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Watching birds Paul Bradbeer discovers Ukraine for himself

13 грудня, 00:00

The English word “birdwatcher” does not have an established counterpart in Ukrainian. The closest that could be is a descriptive definition: “person, who watches birds.” Who knows, maybe eventually this word will become a part of our lexicon, like it happened with the word “sniper” – a skilled shooter (derived from the English “snipe” – bird of waders family, who manages to hit it while flying is a high-class shooter). Birdwatching – observing birds in their natural environment is a hobby of world community: there are over 40 million birdwatchers in the US, in most European countries there is a greater number of birdwatchers than hunters and fishers.

One of such birdwatchers with 40 years of birdwatching experience is Paul Bradbeer (he will turn 50 in December). English man, native Londoner, he belongs to that group of people charmed with birds, who can not imagine their lives without the possibility of being able to go and see their feathered friends. Bradbeer was born and grew up in the environment that strongly promoted involvement in birdwatching. His parents – former professor of botany Joseph Bradbeer and Mary Bradbeer continue to go on birdwatching tours to birds El Dorado of the planet.

Paul Bradbeed showed an interest in birds while he was still a kid. Family travels over Wales, which provided the opportunity to become acquainted with the most common British birds, contributed to the deepening of this interest of his. After graduating from the Department of History at Cambridge, Bradbeer visited 15 countries of the world (US, India, Nepal, Monaco, Jordan, etc.), where he was able to observe almost 1,000 species of birds from over 9,800 of world’s fauna.

Since 1995 Bradbeer has been living and working in Dnipropetrovsk. He arrived here as a volunteer of George Soros educational program to teach English at Dnipropetrovsk National University and stayed for a long period of time. He currently teaches spoken English in some universities and colleges of the city and gives private lessons. In Sicheslavsk land he settled his personal life – his wife Maryna is also a teacher of English. They have a daughter, beautiful Maria-Adel Bradbeer. She is in the second grade at school now.

Since 1997 Bradbeer is a member of the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds, which unites in its ranks Ukrainian birdwatchers: professional and amateur ornithologists, nature lovers, those interested in protection, conducting scientific research, and observing birds. There are nearly 2,000 members of the Society now and there is a great perspective for this number to grow.

During this time Bradbeer has visited many parts of Ukraine: from Polissia to the Crimea, especially seven nature reserves and national parks. His brightest impressions of birdwatching in Ukraine include: yellow heron in mixed colonies of birds in the family Ardeidae in the Dnister swamps, flocks of sandpipers on lowered fishery ponds in Dnipropetrovsk, meeting bustards, little bustards, golden eagle, and saker falcons in Kerch in winter.

In Ukraine Bradbeer launched friendly relationship with dozens of hobby fellows. After meeting Bradbeer many of them received second-hand but still very good binoculars (humanitarian aid from the British Royal Society for Protection of Birds – RSPB) and English field key to the birds of European quality.

In his hobby Bradbeer is a real professional. His experience, healthy memory, and ornithological intuition help to accurately identify even hard cases of birds in field conditions: gallinules, sandpipers, and leaf-warblers. He practically never makes a mistake!

Thanks to Bradbeer’s activity the list of avifauna of Dnipropetrovsk region now includes 13 new species. In 2000 he even managed to register nesting of white-tailed gull in Dnipropetrovsk, far outside the natural habitat.

By the way, sandpipers, especially rare northern species, are the most favorite observation object of Bradbeer. Therefore, it is not surprising that he often visits the habitats that are good for their stay during the migrations in the region: salty estuaries of Samara region, Petrykivka and Samara fish farms, shallow Dniprodzerzhynsk water reservoir. A conservative estimate of the time Bradbeer spent out in nature environment during his stay in Ukraine would be over 500 days (4,000 hours) and observed 292 species of birds (out of 413 presented in Ukraine). He made careful notes of everything he saw. Analysis of these results and the corresponding interpretation, of course, could serve as the basis for the high quality Ph.D. thesis.

Bradbeer always happily accepts invitations to visit the remote areas. He has visited many amateur ornithologists: teachers Viktor Voloshyn (village of Kudashivka, Krynychansk raion) and Anatolii Salnyk (village of Vilne near Kryvyi Rih). Volodymyr Suzhko from Verkhniodniprivsk is his all-time companion in birdwatching trips.

As a foreign guest, Bradbeer comes to the youth environmental camps, where he conducts workshops of birdwatching. However, children often, remembering such times call him “well-known English ornithologist Paul McCartney” (world wide fame of Liverpool Fab Four has no borders!).

During traveling over Ukrainian land Bradbeer’s British sense of humor never fails. Besides birds, he is captivated by the beauty of Ukrainian women, lyricism of our landscapes, and biodiversity, as well as the ability of the Ukrainian people to stay optimistic even in seemingly hopeless situations. The Englishman is well oriented in Ukrainian political life and understands perfectly who are “the real boors that don’t let us live normal life.”

While the Ukrainian period of live Bradbeer has become a guest of numerous TV programs and many articles in various newspapers were written about him. He is an active contributor to scientific and popular scientific publications (magazines Berkut, Branta, Sviata Sprava-XXI), regularly sends his correspondence to the British informational newsletter Birding World and fills the website of the newsletter. His plan for the coming year is to work on the book Birds of Ukraine Seen Through the Eyes of British Birdwatcher. Ukrainian Society for Protection of Birds offered to provide support for publishing this book.

It is interesting to watch how Bradbeer acts out in nature. Always with telescopes, binoculars, and a backpack he carefully scans the area and neither little bittern in reed thickets, nor winged falcon in the heavenly space can not hide from his watchful eye.

“World of Ukrainian birds is sufficiently rich and can easily capture any birdwatcher from Western Europe the way it did with me,” said Bradbeer. His anxious, fanatical attitude to our feathered neighbors on planet Earth is a good example for all of us to follow.

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