In 1998 I visited Townsville in Queensland, it was shortly before new year. I bumped into some local birdwatchers and went out with them on Townsville Common. Like most birdwatchers I meet, they were very generous with their knowledge, you can’t beat local knowledge, and they put me onto some other birds to tick off before heading back to Victoria.
Amongst themselves topics of conversation included the start of the new year, the start of a new year list and preparation for a game that they played among themselves. You were in the game on January first. To stay in the game you had to have added at least one species to your year list for each day elapsed. They were plotting a big day out for that first day. A one hundred bird day would see them safe until the beginning of April. The last one to go out would be the winner or by reaching 365 (plus one in a leap year) there could be any number of winners. They were laughing about who had lasted how long in the year then coming to a close.
They restricted the game to birds seen in Queensland. It would be tough but not impossible to see 365 species in a single year in Victoria, my home state. McGee’s Victoria list stands at 386 but that includes birds that don’t turn up here every year. McGee’s Queensland list stands at 438 despite the fact that he only spends a small fraction of his time there.
Since then I have played the game privately, allowed myself the whole of Australia to play in, and it is one measure of how successful a year has been. If I allowed myself the whole world to play in it would be just too easy, this year’s world total was 632 (with 12 hours to go). However my birding within Australia has been confined to Victoria, no further east than Melbourne. I was out of the game by the end of June.
I won’t be posting for a couple of days …