A Leamington man has completed a five-year journey tracking down one species of bird for each of the world's 234 bird families.
Todd Pepper, an avid bird watcher, started his quest after retiring from the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority. At that point, he had already tracked bird species from 144 bird different families.
Many of those families he managed to spot in Leamington, which attracts plenty of species to the region every year.
"There were a lot of people at the time trying to reach 7,000 birds in the world, 8,000 birds in the world, but they were all multi-millionaires, had lots of money and lots of time," Pepper said.
Questioning his sanity
Pepper decided to limit his quest to finding one bird from each of the world's bird families. When he first came up with his plan, there were just 212 families of birds identified in the world.
As the Leamington man mapped out his journey, another 22 families of birds were created, making his goal all that more challenging.
Thirty of the world's bird families have just one type of bird in them, meaning Pepper had to travel far and wide to find them.
"You have to organize yourself. There's one bird in Myanmar and one bird in China. They're sort of close to each other," he said.
The last bird Pepper checked off his list was the Przevalski's finch, which lives in the mountains of China.
Some locations brought him to some rough terrain.
"You're up to your waist in bugs some days, and you really do question your sanity," he said. "But I managed to avoid snake bites and spider bites and most other things, which is good."