Birder's Guide

OCT 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 21 of 51

Biggest My Year My Biggest Year 20 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2017 use of guides. Because of a young American birder named Noah Strycker, I had to alter these humble plans just a tiny bit. Sometime in September 2014, I tweet - ed that 2016 would be my Biggest Year. I would try to beat the standing world re - cord of 4,341 species, set in 2008 by the British couple Ruth Miller and Alan Davies. Half an hour later, I received a phone call from Swarovski Optik offering to sponsor me with their sublime optics, an excellent start! That night I couldn't sleep as I thought about the huge task at hand. Exactly how huge became apparent the next day when a friend sent me the following text: "Do you know that some American kid will be doing a world Big Year in 2015?" I imme - diately looked up Noah's custom page on the Audubon website, and a quick glance at his itinerary made me realize that "this kid" was serious. I had to step up my game. Over the course of 2015, I contacted guides all over the world, made deals with multiple spon- sors, and constructed a mammoth itiner- ary. Meanwhile, Noah's list kept growing and growing, and on the 31st of December 2015, he finished his Big Year with a whopping 6,042 species. He had success- fully completed his quest. Mine was just hours away from beginning. The following are just a few excerpts from the travelog of my Big Year. 1 January 2016 THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS 117 species I just spent most of New Year's Eve folded over the toilet. I don't think I have ever felt this nervous in my entire life. Around 3 a.m. I decide to grab some fresh air, and as I open the door to my rooftop terrace, I hear a familiar sound, a Eurasian Robin! I grab my phone and add the sighting on IObs [a European analog to eBird and iNaturalist]; bird species number one is a fact. I finish day one with no less than 117 species, a huge number for a winter day in the Netherlands. 20 January 2016 EAGLE NEST WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, ARUNACHAL PRADESH, INDIA 667 species "That looks like a landslide," says Peter Lobo, a legendary pioneering bird guide and expedition leader for northeast India. Indeed, there is a huge mass of snow and fallen logs blocking the only road back to civilization. We clear the landslide with our bare hands and battle on. The Himalayas have just been hit by a freak blizzard, mak- TOP TO BOTTOM: n Palawan Peacock Pheasant. Photo © Max van Waasdijk n Whitehead's Trogon. Photo © Max van Waasdijk n Shoebill. Photo © Arjan Dwarshuis n Dawn on the first morning of 2016. Photo © Vincent vd Spek

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