Re: Geographic proposal for next years twitchathon

To: "David Geering"<>,
Subject: Re: Geographic proposal for next years twitchathon
From: (Danny Rogers)
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 17:07:34 +1100 (EST)
I too think that Tony's notion for a SEPARATE short-course twitchathon is
great. The twitchathon is held so that competitors can have a lot of fun and
raise a lot of money - and if this could be done twice a year rather than
once, it would be a good thing.

A sort of short-course twitchathon used to happen in Victoria. At
twitchathon time (by tradition, at the end of Bird Week in October), teams
could enter the main race, or enter a 24-hour race in which they were not
allowed to go further than 80 km from the Melbourne GPO. I'm not sure that
this increased participation or funds raised (the number of teams increased
slightly during this period, but probably for other reasons). Mainly it
shifted what teams did - a lot of teams opted for the short-course race
instead of the long one. We ended up with all the leading teams doing the
short-course race, seeing perhaps 20-30 species less than they would if they
did the main event (and for that reason, probably raising a bit less money),
but still getting higher totals than the teams in the main race. It was felt
that this discouraged inexperienced teams and the short-course event was

For this reason and others, I think it would be good if a second twitchathon
was well and truly separated from the main race - preferably by about six
months. I imagine a lot of sponsors could be tapped for money a couple of
times a year provided they didn't have to cough up twice in quick
succession. I myself would find a twitchathon on say April 1 an interesting
contrast to the present event - in Victoria at least, waterbird distribution
would be quite different (great - an excuse to explore more wetlands!) and
we'd get to learn more about when various migratory passerines leave the
state (funny how departure times from Victoria are far less well known than
arrival times). 

Making the second twitchathon a short-course event quite different to the
main one would also be important - it could well bring in new participants,
and would reduce the chances of the second twitchathon interfering with
sponsorship sources of the October event. Exactly what the constraints
should be is hard to say. Tony's idea seems pretty good (we could rekindle
Melbourne-Sydney rivalry nicely if both cities had a short-course
twitchathon on the same day). The South Africans have, or used to have, a
twitchathon where the competition was between Atlas squares. As some places
offer more diverse birding than others, they must have had some kind of
handicapping system to figure out who actually won. I think the idea was to
encourage birding in areas where bird-watchers rarely tread, in addition to
the more usual twitchathon ideals.

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