Big Year / Big List / Twitch

To: "" <>
Subject: Big Year / Big List / Twitch
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Sat, 21 May 2016 10:30:34 +0000
For heaven's sake. John Weigel is doing an ABA Big Year. Full stop.
Don't ascribe your values or prejudices to his. If you don't
appreciate what he is doing, then tune out. The last 20 or so
messages to birding-aus with the title John Weigel had almost nothing
to do with John.

Paul and Ruth did a Victorian Big Year. Full stop. I enjoyed it, and
enjoyed reading their progress.

Alan Collins did a WA Big Year last year. He kept it close until the
end of the year. That wouldn't be my preference but it was his big
year. From his extremely limited budget he did extraordinarily well
and I was glad to read about it after the event. There were some
rarities he saw, that were not reported on the WA birdline. But he
was out of contact. Do I doubt his sightings? No way. This is what
has disappointed me most about John's ABA Big Year. The way some US
birders have basically slandered him, and doubted his sightings. I
guess the less you know about something / someone, the more wild you
can make your statements. I hope they have the guts to apologise to
John at the end of the year. I don't think that John will get the
biggest total (he is 25 behind), but so what. He is doing a Big Year
and good luck to him.

I assisted Noah Strycker for 2.5 days on his world Big Year. An
extremely nice guy, and I look forward to reading his book. He went
birding for 365 days in a row and had a great time.

I have met some World Big Listers. CG from Sweden (?) on my tour to
Madagascar. He was #3 at the time. His interest wasn't centred on
numbers. He wanted to go birding. Yes he wanted to see new birds. But
he had turned to looking for birds of a new genus he hadn't seen. I
met Hugh Bock (#2) on my recent trip to Sarawak. Again, numbers were
not his number one goal. We were going to somewhere few birders had
gone. I think he only added 3 or 4. But they were birds that
interested him. His knowledge was good, and he was helpful if you asked him.

I am an Australian twitcher (and much more so a WA twitcher),
although considerably less in the last two years because of my world
birding (see below). But I don't get the enjoyment from twitching by
adding one to my list. I get the enjoyment because twitching is a
totally different type of birding. It tests your patience. You need
to think about where the bird might be (assuming you don't see it
instantly you get there). You know there is a realistic chance that
you will dip. I enjoy birding on Cocos & Christmas because it is
totally this. You can walk around all day and see very little. There
may be nothing there to see. But the next moment you may see a bird
and it is likely to be something different. Then it is a test to be
able see it, and then to identify it. Twitching is also about the
other birders that you meet when you are there.

In the US and the UK, there probably is a strong competitive element
to twitching. But I don't think this has happened in Australia? Maybe
because Mike Carter is so far ahead :-) And Mike has always been
ready to help anyone. The first time I met Mike he took me to Phillip
Island and on the ferry across Port Phillip Bay. A friend gave me his
phone number and he was happy to help me. There seems to be a strong
leaning in Australia towards everyone helping everyone.

My world goal is to see one bird from every family. I made this goal
after meeting three US birders on a tour to Bhutan who had this goal.
Until then it was to some extent numbers (although my numbers were
very low - just over 2,000). I have been on 6 trips with these
friends in the years since. Hopefully I will achieve my family goal
by the end of 2017. What next? I met a UK birder on my trip to the
Tibetan Plateau and his goal was 50% of every family. I thought about
this, and that will be my longer term goal. So rather than visit
somewhere say in South America where I could add 100, I will go to
places to see white-eyes, or owls, or monarchs, or megapodes, or
pheasants / partridges, or ...

So my message is simply to enjoy birding in what ever way you decide,
and don't judge others, and help them when the opportunity arises.

Frank O'Connor                          Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694               Email : 

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