A national twitchathon

Subject: A national twitchathon
From: "Lawrie Conole" <>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2001 12:11:26 +1100
>The km/bird suggestion is an interesting one but flawed, as I suspect you
>are already aware.


I was having a bit of a tease! ? though the more I think about it, the more
sense that birds/km makes as a new category.

>The difference between a winning team and the second
>placed team is often only a few birds.  To get those few birds might mean

>more than a few kilometres travelled.  Those teams doing a lot of
>travelling are generally doing it overnight in "dead time".  We picked up

>four nocturnal birds during out travelling time but all in the first hour

>or so.

But this does raise the point of efficiency, and therefore brings the birds/km
option into play.  The two highest scoring teams in Victoria in 2001, with 211
and 209 respectively, covered very different amounts of ground.  The Bush 
(211) go from Phillip Island up to Swan Hill and back again - one hell of a
long drive - maybe 1.5 to 2 times further than the Tang Tang Tintacks (209)
for just 2 extra species!

>perhaps a birds/km category could be introduced.  Now, that would be an
>interesting challenge.

It could be an extra category that open teams could enter simultaneously.  It
would obviously require a bit of careful odometer logging.

>than 4PM to 4PM?  I know that our team can get about 100 birds in that
>three hours or so of daylight and then travel in the dark to another
>hotspot for dawn.   By starting at midday I think we might be able to
>cover some habitats we currently travel through in darkness.  It means the

>next day is more rushed but with those normally "missed" birds under the
>belt it might not matter.

These are strategic/planning matters that feed back into the efficiency story.
 This year the Tintacks tried a modified route and ran it backwards to our 
direction.  We had about 135 species on the first day (including nocturnals,
Plains-wanderer, etc.), and then picked up about 75 on the second day.  This
is a different balance to our normal route, which is more like 120/90.  Our
route is now quite efficient, and has much less driving in dead time that many
of our competitors - more time actually birding after dark than we usually do.

It's worth thinking about making the route more efficient, rather than just
making it long.  In the end it's only the total that matters - ie. quantity
rather than quality!


L A W R I E   C O N O L E
2/37 Myrnong Crescent, Ascot Vale, Victoria 3032 AUSTRALIA.
Phone AH (03) 9370 3928; Mobile (0419) 588 993.

Senior Zoologist
Ecology Australia Pty Ltd
88b Station Street, Fairfield, Victoria 3078 AUSTRALIA
Phone BH (03) 9489 4191

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