the United Kingdom. Birding wise these two countries are not the same. Not totally different, but still not the same.
Since I have started birding I listened the beautiful song of Common Nightingales every spring but where I have been living now it is very scarce and not even breeding. The song of a nightingale and the Hungarian spring are inseparable to me. The list of the species I have been missing contains quite a few species (e.g. European Honey Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, European Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Spotted Flycatcher, Tawny Pipit, etc.). All right I have moved to a new country where new things are waiting to be explored. I have no complaint. It is just an emotional thing to miss the resident birds of my homeland where my birding activity started. At least I have another reason to visit my home country every spring to feel the same spring atmosphere as many many years before.
Birding wasn’t a dominant activity for me in England in 2013. While large number of birdwatchers enjoyed completing their ‘Big Year’, I am to complete my ‘Tiny Year’. I could do some general birding in the spring, mainly in Buckinghamshire, but literally nothing happened in the second half of the year. I don’t blame anyone. I probably worked too much and no energy left for morning birding nor twitching. Luckily that is the past and it is time for a change. 2014 must be way different.
What are the plans then? First of all I’d like to buy my optics for a more pleasant birding.
As we unlikely move to a more exciting birding area in England, birding will be restricted to my WeBS areas. However, on the rarity front, there is a great potential for me in the UK. I am living a bit far from everything but on the other hand living in the middle of England has some advantages. I hope I find some time to go twitching.
I also try to increase the coverage of European birds and get some awesome views on those birds I have never seen. On the top of this list there is the Ural Owl, my nemesis bird, which is actually the last breeding species in Hungary I have never seen. Yes, it is shameful, but I can’t change it. I plan a visit in April to northeast Hungary where it is a regular breeder.
Ural Owl by Boris Belchev
Another plan is to make a late spring visit to Spain where some potential lifers are waiting to be seen. The Iberian Peninsula is the last region in Europe I have never visited so its time to explore its specialities, like the magnificent Azure-winged Magpie and possibly to meet some of my close Facebook friends like Peter Jones, Stephen Daly or David Smiff just to mention a few of them.
Azure-winged Magpie by Yuji Nishimura
There is a foggy plan to go to The Gambia in the Summer as there are some extremely cheap packages available here. I have already bought the field guide… just in case…
I would like to spend long hours at my desk and working seriously on my bird related projects. It would be nice to reach being independent by the end of the year and working fully for birds.
On the competition side I want to be the number one eBirder in the UK so I will submit as many complete checklists as possible. At the moment I am ranked 21 on the Top 100 eBirders in United Kingdom with 54 complete checklists submitted in 2013. Hopefully I can pledge new eBirders from Hungary where it is greatly unknown. My son has already started using the BirdLog app.
All in all 2014 must be way different from the very depressing 2013 and it should bring some lifers as well as more awesome views and not only ‘armchair’ ticks.
Happy Birding Everyone!