Birds, history and stuff

When I started planning a trip to Andalucía, I posted a message to BirdForum asking whether my plans were practical. One of the people who replied was John Butler, who, I’ve since discovered, not only runs bird tours there but actually wrote the book on birding in the area. One of the things he said was:

Do not miss Sevilla. It is a beautiful city and well worth visiting for the sights of the city, but there are also lots of birds to be seen. Lesser Kestrels live in large numbers around the cathedral and these will be joined by Pallid Swifts from late March onwards. Lots of good birding can also be done in the Maria Louisa gardens, less than a km from the historic centre of the city.

I can’t tell you how much it made me smile to read that “Lesser Kestrels live in large numbers around the cathedral”. There’s something special about going to a place for the history and architecture, and seeing good birds there. Partially it’s just because it’s double the pleasure, but also the bird makes the place more memorable and the place makes the bird more memorable. And because birds play a large part in my sense of place, they can bring somewhere to life beyond its historical context.

Some examples – White Storks nesting on the top of marble columns in the ruins of Ephesus; a pair of Scops Owls in a tree outside the museum at Corinth; Cirl Bunting at Mycenae, Long-legged Buzzard at Troy. Perhaps the best of the lot – swirling flocks of thousands of Alpine Swifts coming in to roost in the walls of Fez in Morocco.

3 Comments

  1. 27 March 2006 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    I’m going to Sevilla this summer too! I’ll be there for three days in early June at the beginning of my 5 week long jaunt in the Mediterranean. Oh, and Ephesus too! I’m going there too! When do you depart?

  2. Harry
    27 March 2006 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’m leaving in 8 days time. Sevilla and Ephesus? Even with 5 weeks, those are a long way apart. I take it you’re going to a few places in between.

  3. 28 March 2006 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Yep. Spain, Italy, Greece, then Turkey. 1 week in Spain, 2 in Italy, 1 in Greece, 1+ in Turkey. I think I’ve talked myself into 6 weeks. I hadn’t really considered making birding a focus of my trip, although I love to birdwatch. Those big birds (storks and buzzards) sitting up on ancient ruins are probably pretty impressive, and raptors all throughout an area…wow! Have a great trip!

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