The Puny Twitch Cracks the Ton

To: Birding_aus <>
Subject: The Puny Twitch Cracks the Ton
From: J and A Flack <>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 13:15:49 +1000 (EST)
G'day everyone,

You may recall that in my last report, with the Puny
Twitch poised on 98, I was planning a visit to the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, confident of ticking
the Nankeen Night Heron. Well about a week later I was
at the Gardens, and after about an hour's searching,
was not confident any more. Whenever I had mentioned
Night Herons there had been universal response,
"you'll easily get them at the Botanic Gardens"! Tim
Dolby had also seen one on the Moonee Ponds Creek and
Joy Tansey had reported regularly seeing one there as
well. I had even seen one myself, on the Merri Creek,
but not within the criteria of the Puny Twitch (I
wasn't cycling to or from work). Now here at the
Gardens, next to the lake, the best I could come up
with was the picture of one on an interpretive sign!
The artwork was good, but it appeared to be laughing
at me! To make matters worse the sign implied that
they were regularly seen! Was this going to be my
bogie bird?

I decided to see what I could find in the rest of the
gardens and the first thing that struck me was that
the fruit bats were widely dispersed, no longer
centred at the rainforest section (neither was the
Powerful Owl that was seen there a few months ago).
Now they were everywhere I looked, lots roosting
outside the gardens as well. I read a few days later
that there had been a concerted effort to dislodge
them in the hope that they would join a new colony
that had been 'engineered' on the Yarra in Ivanhoe
(approx 10 km east of Melb). I don't know if this
occurred, but apparently a large percentage of them
moved to the Geelong Botanic Gardens where they are
being chased off again.

Anyway back to the birds. I continued walking my bike
around, exploring the rest of the gardens. I had heard
a couple of calls that I didn't recognise, but
couldn't find the caller before it went quiet. And
with Satin Bowerbird reports (from a few years back)
at the back of my mind I was briefly enticed by a
glimpse of what turned out to be a Song Thrush (which
was already on my list!) The best of the birds that I
did see were Grey Fantail, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo,
White-browed Scrubwren and Rainbow Lorikeet.

After about half an hour I found myself back at the
lake and there, in amongst the foliage, right at the
edge of one of the islands was a hint of rufous. I
quickly got the binocs onto it and sure enough, at
last, a very dapper looking adult Night Heron, number
99. Of course I saw another one on the Moonee Ponds
Creek a few nights later!

I didn't have to wait too long for the century. Two
Silver Gulls that had been squabbling a few metres
away took off with a sudden squawk. As I turned toward
them a raptor drifted in to perch high in a eucalypt,
on the far side of the island. I moved around to get a
better view but as I got to a better vantage point it
was disturbed by a jogger and moved closer to where I
had just come from. This time it stayed put, and I
soon had crippling views of a majestic looking
Collared Sparrowhawk, a fitting bird for number one

It was great to get a good long look at all the
diagnostic features - the notched square tail, long
middle toe and shorter head were all clearly visible.
And the barring on the chest was exquisite! At one
stage it appeared to be looking directly down my
binoculars with its head floating slightly from side
to side. It stayed put, but I was glad I had my bike
helmet on! Eventually it moved off and so did I, well
satisfied with my evening's viewing.

A few nights later I caught up with a Flame Robin
(brown bird) at the sports ground in the old Royal
Park Hospital site (behind the NMIT nursery). This has
been a good spot for them in the past. In the gardens
on the border you can often find White-browed
Scrubwren and New Holland Honeyeater. This is also the
spot where I saw the Scaly-breasted Lorikeets earlier
in the year. I've also seen Eastern Spinebill and
Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo here in the past. It is a
real shame that the State Government is selling this
site for high density housing!

Another interesting sighting from a couple of weeks
ago was a lone Dusky Woodswallow in Royal Park. I
didn't realise the significance of this until the
other night when reading a recent flora and flora
assessment of the area. The species list is sourced
form the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife and no
woodswallows have been recorded! There were some
surprising listings however, a Bassian Thrush in 1998
and Banded Lapwing in 1984. Now, I'd love to have
those on my Puny Twitch list!

The end of daylight saving time and rapidly shortening
days is certainly cutting into my 'twitching time'. It
will only be a few weeks before I start to leave work
after dark. Despite this there is still the
possibility to push the total above 101 before the
Puny Twitch goes into a winter recess. I'm also toying
with the idea of spotlighting, though Jan reckons I'll
either get arrested or mugged! I'll let you know of
any developments.


Alan. - Yahoo! Mobile
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