Not exactly winter, but I did see an Azure Kingfisher on the Ovens River in
Wangaratta (less than 1 km downstream from the old Highway bridge in the middle
of town) back on 15 April. I can remember seeing an Azure Kingfisher at Howlong
in August many years ago, and I think at least one or two of my Shepparton
records over the past few years have been winter time - would have to check. I
must admit, I had not really thought of Azure Kingfishers as being migratory in
the same way as say Sacreds. How far do Azures usually go?
I'm interested in your Bittern record, too. I made about 20 visits to Reedy
Swamp (the one a few km north of Shepparton - I'm sure there are plenty of Reedy
Swamps scattered about the landscape!) over the period since 1995, mostly early
morning but a few in the evenings, but only once, last summer, did I hear what I
can only presume was an Australasian Bittern. I would have thought something
like Reedy Swamp would have been the sort of habitat any self-respecting Bittern
would drool over. Then again, in all those visits, I only once saw a single
Crake. I'm in the process of writing up my Shepparton records - hope to
complete later this year.
Highlight for me of last Saturday morning's Lyrebird survey in Sherbrooke was
hearing from close range the falling bomb call of a Sooty Owl as the dawn came
up. Hearing at least three Lyrebirds after that was just the icing on the cake.
Good to hear the Common Driving Petrel-heads will be up and running again this
year. Likewise the Norwegian Blues, slightly embarassed winners of last year's
Champagne Race in Victoria (only two competing teams) will be out there also.
There is plenty of scope for more entries in the Champagne Race - we only start
on the Sunday morning, having other commitments on the Saturday afternoon, and
get no further from Melbourne than Kinglake National Park, Balliang East and
Werribee WTC. We have a lot of fun, working to a (more or less) strict
timetable, with morning tea surrounded by the Christmas Hills dawn chorus and a
leisurely lunch overlooking the mouth of Little River (generally with a glass of
riesling rather than champagne, but that's just our preference). The main
point, though, is several hundred dollars' worth of sponsorship that wouldn't
happen otherwise, and is dependent only on our score, not whether we win. The
more competition, the better!
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