Man travels more than 90k kilometres to set Ontario birding record - InfoNews

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Man travels more than 90k kilometres to set Ontario birding record

A 27-year-old Ontario man has become the province's top birder after travelling more than 90,000 kilometres since Jan. 1. Jeremy Bensette, of Leamington, Ont., has spotted 344 species of birds in his travels. He is seen with a spotting scope in an undated handout image in Point Pelee National Park. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jeremy Bensette, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
November 28, 2017 - 5:50 AM

A 27-year-old Ontario man has become the province's top birder after travelling more than 90,000 kilometres since Jan. 1.

Jeremy Bensette of Leamington has spotted 344 species of birds in his travels across Ontario and said he was hoping to make it 345 Monday afternoon chasing a sighting of a yellow-throated warbler in Waterloo, Ont.

It was first seen in the area about two weeks ago, Bensette said.

"I went and bought a bunch of bird feeders and bird seed and hung it on the trails there in hope that the birds would be attracted to it and it would come back and two weeks later, after not hearing a word about it, it's back," he said.

Bensette said he has been seriously bird watching for about six years and earlier this month broke the record of 343 species set by his friend Josh Vandermeulen in 2012.

Bensette said he has driven so far this year he had to borrow a family member's car Monday to meet up with fellow birdwatcher Tim Arthur of London, Ont., because his was in the shop.

The rarest bird he logged so far this year was a Violet-green swallow, Bensette said.

"The Violet-green swallow was the third ever recorded in Ontario," he said.

Bensette said he doesn't know the cost of his quest for what the competitive birding community calls a "Big Year."

"Monetary costs — I've actually specifically not been looking," he said, adding that he guesses he has spent more than $7,000 on gas alone chasing bird sightings that have taken his to all but one county in the province.

"There's a bit of a psychological and physical health costs for all the times that I've skipped nights because I was driving through the night" to get to sightings, he said.

Living in Leamington, Bensette was near Point Pelee National Park, which boasts numerous bird species and draws birdwatchers from all over the world, particularly during the spring migration.

Bensette credits Bruce Di Labio of Ottawa, "one of my main mentors," with helping him with his record year.

"He was one of my main supporters through this whole year," he said. "He found some very key rarities ... that I have been able to catch up with, kind of the only chance to see a few of them."

Bensette said he has photographs of all but about 10 species he has seen this year, but "some of them are not photos to write home about."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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