Crikey, Channel-billed Cuckoos and "the new birding"

To: "'Tim Dolby'" <>, "'bob gosford'" <>, "'NT Birds group'" <>, "'Birding-Aus \(Forum\)'" <>, "'COG list'" <>
Subject: Crikey, Channel-billed Cuckoos and "the new birding"
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 16:09:05 +1100
G'day Tim,

While the call of the Eurasian Cuckoo has resulted in the writing of much
fine prose and music I suspect "On Hearing the First Channel-bill in Spring"
is more likely to result in the throwing of cans and stubbies rather than
the consumption of their contents.

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Tim Dolby
Sent: Thursday, 14 January 2010 2:09 PM
To: bob gosford; NT Birds group; Birding-Aus (Forum); COG list
Cc: Land for Wildlife; Dave Watson
Subject: Crikey, Channel-billed Cuckoos and "the new

G'day Bob,

You mention that they Channel-billed Cuckoo were moving south into Victoria.
Here's a bit of rundown on where birds have been seen i.e. type of tree and
the relationship to people. Interestingly Channel-billed Cuckoo were almost
always observed in towns rather than in the bush. Of course this may be
purely circumstantial i.e. there are more people in a town; however in
Victoria there seems to be a very definite link to the urban habitat type. 

In the last few years in Victoria the greatest number of records has come
from Metung and most in Moreton Bay Fig on Mairburn Road. They are also
regularly recorded in Lakes Entrance, for example in 2007 they were recorded
at Wyanga Park Winery where someone observed a Pied Currawong feeding grapes
to two immature Channel-billed Cuckoos. This suggests that they were
breeding in Victoria. They have also been recorded at the Marlo caravan
park, and feeding in Moreton Bay Fig adjacent to the Kingsway shopping

Out of interest (and this is something close to my heart) there's an old
English tradition to stop work upon hearing the first cuckoo and claim the
day as a holiday. You would then go and drink ale out of doors to welcome
the bird, a custom known as 'Wetting the Cuckoo'. For example, when the
first cuckoo of the spring was heard, some people would take a barrel of
beer into the woods (where it the bird was calling) and drink the health of
the cuckoo. 

>From now on this is exactly the approach I'll be taking upon hearing my
first Channel-billed Cuckoo for the year. A very "refreshing approach to
birding" ;-)

Thanks for your comments on Crikey NT, and hope you got your cuckoo-shrike. 



-----Original Message-----
From:  on behalf of bob gosford
Sent: Tue 12/01/2010 11:36
To: NT Birds group; Birding-Aus (Forum); COG list
Cc: Land for Wildlife; Dave Watson
Subject: Crikey, Channel-billed Cuckoos and "the new birding"
Dear all,

Some of you may know that I present a weekly '*Bird of the Week*' segment on
ABC Alice Springs Local radio 783 with Alice Brennan - we are having a bit
of a break over the Xmas/NY period.

I have written for ** (and  have a Crikey blog - *The Northern
Myth <>* where I've written about birds
& ethnoornithology from time to time) for a few years now and have been
asked to do a regular fortnightly piece for the daily Crikey email piece on,
well birds - focusing on a species at a time.

The first of these - to run on Monday next week - will look at the
Channel-billed Cuckoo, *Scythrops noveahollandiae*. I'm aware of the recent
posts about C-b C's turning up in the outskirts of Melbourne and would
appreciate any updates on whether they've made it into the inner suburbs
yet. I'm also interested in any insights into connections between local
Aboriginal language groups and the Channel-billed Cuckoo - I already have a
substantial amount of information on this issue but welcome your further

I'm also interested in any further anecdotes etc that you may think relevant
- anything at all really - pithy, funny, sad etc etc.

Another thing I am interested in following up on is what can be loosely
described as "new birding" - for many people birders in general birders are
viewed as being not that far from trainspotters - old, boring and with a
tendency to OCD - but my recent feeling is that there is a new cohort of
younger people (in mind and/or body) that have a refreshing approach to

I don't have much more than a feeling about this and would welcome any views
either way - my impressions come from the humour and enthusiasm of people
like Sean Dooley - which is coupled with sufficient birding rigour for them
to be credible - and from conversations with a number of people who talk
about a shared enthusiasm for birding amoung their friends & cohort - but
are largely disconnected from the established institutions of Australian
birding - like BA, Birding-Aus etc.

Hope this stirs a few people into thought & action.

Please feel free to pass this message on or to break this up into its
various component parts for further discussion - and if you want to get back
to me directly my best email is 

Cheers and enjoy - I'm off to chase down those Ground Cuckoo Shrikes just
outside of the Alice again! And to keep an eye and ear out for the two (at
least) C-b C's here in Alice.

Robert Gosford
The Northern Myth blog
Yuendumu, NT
Ph: (+61) 0447024968

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