eBirding the World Big Year – November Update

By Team eBird December 11, 2015

Whitehead's Trogon, Borneo

In 2015, Noah Strycker has been traversing the world, seeking to be the first person to see 5000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! He passed that on October 26, and is now heading for 6,000. 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 5,605 species through Dec 9 – exceeding his target, and a new world record for the most bird species seen in a single year! Congratulations Noah! 6,000 is still possible, and we’ll see how this last month goes. 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 November here!

I spent this month birding through Thailand, Sri Lanka, peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Bali. In November I submitted 130 eBird checklists and saw 661 species of birds, 360 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 5,420.

Progress has been very steady this year: I reached the first 500 birds on Jan 22; a thousand on Feb 14; and passed subsequent 500-species marks on Mar 6, Apr 14, May 16, Jun 17, Jul 12, Aug 17, Sep 27, and Oct 27. This would have predicted at least 5,500 by the end of November, but things slowed down a bit; for the first time, I didn’t hit a 500-species milestone this month. The 661 total birds I saw in November was the lowest of any month this year, and the 360 new birds was third lowest.

Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie

Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie, Sri Lanka

The islands off southeast Asia aren’t generally as biodiverse as their equivalent continental tropical zones, but they are loaded with endemics and I’m now island hopping to scoop up as many as possible! In this regard, November was brilliant – probably the best month of 2015 for range-restricted species. Some of my favorite endemics this month were the Sri Lanka Blue-Magpie, Whitehead’s Trogon in Borneo, and Elegant Pitta in Sulawesi.

I have also been using eBird’s new media upload tool to add photos to checklists. It’s fun! Here is a checklist from a great day in Borneo’s Kinabalu National Park (https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25892448), and here’s one from Hutan Lipur Sungai Chongkak outside Kulala Lumpur, Malaysia (https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25810747). Adding photos is now super easy. If you haven’t tried it out yet, give it a shot!

Elegant Pitta, Sulawesi

Elegant Pitta, Sulawesi

With one month to go, it looks like I may just barely reach 6,000 birds this year – or fall a little short. It’s gonna be close. Either way, it’s hard to believe how 11 months have passed in the blink of an eye. Australasia still lies ahead and I will go hard until the end. The next update here will be my last… Here comes the home stretch!