Birds - on and off beaches

Subject: Birds - on and off beaches
From: (Russell Woodford)
Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2002 23:51:26 +1000
Point Addis and Ironbark Basin, west of  Bells Beach and Torquay (Vic), are 
well-documented already for the ease of seeing Rufous Bristlebird (and the 
maddening possibilities of Powerful Owl, which I think is only ever seen by the 
people who live in those superbly-placed houses on Jarrosite Road).  A lot of 
people may not realise that the beach stretching from the point back towards 
Bells is a well-used "free" beach.  It's also a popular family beach, as it's 
long enough to accommodate all users.  Those wishing to go for a more complete 
tan/case of  skin cancer just wander further along and find a quiet spot at the 
base of the fantastic cliffs.  You'll get funny looks if you are seen carrying 
big optical aids into the scrub above the beach.  There's a great lookout (we 
started the twitchathon there once) where you can often see Peregrine, Hobby or 
Brown Goshawk, and almost always Nankeen Kestrel.  Just point your optical aids 
demonstrably towards the cliffs!

This topic reminds me of another intersting "birding" experience - my wife is a 
rower, which is fine by me because there are birds at most venues.  We went to 
see the World Championships in Vienna in 1991.  They were held on the Nue 
Donnau Canal, which is obviously not bad for rowing, and has a good assortment 
of woodland birds in patches, plus some waterbirds.  It's also the local mecca 
for nudists, whose interests are regarded as much more mainstream in Austria.  
They're also very protective of their turf, and refused point blank to move to 
another place, despite the presence of several thousand invaders and a minor 
contingent of the world's sporting media.

"Refused to move" really is the best way to put it.  Despite dozens of people 
with binoculars (fairly useful for watching rowing events, if you think about 
it) and massive packs of cyclists (spectators were allowed to ride on the 
towpath just behind the coaches), the locals insisted on putting their towels 
or banana lounges in "their" usual spot, whether or not it was on the towpath.  
So we had several hundred brown bodies,  50 or 60 cyclists following each race, 
coaches watching their crews and yelling encouragement, and everyone dodging 
those who refused to give up their tanning space.  There were a couple of 
crashes, and I know of at least one Aussie coach who was yelled at for not 
watching his crew - but remarkably few of the sort of injuries one might 
imagine in this context.
And I didn't really feel comfortable dragging out the bins between races (I was 
on a bike too) so I only saw birds big enough to identify with the naked eye.  
Umm.  I really think I should rephrase that.


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