Big Year / Big List / Twitch

To: Frank O'Connor <>
Subject: Big Year / Big List / Twitch
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Sat, 21 May 2016 11:43:08 +0000
Thanks for your comments Frank.

>From what I hear, I don’t think the Australian twitching scene is as bitchy as 
>some of the northern hemisphere scenes.  However, in Australia, I don’t think 
>Mike Carter is that far in front these days - looking at Tony Palliser’s 
>"Birders Totals” things are tightening up at the head of the leaderboard.

My comment on big years is that it is hard to compare apples with apples.  At 
this point in time, taxonomic splits tend to outnumber lumps, so the number of 
available “species” is tending to increase.  It’s a bit like taxonomic 
inflation.  There is also environmental variability from year to year.  This 
may affect the difficulty in finding particular birds or may affect the number 
of vagrants that turn up in the birding patch (e.g. did the smoke from the 
chronic fires burning in Indonesia last year contribute to the large number of 
vagrants turning up?)  Third, the reporting of vagrants continues to improve…

Anyhow, to get back to John Weigel’s big year - is the ABA competition solely 
about being at the all time top of the totem pole, or is there an annual race 
(i.e. to get the top score for the year)?

Regards, Laurie.

On 21 May 2016, at 8:30 pm, Frank O'Connor <> wrote:

> 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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