Friday, 1 March 2019

5000 birds around the world in 16 years


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding Castillo de Loarre, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



The main reason we were going anywhere in February half term 2019 was to go to Spain to practise my Spanish as I hadn’t been able to go on the school trip. We weren’t expecting to see a massive amount of birds as the last time my parents had gone (in 2004 when I was 1 1/2 years) there had been awful weather with very bad snow and there hadn’t been many birds there at all. 

But the first day was very good, so we were surprised straight away. We drove out to some fields only a few miles out of Madrid and started scanning. Within a couple of hours, we had seen a pair of Spanish Imperial Eagle with a nest, Calandra Lark, and up to 30 Great Bustard! As well as lots of other birds as well - including Black Vulture, a new bird for my mum. 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding in Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


On our second day, Saturday, we went to El Planeron to look for Dupont's Lark. We saw lots of Short Toed Lark immediately and really well. We then saw Black Sandgrouse and Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse within ten minutes of each other and we were celebrating our luck. The Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse was a new bird for both me and my mum too. I managed to see them both really well and even grab some dodgy photos. After a few hours of trawling, I was beginning to lose hope of seeing our rare lark when we saw a bird perched upon a bush through the heat haze. I hurried to get the scope out and lo and behold it was the Dupont's Lark! Not the best views but definitely one.


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding El Planeron, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding El Planeron, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding El Planeron, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding El Planeron, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



On the Sunday the tables turned, though. We tried lots of different sights looking for Wallcreeper, Bonelli’s Eagle, and more, but nothing turned up. In fact, we didn’t see much of anything that day. I was a little worried too; at this point my world list was on 4998 and I really wanted Wallcreeper to be my 5000th, but I needed to somehow only see one more bird before magically finding myself a wallcreeper. 

Monday morning we went to Castillo de Loarre, in Arogan, to try and find an Alpine Accentor as it was supposed to be a really good sight for them. There was no sign of them, but we did spot Rock Sparrow pretty quickly in the castle itself. We were walking back to the car when a few birds flew along the tree line, and so we had to investigate. After a few minutes of walking around in the scrub, a male Rock Bunting flew out in full view onto a bush. It was perched up for several minutes with a few females flitting around it, and once it had finally flown away I cheered silently. It had been my 5000th bird in the world! Although I had been hoping for the Wallcreeper I wasn’t at all disappointed with the Rock Bunting, in fact, I was very pleased with it. 5000 is a bid deal for me because I’ve been working towards it for years at it’s almost half of the birds of the world and I’m the youngest person to see so many. 


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding Castillo de Loarre, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding Castillo de Loarre, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Rock Bunting at Castillo de Loarre, Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


I am incredibly lucky to be able to travel to conservation projects around the world and hope that by highlighting these projects and the species they are protecting I am giving something back. From a birding point of view, it was absolutely incredible seeing my 5000th world bird species especially such a stunning bird as a Rock Bunting. That number represents to me 5000 beautiful birds, 5000 beautiful places and 5000 beautiful experiences.


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding in Spain
Copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


About the Author


Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig 


Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes posts about birding, conservation and environmental issues from around the world. 

She has been involved in the UK organisation of the Youth Strikes encouraging young people from around the world to not go to school once a month and protest instead demanding immediate action to prevent climate breakdown. This is an interview in New Statesman.

She was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people

She organised four nature is helping to run four more in 2019. She also organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans two more in 2019. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Visible Minority Ethnic people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. 

She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She is a Minister in Chris Packham's Manifesto for Nature in 2018 and spoke in front of 10,000 people at the Walk for Nature. She has also appeared on TV and radio and is particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-silent-roars-2017-online

She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017. She was also listed as one of Bristol's BME top 100 powerlist.

She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She became the youngest person to see 5000 birds in 2019 age 16 and is looking forward to visiting Brazil birding in 2019 and hopes to see half the birds in the world there. Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter. If you would like to contact Mya-Rose about her work, please e-mail helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk.


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