Tips and Tricks for novice Twitchers!

To: "'Steve Potter'" <>
Subject: Tips and Tricks for novice Twitchers!
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 11:08:19 +0930
Hallo Steve, how come I don't know you ?  I live in Adelaide too. Are
you a member of Birds SA ?
When I was still working I used to go on longer caravan trips of four or
six weeks with a person who does masses of very competent planning. We
used to know what to expect behind almost every stone or tree. This
added enormously to the efficiency of time and money spent - but we'd
still come home whinging about having missed one or two subspecies. 
In regard to your comments below, I find I agree with much of what you
have said, especially the bits about prioritising and giving up a few
things in order to make time and money available for the (all important)
activity of twitching. Some of those who whinge about twitching are
perhaps just not prepared to make those sacrifices and I have little
sympathy for them.
 Others I do sympathise with are those who find themselves hog tied by
having partners not into birding (and who may resent spending the time
and money) and/or a tribe of kids to look after, or may just simply not
have the funds.  I used to be in that situation but once my wife died
and my kids all left home I was liberated into a state of being much
freer in deciding how to spend my time..  A properly organised
retirement with enough money to fund twitching, and a new partner ( who
is a birder this time and understands my passion) and I'm now sitting on
732 Oz lifers including quite a few rare vagrants.  One difference is
that I'm only interested in Oz birds and have no wish to go overseas
birding. Many of those places I deem too dangerous for me anyway and
I'll wait for their birds to come here.
The internet provides me with heaps of info as to what birds are about
and by accessing Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, Car Hire, and accommodation
websites I do all my own bookings at rates better than any travel agent
can get - in fact those buggers add a service fee for everything they
book unless you can convince them to do a price beat.
  I get to Perth, Darwin, Cairns etc from Adelaide for $199 each way if
I pick my flights carefully, and car hire is always $20-30 a day cheaper
by going direct to Budget, Thrifty, or Avis.  The beauty of this is that
you can sit at your PC at leisure and select the cheapest flights and
car hire, things that you never get shown through an agent. And you see
all the accommodation available in various locations , not just the ones
the agency wholesalers deal with. 
Nowadays it's cheaper to do short term trips by fly/drive than to go by
car and/or caravan. Of course those slower trips allow more time for
birding along the way, but the cost of fuel is rapidly outstripping

One of the things I run into quite often is being unable to find someone
prepared to go with me.  This year sees me for the first time zapping
off on my own regardless. I found this a little daunting at first but
having done some lone ranger stuff  I'm now comfortable with it.

Just waiting to see what turns up next.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Steve Potter
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 7:48 PM
Subject: Tips and Tricks for novice Twitchers!

This is my response to those complaining about not getting to the rare
vagrants in recent times. You may have some other ideas?

As an avid surfer, most of my life has been spent studying weather maps,
swell reports, and forecast charts, adjusting holidays etc accordingly
and doing mad dashes to where ever just because "it will never be like
this again".. until next time.. Scrounging for petrol money, then
airfares, then taxes for frequent flyer seats became a normal part of
life including running up big Visa bills just to get a few extra
frequent flyer points???  

Now my other passion, twitching, has been spurred on by an obscure
Christmas present in the form of a book called "The Big Twitch". To this
I have adjusted some of my lifestyle and finances to enable me to twitch
as often as possible. 

Here are a few tips for those not yet enjoying this lifestyle.

Holidays or flexi-time. Unfortunately I usually end up living in the
"time without pay" zone but hey it still works! Money. Give up some of
life's luxuries (or excesses) and stash that cash away for that "I got
to head to buphutabaswti to twitch the .. as next week it will be
extinct." moment. A pack of ciggies cost $10. 12 of those gives you
Adelaide to Sydney when on special! Or 5 bottles of Red. Frequent Flyer
points. What a great Idea! Gives you the opportunity to fly to those out
of the way places that you wouldn't like to spent money on normally
without feeling guilty! Keep enough for that " I got to go now" . if
there are seats. Brownie points with the non twitching spouse. Foot
rubs, dinner out etc. all helps. Gee it's hard when you have two
Information is a must. The internet provides you with just about all you
need. Sights like Birding-Aus, National parks, local birding info all
helps to get to the right spot at the right time. Also ask other
birders. Most are happy to help. Also air, rail or bus links and who
gives the best car hire deals.

Work out what is essential. Would you spend the money and time to see a
Crake in the centre of WA, if the same could get you 15 - 20 new ones in
Cairns? Depends on whether you are on 359 for Australia (like me) or
700+ like some. Combine. Would you spend the effort just going to Darwin
to see a Javan Pond Heron when you could go to Indonesia for just a bit
more, see the Pond Heron at every airport and treatment plant as well as
many other birds, have a surf in Bali and see the Pond Heron in Darwin
on the way home!

It helps to have a goal like 300 in a year. A number of new ones and a
couple of specialties included. Have a buddy to spur you on! It helps to
have your older more competitive brother trailing you in the count!!

Lastly, go big!
If you are going to do one mad twitch dash, make sure it is a good one.
It's hard to explain to non twitches you spent all that money and took
time off to see a seagull that looks similar to the ones at home just a
big bigger. Having something like a male White-winged Apalis seen on the
slopes of Zomba Plateau in central Africa under your belt (Tick, thank
you!) sure helps to ease the pain of hearing all the stories about
Crakes etc. that you may never get to.

You only live once. Make it count. Your kids can make their own money.
Your job is to set an example!

Steve Potter

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