The Biggest Twitch

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: The Biggest Twitch
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 12:14:59 +1000
There's no time to smell the roses or appreciate any birds you see on this sort of jaunt. It would be a 365 day sprint with military planning to ensure logistical efficiency - minimising time lost to travel and "low value" birds. Low value birds are ones that require extensive/time-consuming travel or take a long time to find.

Ideally, with bucket loads of money, you have teams of support people to handle the transport / supply logistics and local guides who can rapidly get you to the hot spots. You join the dots up so you get as many ticks in the one spot and minimise the time spent travelling during daylight hours. You don't go to low value places like Lord Howe Island, you don't waste time on wader roosts in Australia [coz you will see the birds in their breeding plumage in the northern hemisphere], you do one or two carefully chosen pelagics in each oceanic region - eg off the coast on NZ where the pelagics are just off the coast. You don't come to Australia at the height of the wet season unless you have helicopter transport - can't afford to get stuck and besides you'll see the that come south in the summer in PNG etc.

The challenge would be to line up the "honey pot" locations and seasons and to make sure you don't miss seeing any of the endemics on the locations you go to.

As the bar gets raised over time, this sort of exercise will become a very hard-nosed effort - like professional support. There will probably be ghost writers to provide colourful books at the end of each attempt.

An alternative challenge would be to organise a relay - for the most species photographed in a year on a single camera.

Regards, Laurie.

On 02/01/2008, at 8:56 AM, Jill Dening wrote:

Hi Everyone,

What Peter has written below is true in my own case: after a prolonged trip, I used my newly-acquired knowledge for furthering shorebird interests. Here is what I wrote privately to Alastair Smith a few moments ago:

"Hi Alastair,

I couldn't agree with you more. The sanctimonious attitudes are sometimes a little depressing.

My husband, James, and I took off in early 1993 in a massive motorhome with a garage at the rear, in which we carried a tiny, cut- down Mini panelvan. We both had to get truck drivers' licenses to drive the motorhome. We were on the road for three years, with our primary focus on birding. It was just fabulous, being relaxed, seeing new birds without any pressure (we are not good twitchers, though James is keener than I am to go the extra mile) and so we returned with a big list of Australian birds, but more importantly an overview of Australian birds and their habitats. That's when I realised that on the Sunshine Coast we had unusually large flocks of migratory terns, and which led me to undertake studies of our local area.

So if you ever get the chance, drop everything and go for it. It's a wonderful world, as long as you don't run through it too fast.


Jill Dening


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