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Big Twitch: One Man, One Continent, a Race Against Time-A True Story about Birdwatching

Overview

As a self-proclaimed twitcher—a birdwatching extremist who travels around the country trying to catch a glimpse of as many species of birds as possible—the author took a year off in 2002 with the goal of seeing 700 birds and thereby breaking the national record for most birds seen in one year. In this amusing memoir, he recounts his quest, including how he spent all of his inheritance from the untimely death of his parents to make his dream a reality. Populated by unusual characters and interesting species ...

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2006 Paperback New One man's quest to realize a boyhood dream of breaking the Australian twitching record.

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Overview

As a self-proclaimed twitcher—a birdwatching extremist who travels around the country trying to catch a glimpse of as many species of birds as possible—the author took a year off in 2002 with the goal of seeing 700 birds and thereby breaking the national record for most birds seen in one year. In this amusing memoir, he recounts his quest, including how he spent all of his inheritance from the untimely death of his parents to make his dream a reality. Populated by unusual characters and interesting species of birds, this part confessional–part travelogue for both bird nerds and the general population follows the author as he works out what it means to be normal despite his unusually avid compulsion toward twitching.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Birder Sean Dooley is a self-proclaimed twitcher. For the uninitiated, "twitcher" is jargon for a birdwatching extremist who is willing to travel any distance to visually "bag" a new species for his or her list. In this lighthearted travelogue/memoir, Dooley relives his marathon attempt to glimpse 700 bird species in a single year.
Booklist
"His hilarious commentary on his own sanity will keep even the non-birding reader in stitches. Prepare to laugh out loud."
Publishers Weekly
Dooley makes his living in Australia writing television comedy scripts, but his real passion is bird-watching-in fact, he'll frequently "twitch," dropping whatever he's doing to travel hundreds of miles for a brief glimpse of a recently sighted rare species. In 2002, he set out to break the record for the most birds spotted throughout the Australian territories in a single year. The effort to track down more than 700 species takes him from a sooty owl sitting on a tree branch in the early hours of New Year's Day to a blue-faced parrot finch climbing a blade of grass on Christmas Eve. Stories about frustrated efforts to spot various birds show a winning humor, but without any pictures of birds or their habitats, all the locations start to blur together. The amiable, conversational tone keeps the story from getting dull, and the Aussie cultural references are easily deciphered, but Dooley's accomplishment in the end feels anticlimactic. (Aug. ) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Dooley, a vastly entertaining and energetic young television comedy writer, spent 2002 traveling all over Australia. His goal was to set a record for the most bird species seen there in a year. Dooley smashed the old record, tallying an astounding 703 species. What it cost him was 150,000 kilometers of travel, total exhaustion, most of his inheritance, and a limited social life. However, his lively, witty book well describes the satisfaction, happiness, sense of self-reliance, and peace that can be realized by achieving one's goal, especially if, as in Dooley's case, the goal is a difficult one. Full of easily digested and interesting explanations for nonbirders, this tale of Dooley's epic year should appeal to a wide audience. His glossary (here called "glossowary," a play on the name of the ostrichlike Australian cassowary) defines the titular "twitch" as "the act of chasing after a rare bird." Much of the book's humor derives from the author's relations with nonbirders, especially his difficulties securing girlfriends, who are usually put off by his avocation. A fine, picaresque adventure, well told; highly recommended for larger public libraries and natural history collections. [For another tale of obsessive birding, see Dan Koeppel's To See Every Bird on Earth.-Ed.]-Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781741145281
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Dooley is a comedy writer for television. He has worked as a stand-up comedian and has performed a one-man show about birdwatching.

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Table of Contents

A foreword for birders
A foreword for non-birders
Glossowary
Prologue 1
1 New Year's Eve 2001, Bunyip State Park, VIC 7
2 15 July 1980, Nicholas Hall, Melbourne, VIC 13
3 3 June 1996, Collingwood, VIC 25
4 1 January 2002, Melbourne General Cemetery, VIC 41
5 4 January, Seaford Swamp, VIC 47
6 13 January, Chiltern, VIC 58
7 19 January, Bunyip State Park, VIC 66
8 26 January, Wollongong Pelagic, NSW 74
9 3 February, Norfolk Island Botanic Gardens 81
10 10 February, Hospital Swamp, VIC 92
11 17 February, Slim Dusty billboard, Pacific Highway, NSW 95
12 15 March, Christmas Island Detention Centre 107
13 23 March, Gluepot Reserve, SA 117
14 30 April, Barren Grounds, NSW 126
15 9 June, Pirates Bay, Eaglehawk Neck, TAS 137
16 24 June, Pemberton, WA 144
17 14 July, Port Augusta, SA 152
18 16 July, Stuart Highway, 19 km south of the NT-SA border 160
19 30 July, Edge of the Simpson Desert, NT 169
20 5 August, Yaningurie Waterhole, SA 177
21 14 August, Cairns, QLD 182
22 26 August, Saibai Island, Torres Strait 194
23 9 September, Mission Beach, QLD 205
24 16 September, Lamington National Park, QLD 217
25 28 September, MCG, VIC 224
26 17 October, Lord Howe Island 227
27 1 November, Nullarbor Plain, SA 236
28 7 November, Shoalhaven Heads, NSW 245
29 16 November, Broome, WA 253
30 21 November, Mount Carbine, QLD 260
31 29 November, Kununurra, WA 268
32 3 December, Kakadu National Park, NT 275
33 14 December, Mount Isa, QLD 283
34 20 December, The Green House, Iron Range, QLD 289
35 24 December, Mount Lewis, QLD 294
Epilogue 299
Bird list 302
Acknowledgements 321
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