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Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 19:19:08 +1000 (EST)
           1 Aug 2003 19:12:29 +1000 REL_3_3_2c 20/2566571); 01 Aug 2003 19:12:19
From: "John Barkla" <>
To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Jack's 700th
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 19:12:10 +1000
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Jack Barkla has achieved his cherished ambition of seeing 700 bird
species in Australia.  He set himself the target of getting there before
he turns 80, which will happen on 14 November this year.

It was extraordinarily difficult for him as he was not his normal robust
self during the 6=BD weeks we were away.  He was also extremely lucky to
get them as Isobel (his wife and my mother) was put in hospital while we
were away, necessitating a somewhat hasty return.  If she had been
admitted earlier, he may not have achieved his goal.

The new birds he saw were as follows:

(1)     number 695 - Chestnut-breasted Quail- Thrush.  We (my uncle and
Jack=92s brother-in-law Charl Giffard and I) had no difficulty in =
them at the usual spots at Eulo Bore, but had trouble getting Jack onto
them.  He eventually got great views;
(2)     number 696 - Kalkadoon Grasswren.  This bird proved to be
somewhat of a problem because Jack was not strong enough to climb around
in the boulders at Sybella Creek where we chose to look for them.  I
found them without much difficulty (look for them on the right hand side
of the road into the quarry, beyond the first hill where there is a
large round boulder balanced against the sky) and tried to herd them
towards him.  Failed miserably; herding Grasswrens is worse than herding
cats.  Eventually succeeded in getting Jack into a position where he
could look over a narrow gully that I had found them in.  I then went
into the gully and squeeked them up.  He had brief but good enough
(3)     number 697 - Pictorella Mannikin.  We eventually saw about 150,
but the first ones were a flock of 40 on the Buchanan Highway, only 10
kilometres from the Victoria Highway.  It was wonderful to see that a
very high proportion of this party and the others we saw were immatures,
hopefully indicating that they are breeding well; 
(4)     number 698  - Chestnut-backed Button-quail.  This was a complete
surprise and a bonus bird.  We saw them in 2 places in Kakadu last year,
but as we were not going there this trip, I felt it was a bird we would
miss. We had a single bird fly across the Tourist Road into Lake Argyle,
2.3 kilometres from where it joins the Victoria Highway.  I slammed on
the brakes and when we got out and walked through the open stony ground
adjacent to the road, we flushed three.  As far as I am aware, they have
not been seen in this area before (George Swann was not aware of any
records for here either);    
(5)     number 699 - Black Grasswren.  It was my dream that this would
be bird number 700, but it was not to be.  We had missed Red-chested
Button-Quail at a number of fairly reliable spots and chose not to visit
Darwin, where we may have seen the Chestnut Rail and Great-billed Heron,
in order to get him home as early as possible.  Even as bird 699 they
were still a great thrill for him;
(6)     number 700 =96 almost unbelievably it was Red-chested
Button-Quail.  Jack has tried many, many times to see this bird.  He has
been unbelievably unlucky in that we have missed it when he has been
there, but have seen it when he has not.  He regarded it as his bogey
bird, so it was fitting for it to be number 700.  We flushed 2 birds
from grassland on the Barkly Stock Route, which were almost certainly
Red-chesteds, but we did not get sufficient views to properly identify
them.  We eventually flushed a single bird from beside the road into
Walcott Inlet.  I saw it well from the car at a distance of only 5
metres, but Jack was in the back seat and missed it.  We got out and
walked to where it had landed and had a great view as it flew away.  We
subsequently saw 5 others in the same area.  Much enthusiastic
celebration then ensued;
(7)     number 701 =96 Great-billed Heron.  The reliable bird that =
beside the jetty at Derby was there on cue. Jack was pleased to get an
extra bird because he has Ostrich on his list from the days they roamed
around in South Australia.  As I do not have it on mine, I have always
chided him on it.

We are now safely at home and Mum is out of hospital and doing well.  I
am bragging to everyone that is prepared to listen that Jack is probably
the oldest person in the WORLD to achieve his personal goal of seeing
700 birds in Australia (in July 2003).  Others who are older may have
done it, but who cares, he was the oldest to do it last month.

Life is sweet!

John Barkla    

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