Australian Big Years

To: <>, <>
Subject: Australian Big Years
From: "SeanDooley" <>
Date: Sun, 1 May 2011 13:08:16 +1000
G'day to all,

In my book, "The Big Twitch", I outlined the list of Australian Big Years as
I understood it up until my record attempt in 2002. 

As far as I am aware, John McKean was the first to publically declare a Big
Year when in a competition with David Stewart in 1975 he saw 535 species,
although Roy Wheeler who broke john's record with 545 in 1979 mentioned that
Arnold McGill had seen 490 species some time in the early 70s.

Kevin Bartram broke the 600 mark with 607 species in 1982. Roy tried to take
back the record in 1983 but fell just short. It was interesting that neither
Roy nor Kevin had a license and so did all their birding either getting
lifts with other birders or in Kev's case, hitchiking.

Englishman Mike Entwhistle then saw 633 species. In The Big Twitch I saod he
achieved this in 1989. Several people have queried whether it was this year
or it was 1986. As Mike is not around to ask (having been murdered by
Shining Path guerillas in Peru a couple of years later. If anyone can
definitively let me know which year it was, I can rectify it in the next
edition of The Big Twitch.

I reported that my Big Twitch list was officially 703 species. (There were
three others I saw but didn't count because the views were too poor:
Streaked Shearwater, Grey-headed Albatross and Carpentarian Grasswren.) The
list total has actually changed since then. Firstly, I was finally able to
identify a duck I saw (and videoed) on Lake Moondara near Mt Isa on 13
December, 2002- an eclipse plumage male Northern Pintail. I will be
submitting this record along with accompanying photographic evidence to BARC
but all the experts I have spoken to about this bird are 100% convinced it
is a Northern Pintail. 

So this takes the list to 704. But I was following the 1994 checklist. With
the new Chrisitidis and Boles checklist coming out in 2008, some species
were lumped and some subspecies that I had seen were promoted to full
species. Following the new checklist, my Big Twitch list now stands at 709.
The birds I lost were Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo and Lesser Sooty Owl. The birds
I gained were: Variable Goshawk, Short-tailed Grasswren, Kalkadoon
Grasswren, Kimberley Honeyeater, Western Wattlebird, Pacific Robin and
Buff-sided Robin. (7 additions and 2 subtractions to a list of 704 equals

The worst dip I had on subspecies promoted to full species staus was on my
last day in Darwin in the second half of December. I had heard that both the
local Rufous Fantail and Grey Whistler might be split but I only had time to
look for one. I chose Grey Whistler which was remained lumped while the one
I didn't look for, was togo on and become Arafura Fantail. D'oh! 

So Paul, if you and Ruth are planning on having a crack at my record, you'll
have to aim for 710!





-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Paul G Dodd
Sent: Thursday, 28 April 2011 10:30 PM
Subject: Australian Big Years

Hi birding-aussers,


Since Ruth and I completed our "VicTwitch" Big Year in Victoria last year, I
am interested in the history of Big Years in Australia. I can't find that
much information - presumably because Big Years are not pursued particularly
vigorously in Australia. Here is what I have:


Australian Records:


????: 535 Species: John McKean

1979: 545 Species: Roy Wheeler

2002: 703 Species: Sean Dooley


(All information from Sean Dooley's book, "The Big Twitch")


Victorian Records:


2006: 336 Species: John Harris

2009: 345 Species: Tim Dolby

2010: 389 Species: Paul Dodd & Ruth Woodrow


South Australian Records:


2010: ??? Species: Kay Parkin


Local Records:


2010: Hunter Valley: 343 Species: Mick Roderick


Does anyone have any other information, history or other details on birding
records in Australia?


Paul Dodd

Docklands, Victoria



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