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eBirding the World Big Year – October Update

Palawan Peacock-Pheasant in the Philippines

In 2015, Noah Strycker has been attempting to become the first person to see 5000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! As of this month, the 5,000 mark is behind him. Noah is now closing in on the home stretch of 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica, South and Central America, Europe, Africa, and much of Asia, tallying a fantastic 5,061 species – exceeding his target, and a new world record for the most bird species seen in a single year! Congratulations Noah! Is 6,000 possible? Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels for us each month – you can find his notes from October here!

I spent this month traveling in Asia, from Myanmar to Sichuan (China), Taiwan, the Philippines, and central Thailand. In October I submitted 149 eBird checklists and saw 744 species of birds, 498 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 5,061.

Yeah, 5,061! When I began this adventure way back in January, my goal was to see 5,000 species of birds in 2015. It seemed like an astronomical aspiration at the time, but I officially surpassed 5,000 with a Flame-crowned Flowerpecker on the Philippine island of Mindanao on October 26. With two months and a big chunk of the itinerary remaining, I can’t say for sure how many more birds might be possible before the end of the year, but it will be fun to find out!

Siberian Crane in Taiwan

Siberian Crane in Taiwan

October was a month of many highlights: Spotting birds in a snowstorm in the mountains of western China; coming beak-to-nose with an endemic Palawan Peacock-Pheasant in the Philippines; birding among thousands of ancient temples in Myanmar; paying respect to a vagrant Siberian Crane in Taiwan; and searching for Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Thailand. Along the way, all kinds of enthusiastic local birders have mixed in their talent and personality to keep up the pace.

Giant Laughingthrush in the snow in Sichuan, China

Giant Laughingthrush in the snow in Sichuan, China

I was happy to see that eBird has become quite popular in Taiwan, in particular. I spent three days there in mid-October and met more than a dozen eBirders in the field. Taiwan introduced its own eBird portal last August, fully translated into traditional Chinese, with a collaboration of the Taiwan Endemic Species Institute and the Chinese Wild Bird Federation. Many thousands of checklists have already been submitted there, and those data were a big help when planning my visit. Of the 30+ countries I have visited so far this year, eBird seems to be most popular in India and Taiwan, though I have connected with eBirders everywhere along the way. What an amazing, international network this has become, and what a great tool for the worldwide big year!

Swinhoe's Pheasant in Taiwan

Swinhoe’s Pheasant in Taiwan