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 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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