The Biggest Day.

Ted Parker and Scott Robinson at Cocha Cashu

by Gunnar on December 9, 2011 · 18 comments

in Birding Neotropics

Tribute to Ted Parker.

It is soon 30 years since legendary neotropical superbirder Ted Parker set the amazing record of 331 species in 24h at Cocha Cashu together with Scott Robinson. The year was 1982. Scott has later told me that they had around 300 species already by 11 AM, and that they from then on searched for more birds rather casually. They did not have access to terra firme and did not use motorized vehicles.

The record was beaten in Kenya by  John Fanshawe and Terry Stevenson who recorded 342 birds on a single day, but also using light aircraft.

I have often thought that these records could be beaten in Peru with modern playback equipment.   In fact, I was in contact with Des Callaghan of Birdlife International to try to raise the money needed to do a Big Day in Peru in 2001, and use the event as a fund raiser for a BirdLife International project.  It never materialized, because the important part of that project was to get a large TV network to buy the rights to broadcast, and we never managed to convince the TV people that this would have a huge public. In the end I guess they were right.  Birding on television will never attract a HUGE public when compared to Sharkweek, Creeping Crawlies, Bloodsuckers, Vicious crocodiles and Poisonous reptiles and spiders.

Yet in 2012,  30 years after Ted Parker’s and Scott Robinson’s remarcable feat, there will be a real attempt in SE Peru not only to break the Peruvian record, but also have a go at the World Record.

My friend Skip Nelson in Las Vegas had an idea how Big Days in mega diverse areas could be incorparated as a  product for birders, and although we offered the BIG DAY tour to Los Amigos, we have not tried it out yet.  In 2012 it will be a bit different.

The Biggest Day Tour and Workshop 2012

This is how it will be different in 2012, and because of this it is practically guaranteed that it both will happen and that we will break the old 331.

  • Amazonian Birding workshop Sep 16-29, 2012. Learn how to recognise over 300 bird species on call and short cuts in identifying Woodcreeper, Antwrens and Foliagegleaners. After the workshop, you’d be in position to lead groups in SE Peru lowlands in the future.
  • Place: Explorer’s Inn – 50 km of trails, highly diverse and less expensive than Amigos, giving the final client a better price.
  • 24 paying participants.
  • 8 leaders.
  • Big Day for the clients on Sep 25. Three clients per leader, forming 8 teams.
  • Big Day competition USA vs Peru on Sep 27.
  • Guides of USA team:  Scott Robinson (University of Florida), Rich Hoyer (senior birdguide with Wings), Andrew Spencer (recording virtuoso Tropical Birding guide) and Tayler Brooks (Rio Cristalino guide and legendary sharp ears).
  • Guides of Peru team:  Gunnar Engblom, Alex Durand and Antonio Coral (all three Kolibri Expeditions) and Omar Diaz (Tambopata Bird Club).

Birding Adventure TV

I had just gotten the idea together, when I got a Facebook message from James Currie of  Birding Adventure TV, asking me for filming ideas in Peru.  I mentioned this idea and he loved it.
What James is doing with this program is fantastic and quite dearing. It may not bring as large audiences as the unleashed wild and dangereous nature films, but it may bring enough.  And it shows birds and birding to a larger audience.

It shall be very exciting to see this project run through. Also, I am wondering how one would film a BIG DAY and make it interesting? Your ideas could help us. Let us know in the comment section below.

If you want to participate in the workshop and be part of this historical event and go birding with some really top birders, send me an email to kolibriexp@gmail.com. Pricing of the tour shall be similar to that of other tours in the area with a fantastic ratio of 3 clients per guide.

UPDATE:  A description of the workshop and pricing can now be found on the Kolibri Expeditions website.

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  • Kesslerco

    To get an idea about how a Big Day might be filmed, check out “Opposable Chums: Guts & Glory at The World Series of Birding.”

    http://Www.opposablechumsCom

  • http://profiles.google.com/birdingisfun Robert Mortensen

    Wow! That sounds so fun. I wish I had the time and money. Count on me around 2040 to break the record with ya in Peru!

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Sure, no problem.I’ll be 80 then Robert! :-)

  • http://www.pbase.com/alex_vargas/raptors_owls_nightjars AlexVargas

    Cool… I regret to be at the other side of the world… once again… Have fun!

    Something really cool, would be to make a big Bird-Photo day… where the team (2-3 photographers) that returns with the largest amount of species in keeper frames, win… You can even give 1, 2 or 3 points for certain birds, depending on how hard/easy are to find and photograph… I bet a lot of fevered Photogs would love to play that game… I would!

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      I like the idea Alex. Maybe we could organize it together? Maybe a way to promote Satipo road in Peru.

  • naturelife_5

    Amazing, that would be great!, I am sure Peru can break the actual record of birds seen in 24 hours.

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

  • naturelife_5

    Interesante, me gustaría poder participar, vivo en Cusco.

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

  • Pingback: Twitcher Without a Name | Confessions from a Peruvian Birding Couple

  • Steve Huggins

    Gunnar, as a life lister who doe not count ‘heard’ birds it would be great if one or more teams could compete but do a big day with ‘seen only’ birds! 

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Steve
      During the 9 days before the first try all the birds are being trawled for to see. There should be around 400 species seen for all. I guess the clients could try to do a BIG DAY with seen birds during the BIG day of Peru vs US goes on. Everyone should have the skills by then.
      Gunnar
      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Steve
      During the 9 days before the first try all the birds are being trawled for to see. There should be around 400 species seen for all. I guess the clients could try to do a BIG DAY with seen birds during the BIG day of Peru vs US goes on. Everyone should have the skills by then.
      Gunnar
      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Steve
      During the 9 days before the first try all the birds are being trawled for to see. There should be around 400 species seen for all. I guess the clients could try to do a BIG DAY with seen birds during the BIG day of Peru vs US goes on. Everyone should have the skills by then.
      Gunnar
      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

  • Pingback: Best bird of the world | A birding blog by Gunnar Engblom

  • Cesar Flores

    Excelente idea!!!!  I would like to see/review dairy synopsis of what is going on! Who, saw what were and when….. I believe TV rights may prevent this but it is an option worth to explore.
     Also, it is time to set a big event as a Facebook or Google+ event (both!).  Looking forward to get more updates!

    • http://www.kolibriexpeditions.com/birdingperu/blog/ Gunnar Engblom

      Hi Cesar

      I am sure we shall be able to do updates continously during the prep days, but less so during the actual BIGGEST DAY. However, it is likely we shall be doing the last hours near Puerto Maldonado and we could do updates via FB, Twitter and Google Plus.
      Thanks for the tip. Surely we’ll make it an event on Facebook and Google+
      Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

  • http://www.facebook.com/dewald.swanepoel Dewald Swanepoel

    Any news on this endeavour? Should be very interesting to hear what transpired.

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