The Biggest Day Master Plan

by gunnar on September 6, 2012

How you gonna do it?

I never said it was going to be easy, but taking into account what Scott Robinson stated in the previous post. Try to visit as many types of habitat as possible! Ted Parker and Scott had had 300 species by 11 AM by following that same strategy. Having said that, they did not have access to Terra Firme or Savanna habitat like us. Hopefully, we can also stake out some area with hummingbird feeders, even though I have little hope Explorer’s Inn will get their feeders working.

So our goal on September 27 must be to get 300 species by 1 PM, because then follows the beauty of our strategy. But before I reveal our killer trump card, let’s go through  the first part of the plan.

  • 00.00-02.00. In order to hit more habitats for nightbirds we shall start nightbirding in Puerto Maldonado to try to target some special nightbirds such as Zig Zag Heron, Rufous Nightjar, Spot-tailed Nightjar, Little Nightjar, Barn Owl and Burrowing Owl. It may even be possible to spotlight some ducks and least grebe in the wetlands.
  • 02.00-3.30 transfer to Explorer’s Inn on the river picking up Ladder-tailed Nightjar and hopefully Boat-billed Heron on the way.
  • 3.30-5.00 Nightbirding around Explorer’s inn concentrating on owls, potoos and nightjars not heard in Puerto Maldonado. We should have several species staked out.
  • 05.00-9.00 crucial moments covering as many habitats as possible picking up the dawn chorus.
  • 09.00-09.30 Boat Transfer to Tres Chimbadas lake downriver via a small parrotlick hide at Explorer’s inn for some additional parrots we may not have seen or heard.  On the river many species will be added such as Yellow-billed and Large-billed Tern, Drab Water-Tyrant, several Swallow and some overflying raptors.
  • 09.30-9.45. At Tres Chimbadas there is some excellent bamboo, but we shall run through this just noting the birds that spontaneously call and try to be at the lake shore no later than 9.45.
  • 09.45-10.15. Hopefully we can arrange for kayaks which which will be much faster than the canoe catamaran to cover the essential areas of the lake. Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Snail Kite, Horned Screamer, Rufous-sided Crake, Unicolored Blackbird, Hoatzin and others.
  • 10.15-11.00. Getting remaining species in the bamboo by playback.
  • 11.00 to 11.20. boat to Puerto Maldonado port. Twitter and Facebook Update
  • 11.20-12.50. Birding sites at Puerto Maldonado. Savanna species and various stake-outs.
By 1 pm we could have 300 species having visited a large number of habitats and stake-outs within this time.  I counted up of the 630 or so birds in Tambopata and around Puerto Maldonado we can find relatively easily 375 of those by voice or vision stake-outs.  300 by 1 PM should not be impossible.

The rules are? There are  no rules!

I was a bit concerned about what rules to apply. May I use moterized vehicles? Can I fly? May one use playback? Are birds at feeders countable? Does it have to be a team of at least 2 or 3 people? Can I employ scouts? Can I use local guides? Can I employ guides actually staking out birds for you when you get to site?

Then I realized there are no rules for a world record attempt to see or hear as many birds as possible in 24h, except exactly that: To hear or see maximum number of birds in the 24 hours. Parker and Robinson did it on foot and by paddling canoe in Manu.  In Kenya John Fanshawe, Andy Roberts and Terry Stevenson got 342 species using light aircraft. During their Big Year (The Biggest Twitch) around the globe Alan Davies and Ruth Miller used local guides from professional tour companies pointing out the birds for them.

The trump card to beat the world record lies in using two commercial flights to Cusco and to Lima.  While birding at each site will be shortened and lack of daylight will be a problem we also gain daylight by starting in the east and finishing in the west.  And many of the birds in Lima wetlands can be spotlighted at night. Here is the rest of the plan.

  • 12.50-13.10. Puerto Maldonado Airport. Only hand luggage for fast check-in. Sometimes Buff-bellied and Upland Sandpipers can be found on the airfield.  Twitter and Facebook Update. Goal 300!
  • 13.10-13.45. Flight to Cusco airport. Sleep.
  • 13.45-15.45. Birding near Cusco. Huacarpay lake and other nearby sites.
  • 15.45-16.05. Cusco airport.
  • 16.05-17.05. Flight to Lima. Sleep.
  • 17.05-17.40. Transport to Ventanilla. Food.  House Sparrow, Pacific Dove, Eared Dove croaking ground Dove, Kelp Gull on the way
  •  17.40-18.20. Ventanilla. Still daylight/dusk. Try to get as many seabird over the ocean as well as passarines during this time.
  • 18.20-24.00. Ventanilla, La Punta, Pantanos de Villa, Pucusana and parks in Lima.  Ducks, gulls, terns and waders can be spotlighted.  Some additional owls and nightjars such as Pervian Pygmy Owl, Barn Owl, Burrowing Owl and Band-winged Nightjar. Food in car while driving and some naps.
  • 24.00. Champagne and count up!
A Kolibri Expeditions cap to the person who can guess the right number of species. In the comment section below.
Top photo: Inca Tern by Alejandro Tello. A definite trump card on The Biggest Day. We should be able to get the Inca Tern either over the sea at Ventanilla in Lima or perched in the port.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: