Mission statement

Big year in the Western Palearctic

Mårten Wikström, Claes (Klacke) Wikström, Erik Rask

A couple of years ago, the three of us did a birding trip to Texas, all of us had read the book Big Year and we had also thoroughly enjoyed the movie with Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin.

When we arrived at High Island with the iconic water tank, the idea of doing a Big Year  in the Western Palearctic was first briefed.


The US birders have their area, called ABA and they do Big Years in that region. We europeans have a birding area, called WP – Western Palearctic and quite a few european birders maintain a WP list. I do. To our knowledge, no one has ever attempted a full Big Year in the WP region – that is what we’ll be doing in 2017.  New Year will be celebrated in Kuwait city, and on January 1, the hunt is on.

The goal is to see as many bird species as possible in WP during 2017.

What is WP? In short it is Europe extend, in the east it’s bordered by the Urals, ranging into western Kazakstan down to the Caspian sea,


Northern Arabia, North Africa, all the Atlantic Islands as well as Europe proper.

We will follow the borders as defined by  “BWP” (Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palearctic)

The borders are indeed confusing, Mathieu Wald has a nice writeup where he tries to explain the borders at https://thelittlestint.blogspot.se/2018/02/the-boundaries-of-western-palearctic.html


9 thoughts on “Mission statement”

  1. Congrats folks about this crazy idea to do a WP Bird Year!
    The only concern I would like to say is that you are using local guides (some are the most known on the market) to tick species : this is not a good starting point for a BY, IMHO.
    Self found species would be a much great effort but extremely fascinating and for very though birders.

    1. Haha, we have a hard time seeing someone doing a BY with fewer guides than what we have used.

      – Barak Granit, Nubian Nightjar in Israel. Site is not accessible without Barak.
      – Hamid Gbt showed us the Egyptian Nightjar. This was last resort, we searched many nights for that. Agreed, lame.
      – Basar Safak graciously volunteered to show us the Caspian Snowcock, it was just nice and we would have easily found those ourselves. We stayed at his nice pension too, recommended.
      – We’ll also use windbirds on Madeira, truly looking forward to it.
      – Kazakstahn and and especially Russia cannot be done without local help.

      Sofar we have been shown 5 species out of 611, not so bad ehh ?

  2. 656 species and it increases slowly but surely. What is the official record before you try so we know when you intend to open the champagne to celebrate that goal. :O).
    Fight on and good luck

  3. Congratulations on reaching the 750 species mark, an amazing achievement after some really hardcore birding, well done!

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