Ornithologist Pair Break Record

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

For many bird lovers it seems like the sort of thing dreams are made of – giving up everything to enjoy a year spotting some of the most rare birds in some of the most exotic locations around the globe. Welsh ornithologists Alan Davies and Ruth Miller have done just that. They’ve sold their home and belongings, quit their jobs and set off to break the bird-spotting world record.

The pair of ornithologists met each other as officers with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Their journey together may have started simply enough, but no one would have guessed where it would end up taking them. As part of their goal to break the current record of 3,662, which was set in 1995, Alan and Ruth have set off on a year-long tour that has taken them to the far-flung corners of the globe. They started their journey by selling their house in Llandudno and they used the proceeds to fund their little odyssey. They then set off in hot pursuit of migrating birds, following them to countries such as Finland, Canada and Ethiopia. Their travels across Africa have taken them into some notoriously dangerous territory where common people openly carry AK47 rifles. They have seen a lot in their travels and it seems they don’t regret their decision one bit. The bird they are hoping will help them beat the old record was a sighting of the Blue Bonnet Parrot which they spotted in New South Wales, Australia. They have spotted as many as 3,666 different bird species to date.

One of the rarest birds they have spotted in their travels was the Sidamo Lark in Ethiopia. This small bird is found in only about one square kilometer of desert in that country. They have also seen other stunning birds, such as an Andean Condor, a Burrowing Owl and a Vermilion Flycatcher. While the trip has had its highs, it has also had its lows, and while in Vancouver, Canada, their car was broken into and their video camera complete with footage of the Blue Cotinga and other rare birds spotted in Panama was stolen. They also didn’t budget for the extreme credit crunch that hit this year and so ran out of funds about half way through the year. Nevertheless, they are making the most out of their time abroad and they still plan to travel to India, South Ecuador and Malaysia. They also hope to beat the 4,000 barrier along the way. Unfortunately, their efforts won’t make it into the Guinness Book of World Records because it would have been impossible to ensure that an independent adjudicator was present with each new sighting, but they have tried to film or photograph as many of the sightings as possible and will be submitting their record to the American Bird Association.

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