I try to photograph birders in the habitat they're birding in when we meet. It seemed fitting to photograph Olaf at an airport. Committed to a 2016 Big Year, he's all-in: 34,000 air miles and 22 airport connections in 55 days is crazy, but it's what it takes to break the Big Year record. It can be done, and he will do it. The question is: How badly will he break it? I'm guessing by at least 9, plus a couple provisionals. The birds (and Records Committee) will have the final say. He's doing very close to exactly what I'd be doing if someone wrote me a check and said "Go for the Big Year record". (Any volunteers? I have a 5-figure budget in mind...)
I wanted to bird with Olaf at some point this year, writing him into my story of my Big Year. I'm hoping to meet as many Big Year birders (past and present) as part of The Birding Project. Since I have very limited funds I'm not as financially capable to chase birds as he is. I currently can't compete with him; therefore I want to help him break the record. I'm sure we'll cross paths throughout the year- birds really do bring people together.
Olaf has had an interesting birding career, including doing a "nude big year" in 2013 when he saw 594 species au naturel. He's full of stories and random geology facts that inspired me to question the landscape we live in, and to ponder the changing world birds and humans are adapting to living in together. I've written in a previous post about our birding adventure in Florida, and look forward to watching his list grow as the year goes on.
Stay tuned, for another post as Olaf and I discuss how the movie “The Big Year” compares to doing a Big Year in real life!