The Biggest Year is beginning to take shape!

It’s been a while… Well, I’ve been very busy with planning a friends’ wedding and of course my world Big Year. I’m pleased to say that both are going well! The wedding is next Saturday and we got it under control, my Biggest Year starts in January and I am very, very pleased to say that the flights for the first 3 months are booked!


Best news here is that my friend and fanatic birdwatcher/wildlife photographer Max van Waasdijk will join me for the first 2 months and 20 days! We constructed a mental schedule with help of several of my world-twitcher friends. As Noah Strycker is doing extremely well on his world Big Year and surely will set an incredible, very hard to beat record, I had to step up my game…. And so I did…


I am proud to announce the complete itinerary for the first 3 months!!!


On the January 1st I will kick off with a Big Day in the Dutch Delta, with help of my friends and top birdwatchers Rinse van der Vliet and Vincent van der Spek, Max and I hope to notch up well over 100 species on this first day. At 10 PM we will depart from Schiphol airport to our first destination: Dubai, UAE. Here we have 1,5 days to roll up as many species as possible. On the evening of the January 3th we will head for Colombo, Sri Lanka where Keith Wijesuriya and other members of the Ceylon Bird Club will help us with a quest to see all the possible endemics and wintering specialties in just 5 days! On the evening of the 8th we fly to New Delhi, India where Max and I will team up with birding buddies Sander Smit and Arnoud Postema for a 7 day trip through Sultanpur, Corbett, Pangot, Keoladeo and Chambal. On January  15th we embark on an expedition that is almost to cool to believe. For 15 days we will be in the very capable hands of the infamous Peter Lobo of The most knowledgeable birdwatcher in this part of the world constructed a mental schedule that includes the Eaglenest conservation area, the Sela Pass, Kaziranga NP and even the Mishmin hills. Peter I am honored that you offered to guide us personally!


On the evening of January 30th Max and I will say goodbye to Peter, Arnoud and Sander and depart for Bangkok, Thailand. Here we will backpack for 8 days through the following renowned birding hotspots: Pak Thale – of course for Spoon-billed sandpiper – Kaeng Krachan, Doi Chiang Dao and Khao Yai. From Thailand we continue for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For 6 days we will bird Fraser’s Hill and Taman Negara NP, both places that I know very well from previous visits. On February 12th we take a short flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah where we will do an 8 day tour through Rafflesia Centre, Mt. Kinabalu, Poring Hot Springs, Kinabatangan and the Danum Valley. From Sandakan we will fly to Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, Philippines. Here I hope to connect with my dream bird Philippine Eagle. After 5 days Mindanao we fly to Luzon and finish the Philippine tour with 2 days on Palawan.


On March 1st we continue for Jakarta, Java for a 3 day endemic-quest on Mt. Gede. From Jakarta we head for Sulawesi for 6 days of highly anticipated birding in Lore Lindu NP and the limestone forests north of  Makassar, unfortunately we had to skip Tangkoko due to logistic reasons. From March 11th to March 19th we will be in Papua New Guinea, starting in Port Moresby and including the Mt. Hagen area and the coastal lowlands of Madang. On March 19th I will say goodbye to Max and head for Brisbane, Australia. From Brisbane I will travel in 8 days via Sydney to Adelaide, birding en-route. On March 27th I will fly to Auckland, New Zealand for 2 days birding with Dutch Birder Johannes Fischer on the North Island. From Auckland I will travel back – with a 2 day birding stopover in Perth, Australia – to the Netherlands, where I will arrive on the afternoon of the 1st of April.


After another Big Day on the April 2nd, I will head for Eilat, Israel and than 3 months Africa is on the agenda!


Any information, tips and tricks are more than welcome for these first 3 months, so don’t be shy to contact me!


This itinerary would not have been possible without the help of my friends, family and Sponsors: Bruggink & van der Velde, Canon and ATPI. Next week I will give you an update about a fantastic collaboration with Swarovski Optik and the Vogelinformatiecentrum Texel! Over the course of this trip I will write a monthly article for ROOTS Magazine about conservation and the Preventing Extinctions Programme in particular. On September 6th give a talk about my planning during the Vogelfestival 2015 and during the Dutch Birding Vogelweekend from October 16th – 18th I will also give a talk about my upcoming Biggest Year.


Dutch Birding will help me to get the funding page for the Preventing Extinctions Programme online as soon as possible, I will keep you updated on that.


Ok, I hope I did not dazzle you too much with all this info, but I had to get this of my chest haha 😉


Autumn has started in the Netherlands and yesterday I had a fantastic morning’s birding with my Girlfriend Camilla. With no less than 3 different Ortolan Buntings and a Tawny Pipit I had my best morning of the autumn so far! And it was really good to be out there again with the sunrise and the Tree pipits and Yellow wagtails buzzing overhead and shrubs filled with warblers….


Life is good….

Arjan Dwarshuis
Arjan Dwarshuis