NSW & ACT 2020 Twitchathon

Brought to you by BIGnet, A Loose Affiliation of NSW & ACT Birdwatching Clubs and Organisations

Saturday 31st October and Sunday 1st November

Dear birder, welcome to the NSW and ACT 2020 Twitchathon.  Sadly with all the problems that organisations are experiencing from the lock down in Victoria, as a result of the Covid 19 virus, BirdLife recently decided that they were just unable to run this event in 2020.

The Twitchathon has been running, in NSW and the ACT now, for close to 30 years. In this time we have, between us, managed to raise very significant funds for a range of conservation projects. At the BIGnet meeting in early September the members decided that we should take up the running of the Twitchathon for 2020 to maintain this event and raise funds for the project that had already been selected.

So here we are, running a little late with the organisation and getting mailings out to teams. However keen to see if we can raise another $20,000 this year. As a result of the tight time schedule and Covid 19 there will be some changes to the Twitchathon this year. However the premise remains the same, have fun, go bird watching, raise some funds for a worthwhile project and keep safe while you do so.

While 2020 has been dominated by Covid 19, last year was dominated by bush fires. Huge swathes of our country were burnt and myriad animals lost their lives. So how appropriate that our chosen project this year is The Origma Enigma – Where are NSW cryptic birds after the bushfire and how can we save them?” The project is focussed on the Origma, Rufous Scrub-bird, Eastern Bristlebird and Ground Parrot in sites ranging from Jervis Bay to the Scenic Rim. Surveying these species and understanding current population levels and locations is key to their survival along with habitat recovery and a better understanding of behaviour. This very worthy project will support their recovery.

We are maintaining the same Twitchathon formats as in the last few years, but with some modification.

  • The Big Weekend will be a 30 hour mega twitch for the crazy and dedicated with a target well above 200 species being their goal.
  • We have reverted to the name Champagne for a more sedate and now 8 hour event for those who want something more relaxing and sedate.
  • Finally the 3 hour Birdathon is also retained. This offers something for a whole range of participants, from experienced bird watchers who don’t have the time or inclination for the Big Weekend to the novices looking for a chance to cut their teeth.

In the past we have encouraged teams including or totally comprised of children. Much as we would like to be able to cater for our younger bird watchers this year, we just don’t have the capacity to handle this. We would hope that this segment is back in 2021. If a family group, where a parent or guardian leads the team, wish to participate in the above events, then you are welcome to join us.

One of the other things that we do not have time to organise is the sponsorship and prizes that have been on offer ever since the inception of the Twitchathon. Apologies for this. We hope you will still want to be involved for fun and conservation regardless. There’s always the kudos of raising the most funds, recording the most species, finding the rarest bird, getting the biggest bang for your buck from the fewest kilometres travelled and sadly the biggest dip. We’ll still publicise your sterling performance.

There are a couple of things to be finalised, a web page to access the rules, checklist etc. We have the page but it is empty as yet. Also the mechanics for fund raising. Again, we know what is happening and I’m hoping to have the final details by the end of the week.

However time is a wasting and I want to get the outline and dates to you now as we only have six weeks till its Twitchathon time again. So put these dates in your calendar.

Saturday 31st October

Sunday 1st November

By now I hope you’re all raring to go, so here’s how. Attached to this e-mail is a registration form. Rules, species list, and sponsorship details will be available within a few days. Chase up your team and start your planning. And of course don’t forget the fund raising. I’m sure we all remember how awful those fires were and most of us will have been impacted one way or another. But also remember our birds suffered more than most of us, they need our help and the Origma Enigma will go some way to support some of those most severely impacted. Let’s see if we can pass the $20,000 raised in previous years.

Peter West – NSW & ACT Twitchathon Coordinator