John Weigel

To: Graeme Stevens <>, Paul Dodd <>, 'birding-aus' <>
Subject: John Weigel
From: Kev Lobotomi <>
Date: Sat, 21 May 2016 01:57:15 +0000
I disagree with Paul Dodd.
Twichers all have the same goal, which is to see a new bird. It has become a 
real sport now & which level you compete on is up to the individual. But, when 
it comes down to it, we all get a thrill out of seeing a new bird whether it be 
for our life, state or life etc. list! Yes, there are variations in what we 
each strive for. Some of us have different priorities, but ultimately the 
thrill of the chase see a new bird is what draws twitchers together. The Big 
Year is nothing more than an event, for tennis or golf players it is a Grand 
Slam, the Tour de France is for cyclists etc. Big Years are for people who like 
to challenge themselves & usually have too much time & money! All the Big Year 
is, is an event for serious twitchers who like a challenge and have the money 
and time to do it. Big Year twitchers only differ from other twitchers because 
that's what decide to participate in.
I held the Australian record back in 1983 when I got 607 (using the taxonomy of 
the time) in one year, the first over 600 species in a year list. I didn't have 
too much money, but back in those days I had too much time. I didn't go to SW 
Australia, & visited none of our territories & did it by using public 
transport, travelling with friends and hitch hiking. I am a twitcher, but I 
wouldn't contemplate doing it again. It takes too much out of your life & I'd 
rather spend it doing other things now. My ultimate aim now is to enjoy the 
birds & if a new one pops up, off I go, but only if I can afford it.

