The Puny Twitch heads East.

To: Birding_aus <>
Subject: The Puny Twitch heads East.
From: J and A Flack <>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 17:11:25 +1100 (EST)
G'day All,

We've all experienced it. You know the sort of thing,
"You should have been here yesterday! We were kicking
the Ground Parrots out of the way to make space for
the tripod and scope so we could check out all the
Painted Snipe only to find our view obscured by flocks
of Orange-bellied Parrots...". Well, with the Puny
Twitch (my Dools inspired quest to see 80 species in
inner Melbourne this year) stuck on seventy, I decided
to cycle the extra long way home, via the Yarra river
and Merri Creek then double back to take in Carlton
and Parkville. About 35 kilometres without one new
bird for my list! On arriving home my wife Jan says,
"You left five minutes too early this morning, there
was a Grey Butcherbird singing its heart out in the
school ground next door." It's been several years
since we've heard one anywhere near our place!

After this debacle I was rapt to find that next time I
checked my email there were quite a few responses to
my request for Red-browed Finch locations (thanks
again guys!). Several of these were very detailed
indeed and most centred on the Studley Park/Dights
Falls area (approximately 5km East of Melbourne's
CBD). They also gave me some idea of what other
species I might expect there.

After mulling over all this great feedback, I decided
to concentrate my 'eastern campaign' at Galetea Point
in Studley Park. This is a small tongue of
remnant/reveg bushland (approximately 5 hectares)
formed by a loop in the Yarra River. Access is off a
road, which is closed to vehicles, that continues to
another point. After passing through a small gate
which excludes bikes, a dirt track leads you down a
narrow ridge to a grassy flat. With this limited
access and being almost surrounded by the river, with
lots of parkland beyond, this is a secluded little
sanctuary - one I never knew existed before. Although
this wasn't the best site for the finches there were
good prospects for several extra ticks.

After only three visits to Galetea Point I had added
significantly to my tally. Sacred Kingfisher (a pair),
Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Yellow Robin, Laughing
Kookaburra and Crested Shrike-tit all came fairly
easily. Brown Goshawk took a lot more effort but
eventually resulted in excellent (or should that be
crippling?) views. Fan-tailed Cuckoo was a real
surprise. After hearing it call it took a bit of
finding, as they often do. Still no Red-browed
firetails, though I have no doubt I will catch up with
them while cycling home along the Merri one evening.

To my surprise, on one visit, I bumped into another
birdo (not a birding-ausser), almost on dusk. He had
been monitoring this point for nearly two years and
was very generous in parting with his local knowledge
so I now have a few more leads to follow up. While we
were chatting I pointed out a Grey Shrike-thrush and
was surprised to discover that it was a first for him
for this area. So we parted with a local tick for him
and me being happy that I had been in the right place
at the right time!

I recommend, as others have recommended to me, that
Galetea Point (and all the surrounding area) is well
worth a visit for some Eastern inner city birding.

Oh yes, I finally got the Grey Butcherbird at
Westfield Reserve, Fairfield. It flew from the ground
into a mulberry bush as I approached. As you would
expect it disappeared into the foliage. As I continued
riding around with my binos swinging from side to
side, trying to get a better look, it moved to stay
one step ahead of me. After going round and round the
mulberry bush a few times I remembered the old nursery
rhyme and decided it might be time to leave the
several bemused onlookers and continue on home.


Alan Flack - Yahoo! Movies
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