Sunday, 8 January 2012

An interview with Christian Cederroth

46 year old, Swedish, Bed and Breakfast owner at Segerstads fyr (Victory City Lighthouse on Öland Island), bird watcher, bird guide, journalist and photographer; Christian Cederroth was also a ringer volunteer at Blue Hill Escape for 2 weeks. Tatiana and Bertrand, from France, asked him a few questions

Christian overlooking the Langkloof valley to the south of Blue Hill on an early morning bird ringing excursion. Photo: Alan Lee

 Hi Christian! You are a very passionate birder, where does it come from?
Actually I am interested in many things: music, sports, nature… But definitely the craziest thing is bird watching! This passion comes from my grandmother who showed me everything about nature when I was young. Birds are fun, interesting, sweet…They are all around the word and always different. At the age of 8 I gathered money to buy my first telescope.

Christian and a splendid male Cape Sugarbird. Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth
How do you live your passion in your daily life?
I try to work with my interests as far as I can; I am a bird guide for example. I’ve also chosen my house in one of the best bird watching places in Sweden. And I never travel without trousers and binoculars!
Verreaux's Eagle -  probably just over a year old. Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth

What do you need to be a bird watcher?
Two things: bird book and a pair of binoculars!

According to you, which qualities do you need to be a good bird watcher?
The two main things are: interest and experience. You need to be active as often as possible. It also helps to be patient!
Orange-breasted Sunbird: Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth 
How many species have you seen until now?
I may have seen 3 600 species all over the word, among them the ones I always dreamt about. For instance, the spoon-billed sand piper: just 100 of them still exist.

Are you often travelling to see birds?
Yes, of course, I have been to about 50 countries all over the word. Don’t ask me which one was the best, it’s too difficult!
Ground Woodpeckers - watching the Verreaux's Eagle when this photo was taken! Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth 

So, what are your impressions about South Africa?
It’s a fantastic country and not only for bird watching!

You are at Blue Hill Escape for 10 days, tell us more!
Well, I am a ringer volunteer. It’s not the first time I do ringing, I have experience but here I learn a lot about how South African ringers are working. Alan also taught me many things about local birds, he is an expert! Blue Hill Reserve is a very good spot to observe special, rare and endemic birds.
Ringing. Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth 

You have observed birds for 38 years, have you noticed some changes?
A few species increase but a lot decrease; the big thing is we don’t really know why. Of course, pesticides, hunting and habit destruction are somehow responsible. Where I live many birds are dying because of lack of vitamin B and there is no research done to explain this phenomenon.
Protea Seedeater - a species in decline. Photo courtesy of Christian Cederroth

What is your best memory concerning bird watching?
This is a hard question to answer! I think it is when I saw my first bearded Vulture. It was in Israel, we were supposed to drive a long way in the desert and then to walk 6 hours to maybe see something…On the way, at the top of a little hill, we stopped to watch birds around a dead camel; we didn’t realize that just next to them was a big bearded vulture! Looking at us it started screaming and running to take off, spreading its two meters wings… Really impressive!

Last question: have you already planned your next travels?
Yes! Croatia, for a Gull meeting; later… Peru; and after that come back to South Africa.

To find out more about Christian, and see more of his photos

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