The Big Twitch- Week 2

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: The Big Twitch- Week 2
From: "Sean Dooley" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 15:36:05 +1100
G'day all,
Two weeks into "The Big Twitch" and the total has now rolled along to 164 species. But along with the mounting total comes an ever increasing list of disappointments. I am starting to dip out with alarming frequency, but luckily at this early stage, I have plenty of time to pick up the species I have missed. I won't have this luxury later in the year when I am travelling through remote areas that I won't get the chance to revisit.
So at the moment I can wear the fact that I missed out on Southern Emu-wren at Langwarrin, or on Peregrine Falcon, (despite visiting two known breeding sites) and am not panicking... yet.
Another disappointment was the cancellation of the Sydney pelagic trip due to lack of numbers- come on Sydney birders, where's your get up and go? And as I can't make the February trip ( friends want me to do a reading at their wedding- selfish bastards!) my chances of seeing Gould's Petrel and other Summertime goodies are vastly diminished. Let's hope the January Wollongong trip doesn't suffer a similar fate.
The week started fairly quietly as I was largely confined to home doing paperwork. I did manage to squeeze in a trip to another old stomping ground, Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve, near Frankston. I first went birding there in 1979 when it was still an Army Camp and it was not unusual to be bailed up by an armoured personal carrier full of Army Reservists.
With me today was a ten year old birdwatcher, William Colvin. His Mum was worried that he was getting a little too obsessive about birds, so enlisted my help to try and dissuade him from such an invidious and unrewarding habit- a kind of twitching aversion therapy, the same way a parent might try and stop a kid from smoking by making them smoke a whole packet of cigarettes until they become so sick they'll never want to smoke again. William and I set a target of 50 species for our birdwatching outing and we fell just three short, with the highlights of the day being Satin Flycatcher, Brush and Common Bronzewings and a charging Tiger Snake. Will's Mum rang later that night and said that ever since I dropped him off he had been planning his next twitch, determined to break the fifty barrier. So much for aversion therapy!
I spent a four day weekend in the Chiltern area of North East Victoria. Accompanied by various local birders, I saw many good birds including Turquoise Parrot, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail, Speckled Warbler, Dollarbird and a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike devouring a massive leaf insect with a green body and beautiful translucent magenta wings.
The forest in Chiltern was uncharacteristically quiet, making birding quite a challenge. Though it hasn't been a hot Summer, it has been a dry one in Chiltern. They haven't had any rain since Spring. There are no trees flowering in the forest at all, making nectar feeders scarce. There were virtually no lorikeets (usually there are big flocks of Littles with a few Musks at this time of year) only one sighting of three Little Friarbirds and I didn't see a single Red Wattlebird in the forest for the entire weekend- a very unusual occurrence.
While I did see many of the Chiltern specialties, I did miss out on some others, dipping on Barking Owl, Painted Button-quail and White-throated Nightjar ( for the umpteenth time I got yet another non-tickable view of the silhouette of the latter species).
And after adding 35 species to the year list, I headed back to Melbourne for another week of being confined to my office. But I do have the thought of next weekend's Port Fairy pelagic to keep me going. No hint of being cancelled due to lack of interest, this one's already oversubscribed. There is every chance it will be cancelled due to the weather though.
Will let you know how I go.
Till then, good birding,
Sean Dooley
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