Rethinking Ireland.

On March 17, I put a semi-serious piece in Viewpoints: “A Bird Watcher in Ireland.”

It was about Ireland being interesting, but disappointing in bird diversity.

I wised up since then, because of a little book I’d forgotten.

In the clutter of my bookshelves, I recently came across “The Birds of Killarney National Park,” a souvenir from my Irish trip.

It was — no joke — skinny enough to be a joke. And it fit with my opinion about Ireland’s lack of birdlife.

But, I started looking through it. Unlike other bird books, which are fat and heavy, this one could be read in minutes.

And I got the feeling that each bird in the little book was a bigger deal than any one bird in bigger books. Because there weren’t that many.

"Irish Stonechat. That's big."

When you’re in America, you’ve got maybe 900 species to spot.

You’ve seen many, and you’re not likely to get blown away.

But in Ireland, there’s around 140, including visitors.

If you see even a Stonechat, hell, that’s big.

Point is: Too much choice can de-sensitize you. Less choice can make what you find…more of a find.

So, on reflection, Ireland’s a fine place for bird watchers. It’s not just about pubs, music, friendly people and awesome green landscapes.

It’s also about rare birds. Because there, most of them are.


6 Responses to “Rethinking Ireland.”

  1. norm schaefer says:

    Mike- Why would there be so few species of birds in Ireland? How about the rest of the British Isles, say England, or Wales?

  2. As best I can tell, you don’t get much in the way of wildlife of any sort if you manage your landscape for sheep. I’d like to incite the Irish to reforest their land, rewild it if you will. Then you’d see some birds. Next up: New Zealand’s North Island. Put the damn trees back.

  3. Flora MacColl says:

    I moved to New Smyrna Beach, Florida two years ago after spending years away from the ocean. The first thing I noticed when I moved into my new apartment, was that there were no birds, except hummingbirds that came to my feeder. Nothing else, not a crow, not a starling, not a blue jay, nary a cardinal or a mockingbird. It made me appreciate cardinals, mockingbirds and blue jays a lot more.

  4. lois says:

    good timing. we are leaving for ireland in 5 days. researching, i couldn’t find much about birds. but, as you pointed out, that’s ok.

  5. Az Bob says:

    Thank You for that post.

  6. Marc D. says:

    Few birds, no snakes. And to the Brits in Ireland: Go home already.