John Weigel

To: Kim Sterelny <>
Subject: John Weigel
From: Kim Sterelny <>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2016 00:03:40 +0000

I have never done a big year, nor have  any intention (or the skills) to do so. 
But can folks please stop moralising about the choices of how other people 
spend their time and money. If people want to go on a holiday chasing birds, or 
have a gap year doing so, that is their choice. If you think it is interesting 
and fun; read their books; follow their blog (I'll certainly be looking out for 
Kingbird Highway); if not, don't. But unless you never go on a holiday; never 
spend money renovating your house; never fly; cycle or walk everywhere; 
remember that you have a carbon footprint too; you could donate to charities 
more; and so forth. As choices about how to spend your life go, bird chasing is 
pretty harmless. So respect others' choices.

OK: that probably counts as moralising too! But I'll risk it

Kim Sterelny, School of Philosophy, Research School of the Social Sciences, 
Australian National University, Acton, 0200, ACT, Australia


From: Birding-Aus <> on behalf of Tony 
Russell <>
Sent: Friday, 20 May 2016 8:45 AM
To: 'Peter Shute'; 'Anne Brophy'
Cc: 'Birding Aus'; 'Tim'
Subject: John Weigel

Were they ever practical ? Or of any use whatsoever ?  Surely only the 
attention seeking misdirected aspirations of the person with too much time and 
money to expend are involved. It's just a silly " I'm better than you" game and 
the money would be better given to a deserving charity ( and for the person to 
get a job).


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of 
Peter Shute
Sent: 19 May 2016 21:11
To: Anne Brophy
Cc: Birding Aus; Tim
Subject: John Weigel

I haven't read Kingbird Highway, but I see that it's set in 1973. I believe Roy 
Wheeler and Kevin Bartram, who did their Australian big years not that long 
after, also didn't drive.

I think it would be impossible to break the record these days without a driving 
licence, and a lot of time and a lot of cash, let alone the organisational and 
birding skills and luck that have always been required.

Given the increasing difficulty of breaking the record, can these attempts 
continue indefinitely? Surely a time will come when the personal cost won't be 
worth the tiny chances of beating the record. And surely, as the record gets 
harder to beat, the temptation to take "shortcuts" will increase, and with it 
the need to provide the proof that is being asked of John Wiegel. It's a big 
ask to expect someone to get a photo of every bird, and as we saw in a recent 
Victorian big year, even a photo can be insufficient proof.

Are big years becoming impractical?

Peter Shute

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