Updated: Oct 1, 2020
When the 'birding bug' first bit me I would do anything to add another bird to my list. I looked at people with long life lists and tried to do all that I could to somehow try and catch up with them. What this meant was every Saturday myself and a small group on inexperienced birders would load up the car, drink lots of coffee, pack a library of bird identification books and would drive to all sorts of locations to add to ‘The List’. We had some amazing experiences, the problem was my bank account didn’t enjoy these outings quite as much! In South Africa we have some amazing locations to visit, but the price of petrol really chews into ones budget very fast and leaves huge holes in ones wallet.
As I grew as a birder I started to discover the joy of local birding. This is birding that one does not need to travel to do, one simply travels no more than a few kilometers and birds in the area that they live in. So last year I made a decision that I would bird in the Amanzimtoti area more. What this did do was to open up my eyes to the amazing bird life that was in my area, bird life that I often simply looked over!
One of the highlights for me was a lifer right on my own garden feeders. A small group Red-Billed Quelea decided to come and feed in my garden. There are people that have life lists that are much longer than mine who have still not seen this bird I later discovered that people even travel to add this bird to their list, and there it was in my garden!
Local birding has allowed me the opportunity to be able to stop past areas on the way home from work and spend a few minutes simply seeing what birds are there. I have been able to record amongst others: White-fronted Bee Eaters (out of range), Black –chested Snake Eagle, African Black Oystercatcher, Spotted Ground Thrush, European Roller, European Honey Buzzard, Palm-nut Vultures etc.
As I thought about this, I want to give three reasons why I think we should not only focus on traveling for birds, but also birding local as often as possible:
This is a massive factor for me, unless you have the bank account of Bill Gates, when you have to always travel to see birds it ends up costing a lot. Not only petrol, but food, accommodation, etc. Local birding allows one to bird more often at a fraction of the price. One does not even need to leave their own garden, simply make a cup of co