Birds of a Feather; Gareth Bicknell on the Welsh Bird Airport Where Enthusiasts Flock to See Migration Magic

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), July 24, 2004 | Go to article overview

Birds of a Feather; Gareth Bicknell on the Welsh Bird Airport Where Enthusiasts Flock to See Migration Magic


Byline: Gareth Bicknell

IGRATION is magic. That is the view of the bird enthusiasts who flock to Wales every year to see the arrivals and departures of nature's most intrepid tourists as they stop off on journeys spanning the globe.

Wales could be described as Heathrow for holiday makers of the feathered kind, with ``transit lounges crammed full with immigrants'' -- as Zimbabwe-born wildlife cameraman Dee Doody explains in new documentary series Birdwatcher: Incredible Journeys.

Dee, the ornithological expert who hails from the fauna-rich continent of Africa but is now settled in Llanidloes in the heart of rural Wales, tells the story of how bird life in Wales changes through the seasons as winged voyagers use the country's woodland and coast as they travel from Africa to the Arctic Circle.

``There are big connections between Wales and Iceland, and even Greenland, '' says Graham Appleton of the British Trust for Ornithology, who also contributes to the programme. Although based in East Anglia, Graham is a regular visitor to North Wales. Along with fellow ``ringers'', who trace the migratory journeys of birds, sometimes following them to far-flung climes, he often heads to the Welsh countryside to spot birds such as swallows, turnstone and his own personal favourite, the redshank.

``The programme is about Wales being an international airport with birds coming and going from all directions, '' he says.

``We focused on species which are Welsh specialities such as the African redstart and the pied flycatcher. These birds are particular to Wales because they like woodland, and Wales has a lot more woodland, relatively, than the rest of Britain. '' In the series, presenter Dee follows ringers like Graham all the way to Iceland as they catch up with species that have spent a season in Wales.

Graham travels to the volcanic island every year and says he enjoys nothing better than the sight of his favourite bird arriving there en masse. …

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