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Cut those Birding Car Miles

47271, Carlisle

Listing, and certainly twitching, implies road trips with all their CO2 emitting, fuel squandering and motorway building implications. Less common birds tend not to hunker down at railway stations and even bus routes don’t provide great coverage. Not that I consider buses an alternative: they have all the disadvantages of cars and none of the advantages of trains. I’m talking semi-civilised places to wait and loose adherence to a timetable.

I can feel a challenge coming on. Surfbirds has in fact been running a (British-only) non-motorised league this year and the few totals on it are pretty decent. My local patch alone, Walkwood, stands at 63, halfway to the lowest posted score (by a Worcestershire birder. You go, guy!) A couple of buses (OK, I surrender) get me to Arrow Valley, which probably accounts for the rest of Redditch’s 80 birds. Then… I’m stuck.

Dave has done the bus marathon to Upton Warren but what a palaver. Really, the only option from Redditch is the train and that goes to Birmingham. Like I said: a challenge. Countrywide some railway stations serve marvellous nature reserves. RSPB Leighton Moss and Lochwinnoch spring straight off the top of my head. I thought there was a book on the subject but a search of Amazon has disclosed nothing.

Lugging a scope would be a pain but I managed to bird Australia, New Zealand and California last winter without one, so it’s not indispensible. My final, personal obstacle would be distinguishing the carless sightings in Wildlife Recorder. I should be able to add an observer to signify the non-motorised trips but it has defeated me. Honestly, I’ve never been able to compress the database and now this. If I were starting again, I’d probably go for eBird, although it only covers half the world’s species.

But I digress. I will prevail. I will find spots off the West Midlands rail network. I will create a new meaning for railbird. (Poker joke.)

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