As this is my last week in Melbourne I am taking stock of my two years in the
deep and dark south before heading back to the, for me, more hospitable north (I
have never come to grips with the Melbourne climate).
As I think I have stated in a posting of my 1999 highlights my birding
opportunities in Melbourne have been somewhat limited for various reasons.
Nevertheless, I was always going to see a few new species by virtue of my doing
very little birding south of border, or south of Sydney come to that.
My new birds in the last two years were: Black-faced Shag, Cape Barron Goose,
Hooded Plover, Fairy Tern, Orange-bellied Parrot, Blue-winged Parrot, Song
Thrush, Rufous Bristlebird, Crested Bellbird, Chestnut Quail-thrush, Mallee
Emu-wren, Striated Grass-wren, Striated Field-wren, Rufous Field-wren,
Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, Greenfinch.
My most enjoyable birding trip was to the NW Victorian mallee in October 1999.
This was also probably the only purely recreational birding trip (four days)
that I have done in the last two years. The influx of birds into the mallee at
this time has been well documented on birding-aus but for me the number, and
extent, of Budgerigars was memorable. Other highlights included getting out to
Mud Island several times, the Werribee farm and a family weekend across the
Great Ocean Road (Rufous Bristlebirds are VERY charismatic).
The 1999 Twitchathon with a brand new team that had really only met personally a
week previously and bursting with enthusiasm was a wonderful experience. An
untried route starting in the mallee resulted in all four members of the team
getting new birds, Striated Grass-wren and Pied Honeyeater for me. Thirty odd
new birds for Stuart must be some sort of Twitchathon record. Missing out on
the best bird of the Twitchathon (Pied Honeyeater) when we decided that Striated
Grass-wren was better (considering the degree of difficulty that we had seeing
the two species) was a talking point at the end of the day. The Black-tailed
Upstarts were far from disgraced and clearly demonstrated that you needn't be a
hardcore twitcher to participate.
"The Great Regent Honeyeater Hunt" series of visits to Killawarra State Forest
in NE Vic. were well worth organising. Over 40 birdos helped out on three
weekends over the winter of '99 search this magnificent Mugga Ironbark forest
for Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots. The company was great and the birds
fantastic. Those that were there on the June long weekend won't forget it in a
hurry. Officially the best start to the snow season in a decade, we resorted to
building a fire in the open-sided "shelter" to keep hypothermia at bay.
Nevertheless, most of us stayed in good spirits. Other trips to the NE in
search of Regents were also memorable, be it to Chiltern or other obscure
locations such as Bobinawarrah and Lurg. Helping plant thousands of trees for
Regent Honeyeaters and other threatened fauna at Lurg in 1998 with over 100
other enthusiastic people (I was the only birdo!!!) demonstrated that
individuals can help make a difference. The social aspect of these events has
to be experienced. Unfortunately other commitments prevented me from getting to
the 1999 Lurg plantings. Over 60 000 trees and shrubs in the ground in five
years is an amazing feat, and it's far from finished.
While in Melbourne I was guest speaker at a number of the Field Naturalist Club,
Bird Observer Club and Birds Australia meetings from Albury to Ocean Grove and
Moe to Bendigo and Ballarat. Invariably, the people I met were enthusiastic,
full of knowledge or keen to learn about Regent Honeyeaters.
There is perhaps one piece of unfinished business left. I still haven't seen a
Pink Robin. This is primarily because I haven't taken the time to chase one
down. These things tend to take a lower priority in my life but I think I am in
a slightly better position to see one here than in Dubbo. If I'm not forced
into having to further organise the house for the removalists tomorrow I might
take the family up to Toolangi for an evening picnic and a bit of robin
For those who are interested my new email address from next week will be
This may not be immediately available so if the
message bounces try again another time. My work with the Regent Honeyeater
Recovery Effort will continue. Administration of the project is merely changing
agencies. Keep those Regent sighting pouring in.
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