Kevin Bartram

> From: 
> To: ; 
> Date: Sat, 21 May 2016 10:27:28 +1000
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] John Weigel
> CC: ; ; 
> And I reckon it's even more nuanced than that.
> Just adding to Eric's subsequent post.
> I have never partaken of a "big year" challenge and could by no means 
> classify myself as a "dedicated lister/twitcher" either.
> Do I have an interest in how many Australian species I have "Atlassed" in my 
> travels? You bet (now > 600 and that gives great satisfaction)
> And at my venerable stage and having lived overseas with boxes of notebooks I 
> am having great fun with "Scythebill" gradually discovering what my "Life 
> List" is. Just a fab way to re-live some great experiences.
> I suspect I defy classification? Or maybe I will be seen as a "half hearted" 
> participant?  Work and budget have definitely intervened at times that's a 
> fact.
> Actually on reflection I think it's the place, the experience, the habitat, 
> the value of the "citizen science" and an understanding of ecology that comes 
> first with numbers and photography an added interest.
> To each his own and suspect there are many "hybrids" like me. That doesn't 
> say I don't admire the dedication, contribution and value of the "big year" 
> and "lister" fraternity.
> Good birding to all I say and the more attention we attract perhaps the 
> better the conservation outcome.
> Graeme Stevens
> > From: 
> > To: 
> > Date: Sat, 21 May 2016 00:39:55 +1000
> > Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] John Weigel
> > CC: ; ; 
> >
> > First of all I want to untangle the notion that someone that conducts a "Big
> > Year" is also a "Big Lister". The two are absolutely poles apart. Ruth and I
> > have conducted our own "Big Year" in Victoria, and whilst we do travel the
> > world, bird watching, we are as far from being big listers as most people
> > that I know.
> >
> > A Big Year is all about seeing as many species as possible in a certain
> > geographic area within one calendar year. A Big List is about seeing as many
> > birds as possible in the world in a lifetime. A Big Year is about
> > challenging oneself and other Big Year participants (past and present) - it
> > is, in essence, a competition. A Big Lister, on the other hand, has the
> > luxury of time, and is generally not competing with anyone, past or present.
> >
> > Big Listers, as a rule, use guides. Big Year participants, as a rule do not.
> > In fact, when Ruth and I did our Big Year in Victoria, we used a guide only
> > once, and that was Simon Starr who helped us see Plains Wanderer. As people
> > that travel all over the world, Ruth and I ALWAYS use local guides in the
> > countries we visit - not necessarily to identify the birds (we have done our
> > homework, after all) - for the sole purpose of managing the logistics, and
> > getting us to the right place.
> >
> > People have questioned the "practicality" of Big Years. When Sean Dooley did
> > his Big Year, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that seeing 700 species in
> > Australia was impossible. Sean, of course, proved "them" wrong by seeing 704
> > species. When John Weigel did his Big Years, there was no doubt that Sean's
> > record was almost impossible to reach, JW proved everyone wrong by seeing
> > 745 species. In his second year and second attempt, JW saw 770 species.
> > Surely this suggests that 800 species in Australia (and its territories) in
> > a calendar year is possible?
> >
> > When Ruth and I conducted our Big Year, we only had one goal in mind - to
> > beat Tim Dolby's record, set the previous year, of 345 species seen in
> > Victoria. In actual fact, Ruth and I beat that number in June of 2010 (by
> > seeing Little Penguin at St Kilda). We ultimately went on to see 392 species
> > (IOC taxonomy) in Victoria, surely suggesting 400 species in this state is
> > possible.
> >
> > Peter Shute mentions the problem of proof or verification. I suggest that
> > cheaters and frauds are soon found out. Ruth and I found several rare
> > species in Victoria in 2010, that would normally have people questioning
> > either our honesty or our ID skills - both were, in fact, questioned during
> > the year. Ultimately though, if you have integrity, it is hard to suggest or
> > prove that you were doing the wrong thing. For instance, we saw Spangled
> > Drongo in Victoria in 2010 (in actual fact, we saw this species twice in
> > Victoria in that year). We were challenged by one of the moderators of
> > Birdline Victoria (we obviously posted on that site), and our response was
> > simple - we actually used Birdline to indicate when and where rare species
> > were found and went to those locations to find the birds - the moderator
> > simply had not looked at the previous postings on their own site! We also
> > found Red-chested Button-quail in Victoria - normally an impossible species
> > to find in this state. I found the birds simply by looking for historical
> > records and going to those locations on the off-chance. One of the locations
> > looked like suitable habitat and we spent more than three hours quartering a
> > native-grassland paddock in 40 degree temperatures until we flushed a bird
> > and had a good-enough view to identify the species. Obviously our sighting
> > was met with a high degree of scepticism, but the following weekend a group
> > of birders attended the same site, and applying the same procedure,
> > identified the same species.
> >
> > If asked about the number of kilometres travelled or other such questions,
> > to date I have declined to answer. I feel that by asking that question, the
> > asker is establishing a particular point-of-view. Instead, I argue that
> > despite the carbon footprint, a Big Year has a certain value - and the most
> > immediate value is that people genuinely want to hear about it - and I am
> > talking about non-birders here. In and of itself a Big Year, whether
> > state-based, country (or region)-based or worldwide is going to be of
> > interest. And by writing books or blogs, and by public presentations, people
> > are engaged in this activity we call "bird watching". My experience with a
> > Big Year is that in the end it certainly *does* become about the journey,
> > rather than the target - one becomes very fixated on the birds rather than
> > the number. By virtue of the fact that we needed to see certain birds, we
> > became far more interested in the available habitat - so we certainly
> > developed a deeper understanding of where to look for birds.
> >
> > My experience with Big Listers is that they tend to be more private - Big
> > Listing is a personal activity, with personal goals, rather than being
> > public. This is neither right nor wrong, it is simply the way it is. Whether
> > Big Listers develop the same affinity for birds and habitat, or whether Big
> > Listers are fixated on just a number, I suggest depends on the birder. I am
> > absolutely certain that there are Big Listers that could care less about the
> > birds and are only interested in the "tick", and I am equally certain that
> > there are Big Listers that absolutely interested in the species and the
> > habitat.
> >
> > Ruth and I are NOT Big Listers - we are Big Year participants. I know of
> > nobody that is both a Big Lister and a Big Year participant. Since this
> > thread started with a discussion about John Weigel, I should point out that
> > I know John very well. John is definitely NOT a Big Lister - John is a Big
> > Year participant. John is also a person of the utmost personal integrity and
> > someone that I would not have any question should he say that he's seen a
> > Curlew Sandpiper in the lower 48.
> >
> > Paul Dodd
> > Docklands, Victoria
> >
> >
> >
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