Twitching
[ Issue 29 ]

Twitching fascinates Emily Bronto

Let Bikwil introduce you to Twitiching

Twitching

Giorni here introduces us to the outdoor pastime of Twitching.  Like many obsessions, it has its own vocabulary.
 

Sightings of rare species can be very unpredictable – the idea is to have a good network in order to learn quickly of any rare sightings and drop everything immediately to chase down that elusive tick

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Twitching — Giorni

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Birdwatchers would be familiar with the word “twitching” “or “twitcher”.

It refers to a birdwatcher adding to his bird list. All serious birdwatchers keep a life list of bird species that they see (or “twitch”) during their birding pursuits. Keeping a life list becomes an interesting and challenging obsession. In tracking down target species there are no guarantees that a particular bird will stay in one area or even turn up when it is expected. Just to catch a glimpse of a rarity can be a real buzz, but to get a “crippling” view (i.e. to really see the bird close up and for a good long viewing time) would be the ultimate in sheer delight for a birdwatcher.

The word “twitching” — the act of ticking birds for one’s life list comes from the fact that birdwatchers (or “twitchers”) are so excited at the prospect of adding a new bird to his/her life list that they actually develop a nervous twitch in anticipation. Also the possibility of missing out on seeing the bird adds more stress and anxiety. A new bird added to one’s life list is called a “lifer”.

Sightings of rare species can be very unpredictable – the idea is to have a good network in order to learn quickly of any rare sightings and drop everything immediately to chase down that elusive tick. Some rare birds will only stay a short while in one spot before moving away. If you miss out on seeing the bird then it means that you have “dipped”, if your friends see it and you don’t — then they have “gripped” you.

Most people would think bird watching is a quite, relaxing pastime but it can be very stressful if it is taken too seriously. Many friendships have been strained and even destroyed because of being “gripped” off.

Bird watching, like any obsession such as golf, fishing, etc. is also the cause of many bird watching widows and surprisingly bird watching widowers. More and more women are being bitten by the bird-bug. When there is the chance of a “lifer”, everything else (family, work, friendship) comes second.

“Twitchathons” are held regularly in Australia and around the world. These are fund raising events where teams compete against each other to “twitch” as many species in a 24 hour period as possible. Sponsors are invited to donate a sum of money per each species sighted — similar to a Walkathon or Readathon.

In Australia the record number of different species sighted in a 24 hour period is about 210. The distance covered in that time is around 300 – 500 kilometres visiting as many varied habitats as time allows.

Bird watching may sound weird but it is great fun, a fulfilling and a wonderful pastime. It has given me the opportunity to travel everywhere in Australia and to some magic places overseas.

So, if you hear a “twitcher” say that he “gripped” off his “birdo” mates by getting “crippling” views of a “lifer” while others “dipped out” you will have some idea of what it means.

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