As I have been preparing for an upcoming trip to Florida, I have been looking through some Google street view images for the areas that I will be visiting. This combined with a series of blog posts on the Birdist triggered my interest in birding using Google street view. So, I started to play around with street view with the particular goal of locating birds.
Now, the trick with Google street view is that because the images are not very high resolution and you can only see a limited area, the birds you can see with it are generally fairly large. They generally also have to be easy to locate. So, I set out to target certain areas of the world where I figured I could find certain species. This led me to exploring Google street view in general and I was blown away with what I found (and not just bird wise). Through this Google exploration I have really realized how many awesome places there are in the world and just how much there is to explore.
The first bird I found was a magnificent frigatebird which I located along the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Buoyed by the success of that, I started exploring some other areas of Florida and found black vulture, anhinga, double-crested cormorants and others.
I then began to search in other places around the globe. This was when I began to find some really cool places.
One of the first things I tried was dropping a random pin in South Africa (in the kwaZulu-Natal area). What I found was really shocking for me.
Better yet, I was able to locate a colony of African penguins in Cape Town.
Intrigued I began to explore in earnest.
I spent some time looking at images of various places in the Arctic hoping to find an alcid to add to my list.
I ticked northern lapwing in Yorkshire (actually at the same spot where I got my lifer).
I decided to look at a few islands for seabird colonies. This was easy to do and there was limited area to search and birds were abundant.
I looked a bit around central Africa but came away with little (street view’s coverage of most of Africa is sub-par at best)
Overall it was a really eye-opening experience seeing just how many awesome places there are to see in the world. Additionally, I didn’t do to badly with the birds as I was able to identify ten species. I unfortunately had to leave four unidentified (a small shorebird in Quintana Roo, Mexico, a raptor over a moor in Britain, three birds around a lake in Kenya, and a raptor/pigeon in Botswana).