eBirding the World Big Year – July Update

By Team eBird August 17, 2015

Drakensburg Rockjumper at Sani Pass, Lesotho

In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting to become the first person to see 5000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! Noah is now almost two-thirds through 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, and Europe, tallying a fantastic 3996 species – well over halfway to his goal. 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 July here!

Birding in South Africa

Birding in South Africa

This month I birded through parts of Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, and Madagascar, with the most time spent in South Africa. In July I submitted 211 eBird checklists and saw 694 species of birds, 460 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 3793.

I saw fewer total species in July than any other month thus far, but because so many West and South African birds are endemic, two-thirds were new for the year – and it was a great month! After a relatively rough nine days in Cameroon, South Africa was a welcome change of pace and scenery. I also hit a new milestone in South Africa: For just a couple of weeks, I experienced winter for the only time this year. (By the time I reach Australia in December, it will be the height of summer there.) During a day trip to the mountains of Lesotho, I even went birding in a snowstorm.

A Southern Ground-Hornbill crosses the road at Kruger National Park, South Africa

A Southern Ground-Hornbill crosses the road at Kruger National Park, South Africa

I’ve hit the “long middle” of this year – the period between halfway and the home stretch when it’s no longer a new adventure but the end isn’t in sight yet. In any timed pursuit, on whatever scale, the long middle is mentally challenging – marathoners dread miles 15-20, when the legs tire but the finish line still seems so very far away. At the beginning of the year, I wondered how I’d deal with this stretch, but shouldn’t have worried: Every day brings so many new sights that I can’t help but stay stoked! A big year of birding on any other scale (within one state, for instance) would begin to drag about now, because most possibilities would already have been exhausted, but not so with this project. Taking on the whole world has its perks.

A Mountain Robin-Chat at Mount Cameroon

A Mountain Robin-Chat at Mount Cameroon

With seven months down, things are still running smoothly – no health issues or serious setbacks. In the remaining months of 2015, I will continue through Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the UAE, India, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia, with perhaps a couple of cameos thrown in. Bring on the birds!

A White-capped Albatross flies in front of a Black-browed Albatross off the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

A White-capped Albatross flies in front of a Black-browed Albatross off the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa