Garry Bagnell is cruising down a country road in Great Yarmouth, England, when his beeper lights up with a bulletin. A shorelark – a distinctive bird with yellow and black markings – took a wrong turn somewhere over Norway and is getting its bearings on a beach an hour's drive north. Time to step on the gas.
"I need that bird, I need it," said Bagnell, a 46-year-old accountant and hardcore practitioner of British twitching, or extreme – and extremely competitive – birdwatching. "When a bird you haven't seen drops, you've got to chase it. That's going to bring me up to 300 [different species] spotted for the year. You don't understand how competitive this is. For some people, this is life and death."