The countdown has started. Just nine days to go before the greatest adventure of my life starts. I feel the tension building up in my bones. Especially since Noah is closing in on that 6000 marker, raising the bar to an all-time high for me… It is important to not let that be a setback, in the contrary, it motivates me even more! If he can get 6000 species in a single year I should be able to do so as well and even add another 2- or 300 species to the grand end total.
Just under a year ago I gave a talk on the Dutch Birding Day. Back than my ‘Biggest Year’ was still just a crazy idea. 23 countries in one year. A road trip from Nairobi to Cape Town and similar road trips through South America, North America and Australia. Doing things on a low budget and without guides. I guess one could say I had to slightly adjust that plan... My new itinerary includes 41 countries and is supported by 70 of the best local guides in the business. Simply because my old plan would not have been a record breaking one. If I can physically and mentally keep myself together for a year, this plan sure as hell will be!
An important reason why I was able to step things up a notch was the fact that the Dutch media started to pick up on the project. Over the last couple of years birding became a hot topic following the ‘organic revolution’ as I would like to call it. Nature is trending and so is bird watching. A catalyst in this process was of course the television show ‘In de ban van de Condor’, yes that same show where I went of my rocker and acted like a crybaby in episode four. Note to self: Keep your composure and count to ten in the future…
That media exposure helped a lot with finding sponsors. Of course several sponsors already supported me from the get-go, but these were mainly companies that already had a strong interest in birding and since the project gradually expanded both financially and logistically I had to find myself some more backing, otherwise I would not end up in the red after a solid year of birding, but in the dark crimson!
Luckily the pieces of the puzzle are falling in to place just prior to the start of my quest and I can positively state that I am good to go! I’m really excited about the fact that my good friend Max van Waasdijk made the crazy decision to join me for the first two and a half months. Besides having somebody to share the experience with and have a laugh with Max is a talented bird photographer. So make sure to check-out his blog over the course of the next 3 months, cause there will be some mouthwatering pictures dripping of your computer screen!
Besides Max more than 20 different Dutch birders will join me somewhere along the line. This has some great advantages: extra pairs of eyes, people who can take over planning when I have no access to internet and of course the necessary mental support to keep me going! Great to have you guys aboard! We Dutch birders can be proud of the fact that we are such a tight group, unique in the world of birding…
Last but not least. With this record attempt I hope to raise global awareness on our planet’s enormous biodiversity and the fact that we have to start building on attitude change if we want to preserve this biodiversity for future generations. During my Biggest Year I will interview some of the world’s leading conservationists and researchers, many of which are Birdlife Species Guardians. These interviews will play a central part in my blog, vlogs en columns. In addition to this I will raise funding for the groundbreaking Birdlife Preventing Extinctions Programme, the last line of defense for many of our most threatened birds. My aim is to raise over 100.000 Euros in a single year.
Now follows some important info if you want to make sure that you won’t miss anything of the Biggest Year:
As of now Tilt manages my fundraiser for the Birdlife Preventing Extinctions Programme. Make sure to contribute and help save our planet’s most threatened birds!
Observation made sure you can keep track of all the species I record via this link. Via a simple mouse-click you can decide whether you want to see the list in taxonomic- or chronological order. Every month I will post a short English written blog on the website of Swarovski Optik.
I will write a monthly column in Dutch for ROOTS magazine and post a monthly Dutch spoken vlog on their website.
Every two weeks I will post a Dutch spoken vlog on the website of Binnenstebuiten.
I will write a mothly blog for ATPI.
You can follow me on Twitter via @ArjanDwarshuis.
You can follow me on Facebook via ‘The Birding Experience with Arjan Dwarshuis’.
You can follow me on Instagram via @arjandwarshuis.