At the time of my last Puny Twitch report my tally was
82. Originally the Puny Twitch concept was to see '80'
species in inner Melbourne this year, whilst cycling
to and from work. After even more ticks this past
fortnight, and encouragement from several
Birding-Ausers, I have amended my target to 100. I
didn't think this was possible at the beginning of the
year, but with such fantastic support, I'm now quietly
confident. Thanks again to everyone who has sent
suggestions and leads.
Heading for Westfield Reserve (about 5km NE of CBD)
one afternoon I decided to take a quick look at
Galatea Point, Studley Park where I had had great
success the previous two weeks. Some of the regulars I
saw there were Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed
Scrubwren, Grey Shrike-thrush and Crested Shrike-tit.
Sacred Kingfisher was still there too. I was beginning
to think there was nothing new to add to my list when
I spotted a Darter's head, complete with long writhing
neck, protruding from the river (Yarra). I only got a
brief glimpse before an approaching kayak made it
dive, but long enough to see that it was a male. When
you see darters like this you really appreciate why
they are also sometimes known as 'snake birds'.
I was getting a better view of the Darter after it
returned to the surface when I heard a familiar voice
from behind. It was the local bird guru that I
mentioned in a prior report. He told me he had been
watching a 'family' of Collared Sparrowhawks nearby at
lunchtime. They were about two kilometres away (back
the way I'd just come of course!) so off I pedalled.
He said that they'd been moving about in some large
pines at the start of Yarra Boulevard, Kew. (Adding
that they would be easy to locate because of the noise
of their begging young.) When I arrived I discovered
that there were dozens of large pines and no sound of
any birds! I wandered back and forth, looking up (and
down) along this linear plantation for about 15
minutes. The best I could come up with was a family of
maggies. The Sparrowhawks would have to wait.
So it was on for a spot of 'thornbill ticking'.
Neville Pamment told me of a good site for Yellow,
Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbill at Westfield
Reserve. It's a narrow strip next to the Merri Creek,
well treed with (mainly) black wattles, and with high
steep banks on each side. A beautiful old bluestone
bridge (Heidelberg Road) blocks access at one end
leaving this a wonderfully secluded little inner city
My first visit a week earlier was one big dip. Not
only did I miss the thornbills but there was nothing
else except several menacing looking Kookaburras
(which I already had). This visit was totally
different. The kookas were still there but so were
dozens of very noisy Rainbow Lorikeets! It was almost
dusk, so I think they may have been squabbling over
roosting spots. As I moved along, thinking I would
never hear the thornbills, I slowly left the lories
and their din behind.
After spending quite a while in the fading light and
still no sound apart from the creek, I was beginning
to get desperate and decided to try and call the
thornbills in. Now my calling-in is 'legendary'. Jan
always says that I scare more birds away than I
attract! But having nothing to lose I started making
exaggerated kissing noises. To my stunned surprise a
very large male appeared from around a bend in the
path. The catch is, we're not talking Acanthiza
species here, we're talking Homo sapiens! Just when I
thought I was about to become a statistic, I realised
that he was more concerned by this crazed twitcher
than I was about him. He gave me a very wide berth and
we passed without a word!
It was obvious that this guy what must have been what
was keeping the birds quiet. As soon as he left they
seemed to come from nowhere in a noisy mixed flock.
Yellow Thornbills in the upper branches,
Yellow-rumpeds in the lower. I suspect there was a
Brown as well but I couldn't get a positive ID. Just
when I thought I had exhausted the area a solitary
Red-browed Finch popped up out of the grass. At last!
I was beginning to think these colourful little
characters were going to be a bogey bird for me.
So with my list suddenly increased by three and
wondering what will be my next tick. I am -
Still at large,
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