The "Champagne Race" of the NSW Twitchathon has some very strict rules.
Time off for lunch, morning and afternoon tea and no driving through the
It doesn't mention what to do with torrential hailstorms.
The Rylstone Curlews are having a meeting next week to consider officially
changing their team name to the Hail-Stone Curlews or to celebrate the fact
that we tied for first place - "Hail ! Stone -Curlews".
According to the MET Office the storm was centered on Springwood in the
Blue Mountains. We were there when it hit but luckily seemed to avoid
the worst of it.
However as we were travelling east to take up position at McGraths Hill STW,
so was the storm, which caught up with us several times through the
As the starting time approached, so did the storm again, but this time
into a black violent electrical event. We were surrounded by bolts of
Our Team Leader, terrified of lightning, was quaking in her boots and we
long enough to tick a handful of the promised birds that had not already
fled in terror.
Despite this start we stuck to our plans and over the next 24 hours,
a very creditable 139 species. Our basic route was the Hawkesbury- Blue
Mountains - Capertee Valley. Three nicely differing habitat types, but
with plenty of time to have the required breaks and still take time off
to enjoy some of the birding highlights.
These included -
Banded Lapwing ( a new bird for me, TH)
Latham's Snipes - amazing close up views of a pair on the ground.
Tawny Frogmouth - A pair, with one nesting
Square Tail Kite - Nominated for our rarest bird, first spotted by Jill
Dark at Min Min
Turquoise Parrot - Nesting bird with 3 (?) babies in a fence post stump
at Min Min -
Nominated for birding moment of the year! (Lynda was looking over a
fence, when the bird flew out inches from her hand. A quiet peek into
the hollow revealed gaping mouths. We moved off and were happy to see
the parent bird return shortly after.)
The hailstorm and then violent electrical storm while birding McGraths Hill.
And, as all twitch teams experience, the large number of birds -
# Only seen by one member
# Seen just after the cutoff time
# Very common species not seen at all. (The Capertee Valley was
unusually quiet, with our regular Honey Eater count the next day coming
in at two thirds the normal numbers.)
Well, there's always next year. We plan to tweak the route a little and
will organise better weather.
I've put a couple of twitch photos up on the web
"I'm a Rylstone Curlew"
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