birding-aus Serious World Twitch

Subject: birding-aus Serious World Twitch
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 08:30:06 EDT
John Boyce asked for more info re this topic.
 According to the Times newspaper (28/4) this 'twitchathon' was undertaken by 
Harry Howard a 59-year-old hatters merchant from Lancashire who had not done 
any serious birding/twitching or for that matter overseas travelling 
previously. He was accompanied by a professional ornithologist Derek Scott 
who had first given him the idea some years earlier. The purpose of the 
exercise was to see representatives of all the worlds 202 bird families in 
one year (something not previously achieved and probably not even attempted), 
rather than maximise number of species seen. This required 2 round the world 
trips one of 8 and one of 9 weeks duration plus a number of seperate trips to 
specific countries, visiting 28 countries in total, including Australia and 
New Zealand of course. There was no mention of the overall cost of the trips 
in the article but it does say that they took 80 scheduled flights on 31 
different airlines, stayed in 83 different hotels plus 11 nights camping and 
covered over 12,00 miles in hire cars. One sad footnote, his wife was taken 
ill while he was in Brazil and died before he could get back home during his 
second world trip. However, he decided to resume his trip after the funeral 
as it was his wife who encouraged him to try for the record in the first 
 The total number of species seen (2726) was incidental to the exercise and 
if this had been the goal they would no doubt have adopted a different 
strategy and a different itinerary. I doubt if New Caledonia for instance, 
which they visited to see Kagu, would have been included. I don't know of any 
claim regarding total number of species seen in a year but I suspect given 
the time, money, careful planning and lots of energy it might be possible to 
exceed 5000. Any takers?
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