Arjan's Biggest Year

In 2016 I will attempt the ultimate in global birding, to break the world record in birdwatching, this involves observing more than 6000 species in a single year!
Like my predecessor Noah Strycker I will count heard-only birds, but I will differentiate between heard-only- and seen species to make sure my list stays comparable.

During my 'Biggest Year' I will raise money for the groundbreaking Birdlife Preventing Extinctions Programme in a collaboration with Vogelbescherming Nederland and the Dutch Birding Association. This programme aims to prevent the extinction of all globally threatened bird species by applying an active, innovative and highly effective methodology.

Species List Make a donation

Arjan's Biggest Year is supported by:

He did it! Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis breaks world record

15 november 2016  ·  Vincent van der Spek  ·  26310 × bekeken

He did it! On 10 November Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis broke the world record in birding. The Northern Jacana he saw in Costa Rica was the 6.119th bird species he recorded this calendar year alone.
With this sighting he has now broken the already incredible record of American birder Noah Strycker, that was set as recent as 2015. Arjan still has another 51 days to increase his new record.

“I’m very, very pleased. Pleased that I broke the record, pleased that I broke it so early in the year. For the first time this year I had two beers instead of the one a day that I allowed myself  this year” Arjan says on Whatsapp.

“But I’m not done yet”.  

This list or that list:  it now doesn’t matter

The two fanatic world listers used different lists to keep track of their records: Noah used Clements, while Arjan used the more progressive IOC (that acknowledges more species). However, a quick calculation reveals that Arjan has now passed Noah on both lists.

Is 7000 doable?

Record or not, Arjan will press on further to increase his bird list. He has even altered his schedule. Originally he planned to visit Central-America and North America till the end of the year, but by spending less time there, he saves time to head back to Asia – the continent where he started his big adventure.

“In hindsight I should have planned more time in Asia, but fortunately I found a way to fix that.  Due to visa issues I can’t enter China, but I will go to Vietnam, Taiwan and then end the year in Japan.”       

In line with his energetic and ambitious personality, he’s set a new goal that raised eyebrows: to end the year with 7000 birds. The more serious followers on fora say it’s impossible: between 6.500 and 6.700 seems more likely. 7000 means he has to see 17 new species a day – an awful lot at the end of a big year.

“We’ll see how far I get. But I think 7000 is doable” Arjan says. “If you don’t aim high, you won’t reach high” he says with a smiley added to the message. And maybe that’s precisely what characterizes him – and got him his amazing record in the first place.  

No time for cooking just yet!

When asked if birding every day to achieve a specific number doesn’t stress him out, Arjan says: “Of course it’s stressful to have only shot at a specific target. Day in day out.”

But is he done with it, after more than ten months of straight birding?

“No way, man!”

“Of course I long to see my girlfriend, family and friends more often than I did this year. Go to a bar with friends and have more than one beer. Or god, to stay in bed for the morning. And to have time for my other big hobby: cooking. I really miss that.”

But don’t let this fool you:

“But all those things are for 2017. Mind you, I now do what I like the most: seeing spectacular birds at spectacular places. So yes, I’m still highly motivated. I love it.”

Who ever said the Dutch were cheap?

While trying to break the world record, Arjan is also collecting money for BirdLife International. Though he collected a considerable amount of money, Arjan is not on schedule for the goal he set. All of the money wired to this fundraiser goes directly to those species that are on the verge of extinction (BirdLife’s Preventing Extinction Programme).Until now he has collected 15.000 euro out of the targeted 100.000.  While the Dutch have a reputation for being cheap, they – as well as Flemish birders - have donated generously. 15.000 euros, not bad for the tiny Low Countries!
“On behalf of the birds I’d like to thank everybody who has donated. I’m sorry I did not have the time to thank everybody personally, but it’s very, very much appreciated”.

 Arjan has however reached few people outside the Low Countries – even though he’s being followed word wide by 1000s of birders. Hits on his pictures on for instance run into the 100000s. Hopefully the broken record is a very good reason to donate money for those species that really need it! Go to

 “Please donate”, Arjan says, “it’s not for me, it’s for the birds that need it the most”

If you have trouble wiring money, or do not own a credit card, please don’t hesitate to contact me at v.vanderspek at gmail dot com

 * Note that 5.000 euro is not visible on JustGiving as it was send as a cheque.


Jurgen van der Meer  ·  11 november 2016  10:42


van harte gefeliciteerd met deze super prestatie. Wat een doorzettingsvermogen, wat een enthousiasme en zeer inspirerende blog's. 

 Op naar 7K.

David Uit de Weerd  ·  11 november 2016  13:07

Gefeliciteerd! Heb bewondering en respect voor je energie en doorzettingsvermogen.

Dušan Brinkhuizen  ·  11 november 2016  23:11

Fantastisch. Zoals gehoopt hebben we nu samen het wereld record in vogelskijken ;-) Baal erg nog steeds van dat we niet samen de jungle in konden.

Eduard Sangster  ·  12 november 2016  13:28

TOPPRESTATIE !  Gefeliciteerd!!

Ronald Nuiver  ·  12 november 2016  14:34

En die 7000ste soort gaat je ook wel lukken 👍

Roel Schwartz  ·  12 november 2016  16:12

Proficiat Arjan, echt een waanzinnige prestatie waar je heel trots op kunt zijn. Diep respect voor de manier waarop je het allemaal voor elkaar hebt gekregen om het hele jaar zo gefocust te blijven.

Harvey van Diek  ·  13 november 2016  15:38

De vogelwereld, inclusief mijzelf, maakt een diepe buiging voor deze prestatie. Top, maar ga vooral nog even door. Vanaf 1 jan. mag je uitslapen...

Gebruikers van het forum gaan akkoord met de forumregels.