Insanely Dedicated Man Becomes World's Most Successful Birder

<p>Wikimedia Commons</p>
<p>Wikimedia Commons</p>

If you think birdwatching is all about enjoying nature, walking around in the woods and marveling through binoculars at a nice blue jay, think again. High-level birding is a real contest, with birders racing around the globe to document their sightings, and one Massachusetts man just set the new record for most species ever spotted in a year by a North American birder.

Neil Hayward, British-born but residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recorded almost 750 species in 2013. Here's what Hayward's year looked like:

He spent 195 nights away from Cambridge, drove 51,758 miles, was at sea for 147 hours over 15 days, and flew 193,758 miles on 177 flights through 56 airports.

Hayward, a former managing director of a biotech company, now works as a consultant, which means he can dash off to the airport whenever a new species is spotted. "We could be sitting in a coffee shop and I'd get an email about a sighting and I'm off to the airport," he told the Boston Globe. "It's been impossible to plan really much of anything but the same day."

Hayward kept an account of his year on a blog, as well as an exhaustive account of specifically where and when he saw each species of bird.