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Biggest Twitch
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The Biggest Twitch in the news!

Rock PipitFirst thing this morning we were out and about again, but this time not to follow a bird but to buy a newspaper. After a long telephone interview and a photo shoot, we’d been led to believe we’d be featured in today’s Daily Mail. Sadly nothing on us, though a long piece on ‘the menace of seagulls in our towns’. A bit of internet searching however threw up an article that they wrote at the end of last year, which we’ve copied below. But still hopeful that they’ll use their new material in the Sunday paper, it looks like we’ll be dashing down to the paper shop again tomorrow.

Here's the article we found:

British couple break world twitching record after selling their house to fund round-the- world tour

29th December 2008

A British couple have broken the world record for the highest number of different bird species spotted in a year, after selling their house to pay for a round-the-world tour. Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, who met through their work for the RSPB, sold their house in Llandudno, North Wales to fund their trip, which took them from humble British back gardens to Arctic ice packs. The couple, who have just trekked round the jungles and mountains of Asia and are now in South America.

They have followed bird migration patterns world-wide, in countries such as Finland, Ethiopia and Canada, visiting some of the earth's most dangerous places. The couple broke the record after spotting a Bluebonnet parrot in Australia. On Christmas Eve they announced on their blog that their tally currently stands at 4,265 different species, easily breaking the previous record of 3,662 set in 1995.

And as they begin to explore the remote jungles and swamps of Ecuador, their count is rising day by day. Ruth, 44, said 'Knowing we've beaten the world record feels pretty good. It's been quite a tough challenge.' The record won't go into the Guinness Book of World Records, as it would have needed an independent adjudicator. Instead, they have tried to photograph or film as many as possible to prove their claim. In a recent blogs, the couple told how they arrived from India to spend a few days in the UK before jetting off to South America. On visiting an area of mixed woodland at Bodelwyddan Castle the pair spotted a marsh tit which had thus far eluded them.

Currently in southern Ecuador, they are touring the jungles with Nick Athanas from Tropical Birding in their bid to add yet more species to their list. Their blog reads: 'Undoubted highlight was having excellent close-up views of the Black-and-white Tody-Tyrant. 'We also found Rufous-winged Tyrannulet and enjoyed further views of such charismatic species as Vermilion Tanager, Green Jay, Saffron-Crowned Tanager and further views of Lafresnaye's Picculet.

'We then began looking for our next target bird. We heard a distant call and with intensified scanning, located a glowing red-and-yellow blob sitting on top of a tree down below us. 'Through the telescope it transformed itself into a stunning Red-Hooded Tanager, what a beauty! Luckily the bird was inclined to show off and we watched it for ages in the bright afternoon sunshine.' Despite the fact that their mission was fraught with difficulties, Mr Davies told how their passion for the subject kept them going: 'The reason to suffer altitude sickness in the Andes to see an Ecuadorian Hillstar, trek across the Karoo desert in 45C to glimpse a small grey Eremomela, empty my stomach over the side of a small boat with engine failure just to see an Isabelline Wheatear. To see birds in wonderful places is what I live for.' 'Birds are my passion, always have been,' he continued. 'From a very early age, birds have been the focus of my life.' Prior to the tour, Mr Davies managed the RSPB reserve at Conwy on the North Wales coast, and oversaw its development into a popular visitor attraction as well as a haven for wildlife.

Miss Miller had been the RSPB's head of trading before moving to North Wales. She said: 'I'm always looking for something new, to see what's just around the corner. I walk along looking at life rather than where I' m putting my feet, and if it' s flying, crawling, growing or flowering, I want to take a closer look at it, even if I don't know its name. 'When I'm old, I want to be able to look back on my Big Adventure. The chance to see exciting destinations and wildlife is irresistible, and if I can go round the world with Alan seeing the most bird species ever in a single year, so much the better!'

Pretty good article, and most of it’s even accurate! Three readers added their comments below: “Now that's what I call having a passion! They're living life doing what makes them happy. Congratulations and good luck to them both!” - Carol, Adelaide, South Australia, “A wonderful story. People out enjoying life and getting the most out of it.” - Kieran, Tokyo, Japan, “Plenty marsh and crested tits over here. Nutcrackers and woodpeckers are quite shy . I had Two Sea eagles soaring over my garden (A Forest) this evening.

Welcome to a birdwatching paradise... “ - Mr Blonde, Afjiord Norway

What do you think? For more articles in the Daily Mail, click on

But being housebound through admin doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy great birds too. As we walked the few yards to the newsagents, a Peregrine Falcon screamed overhead causing mass panic amongst the pigeons on the rooftops of the town, a Rock Pipit shot across the road just outside our front door, and Fulmars made their clumsy landing approaches onto the cliffs of the Great Orme headland towering above us. Back at the desk we have a great view out of the window over the town and we’re keeping a hopeful watch for Waxwings which may still be in the area – all very distracting when we’re supposed to be writing the book of The Biggest Twitch. How will we make our August 2009 deadline at this rate?!

Posted 10th January, Llandudno


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