Armchair Bird Twitching

Twitching is alive a well in Australia.

Over recent years there have been a number of well documented rare bird sightings in our country. Each of these has resulted in birders – twitchers – heading by car or plane to cross vast expanses of countryside just to “tick” a rare bird off their list of birds seen.

Then a few years ago we had Sean Dooley’s celebrated “The Big Twitch”. Sean spent a whole year – without any income – travelling the country trying to break the unofficial record for the most species seen in Australia in one calendar year. This adventure resulted in a very popular and entertaining book of the same name.

Every year various state bird organisations run twitchathons, 12 or 24 hour events where car loads of birders race around trying to see as many different species as possible in the given time. Some are having second thoughts about this concept. Sure – it raises lots of money for bird conservation. But at what cost? First there is the expense of fuel, then there are the extra carbon emissions racing around the country.

Someone has suggested that these events should be confined to birding on foot or bicycle. I like another suggestion; it appeals to the lazy birder in me.

The Armchair Bird Twitch

At least one birding organisation is organising a twitch where you stay in one place throughout the duration of the twitch. The Armchair Twitch details can be found here. I find this idea a great one – just get a few birding friends together with plenty of food, drinks, comfortable chairs and a place with a good view of birds.

What more could you want – ah, yes, a toilet nearby would be essential I guess.

Related articles:

  • Twitcher: someone who is prepared to travel great distances or go to great effort or expense in order to see birds, often just a single bird, that they have never seen before so that it can be marked on their list of birds seen (called a “tick” or “lifer”). The word ‘twitcher’ might have originated from their propensity to develop a nervous twitch until the rare or desired bird has been ticked off their list.
  • Twitching: the habit or behaviour of some very keen or compulsive birders, ‘twitchers,’ who must travel great distances or go to great effort in order to see a rare or unusual bird, or a species they have never seen before.
Golden Headed Cisticola

Golden Headed Cisticola


5 Responses to “Armchair Bird Twitching”

  1. Corey says:

    I loved that book. Especially being from the states as it introduced me to lots of new birds.
    And the armchair twitch sounds a lot like the big sit.

  2. Snail says:

    The armchair twitch sounds like a hoot. I’m very impressed by that Hervey Bay team.

  3. Trevor says:

    I must try this sometime. It sounds very relaxing. Actually, come to think of it, I have probably done something very similar on many occasions when out camping. I just called it relaxation.

  4. Christopher and Zan says:

    Saw what I thought was a Regent honeyeater in Brighton South australia last week.
    I read there is only thousands left in Eastern Australia. Has anyone seen one in South Australia?

  5. Trevor says:

    Hi Christopher and Zan,

    Thanks for your email.

    Your sighting is exciting and could be a very significant one.

    Two things:
    1. Can you check in a field guide and compare what you saw with the common New Holland Honeyeater. There is a difference in size but at first glance they are somewhat similar.
    2. If you are convinced it was a Regent Honeyeater, it is worth reporting as this is a very rare sighting. Regent Honeyeaters have been recorded in the Adelaide Hills and on the plains but I can’t recall any sightings in decades. You should report your sighting to Birds SA
    Go to the contacts page where there are email links and phone numbers. More experienced people than me can then deal with the details.

    Sometimes rare sightings are aviary escapees but that is unlikely with this species. Because of its rarity, very few are kept in captivity. I do know that both the Adelaide Zoo and Cleland do keep this species.

    Hope this helps.

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