From Dec 26, 2017 through December 25, 2018, I made a quixotic attempt to identify at least 2,500 species over the course of a single year, while working normal full-time hours. I called this a “Global Big Working Year” or GBWY.
In the end, I reached 1,770 species, which was just over 70% of the goal. As the plot below shows, the pace at which species were accumulated slowed appreciably in the second half of the year. This reflects the fact that we eventually ran out of sufficiently varied destinations/habitats that were feasible for weekend trips out of Thailand. I did not account for this when drawing up my target of 2,500.
To make this effort a bit more meaningful, I donated $5 for every species I found, with the results being split between ecological and blindness-related charities. The first half of the year was in support of the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. The second half was in support of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. More details here and here.
The effort started in the Galapagos Islands and the Andes east of Quito for a few days, but the majority of the year was spent in the Eastern hemisphere, as we lived in Bangkok for almost all of 2018, for a work assignment. The sites birded there are shown below. In most cases, we had a weekend (or less) at each each locale, often with a guide, but many times on our own.
A few interesting stats and observations for the year:
Total number of lifers: 1040
Total number of planes boarded: 105
Number of weekends in which we did not board an airplane: 11
Number of vacation days used in addition to weekends: 25
Number of weekends in which we did not go birding at all: 1 (due to illness)
Total number of countries visited: 22
Number of continents birded: 5
Total number of birding guides worked with: 33
Total number of these guides that we would recommend to others: 25
Estimated approximate cost per bird: $35 (includes $5 pledge)
Most beautiful locations: (1) Balangshan Pass, Sichuan; (2) New Zealand
Locale with most new birds / day: Ethiopia (>46 species per day)
Locale with fewest new birds / day: Shanghai
Best restroom facilities: Any city / town in New Zealand. They have clean public restrooms everywhere and signs announcing them. This might be the most civilized place on earth.
Worst restroom facilities: Baihuashan area west of Beijing. Yikes.
Best food: Everything in Bangalore, India
Worst food: Cold, fried noodles in Cambodia, full of dead ants.
Most disappointing experiences: (1) Nanhui Dongtan, south of Shanghai, China; (2) Sepilok area of Borneo
Worst moments of year: (1) Late night intruder in our room in Sulawesi; (2) hornet attack in Bali; (3) that toilet in Baihuashan
Best moments of year: (1) Birding with Irene Dy in the Philippines; (2) everything in Australia
Most obnoxious dip: Red-flanked Bluetail that my wife saw but which I could not get my eyes on fast enough
Best birds: Bali Myna, Great Bowerbird, Narcissus Flycatcher
Links with photos, week-by-week summaries: