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Ontario birding record set after man travels more than 90K kilometres

Jeremy Bensette, second from the right, has travelled more than 90,000 kilometres across Ontario since Jan. 1 and set a new provincial birding record.
Jeremy Bensette, second from the right, has travelled more than 90,000 kilometres across Ontario since Jan. 1 and set a new provincial birding record. Jeremy Bensette / Facebook

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 the province and was hoping to make it 345 on Monday afternoon chasing a sighting of a yellow-throated warbler in Waterloo, Ont.

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

READ MORE: Birding hobby soars in popularity across North America

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

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The rarest bird he logged so far this year was a Violet-green swallow, which Bensette says was only the third sighting ever in Ontario.

Bensette says he doesn’t know the monetary cost of his quest for what the competitive birding community calls a “Big Year,” but says always being ready to rush off to a rare sighting has taken a physical and psychological toll.