To: Mick Roderick <>
Subject: twitchathon
From: peter crow <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 08:58:14 +1000
Each year Birds Qld has a fun twitch which involves no fundraising. The organiser has with an eminent mathematician devised a formula based on the second atlas which attempts to equalise scoring for different areas.

The twitch must be completed with 50km of a point. If that point is in an arid area where few species were found during the atlas counts the twitcher's count is adjusted upward according to the formula.

This assists in reducing the gas guzzling and all associated with it and gives people in less bird populated areas a chance of winning.

I have no idea of the maths involved but feel confident the person who devised the system knows what he is doing. ( I will not include his name without permission.)

Its not perfect but it seems to work.


On Monday, April 2, 2007, at 04:08 AM, Mick Roderick wrote:

Greg et al,

This is all very strange. I mean, we are competing within a (fundraising) competition that has a set of defined rules that each team abides by...and it is as simple as that. The rules state that the boundaries are state borders, so if you take part in the NSW Twitchathon, NSW is the limit. There is absolutely no distinction between inland, coastal, sub-coastal, altitudinal boundaries. The fact that some teams choose to twitch both inland and coastally is a simple reflection that they are the teams who want to find the most number of species. It is a simple strategy.

Moreover, the playing field is certainly level. The inference that it is not level is akin (as a top-of-my-head example) to saying it is not fair that only tall people can play competitive basketball and that we should limit the time that anyone over 6ft can spend on the court. No-one is at a disadvantage once they have the simple foundation of having access to a vehicle. Once you have the means to get around...then you plan your route. Whether or not you choose to go over the big hill (from east-west or west-east) is up to you.

Given, there is going to be more fuel burnt by vehicles that travel further. This is clearly a small by-product of the event. Surely though, this pales into insignificance when you take into acount the amount of fuel burnt by the 10's, 100's of people partaking in birdwatching around the country throughout the year...whether during simple weekend trips or moreso, when a rarity turns up...and it's straight to the airport or petrol station to get there! The Twitchathon is a once-off competition (per year) - try calculating the amount of km's travelled by birders throughout the remainder of the year compared to that weekend. The Twitch is a fundraising event, unlike the countless other fuel-guzzling motorsports (I'm starting to ramble), so it shouldn't be a target for greenhouse emissions (I'm not even mentioning responsible usage of cars to get to work, impacts of industry etc etc...know your enemy!). My point is that the net gain from the Twitch, in terms of not only fundraising, but also broadening community perceptions about 'birdwatching as a leisure time activity' (every year there seems to be more and more press releases, radio interviews etc), surely outweighs the ultimately small proportion of emissions released.

I think Paul Taylor's suggestion works well. I did a talk at the Hunter BOC on the 2006 NSW Twitchathon last year and presented a quasi-prize (coined the "Mike Newman Cup") for the Hunter team that found the most species per kilometre travelled, which happened to be the Hunter Thickheads. The Hunter Home Brewers came in 3rd from memory. I'm sure the Black-necked Stalkers would've given the Thickheads a run for their money in the past 2 years in this 'category'. I can understand Steve Gross' predicament, living out west, where you would ideally start. But how far can the rules be bent to account for this? I'm sure also that David Geering can relate a story or two on "how to win the twitchathon whilst living inland" too.

Maybe the 'species per kilometre' idea could be implemented as an additional prize (like the rarest bird prize), or just a category if another prize isn't appropriate, but not to replace the current rules which are quite simple and, just as simply, requires a lot of detailed planning and a dash of madness one weekend per year, nothing more.

Mick Roderick
Chief Hunter Home Brewer (stumbling across this from high in the Andean Altiplano).

----- Original Message ----
From: Greg <>
To: kbrandwood <>; birdingaus <>
Sent: Saturday, 31 March, 2007 5:27:05 AM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] twitchathon

Hi all and Keith,

It is interesting that this issue is raised now (which is not really that interesting as even the Prime Minister now is aware of global warming, I
think!!!) as this year is to be the first year that the Black-necked
Stalkers have decided to do both the inland and the coast. This is because, as Keith points out, twitchers confining their route to the inland are at a disadvantage when compared to people on the coast, however people on the coast are also at a disadvantage compared to those who do the inland then
drive all night to reach the coast.  I call it the double-twitch where
twitchers do an inland twitch and a coastal twitch.  It is virtually
impossible to win without doing so. The Black-necked Stalkers have for the past two years confined their twitching to the Clarence River Valley and although gaining a respectable tally could not match the winners. Winning is not everything but it is nice to know that you have at least a level, or
near level, playing field.

Maybe there could be a limit on the distance allowed to be travelled. Maybe
double-twitches are just too climate unfriendly.

I look forward to other birdo's comments on this issue.

Greg Clancy

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