"Rylstone Curlew" Twitch report - NSW

To: Birding-Oz <>
Subject: "Rylstone Curlew" Twitch report - NSW
From: Timothy Hyde <>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 09:55:40 -0800
The "Champagne Race" of the NSW Twitchathon has some very strict rules.
Time off for lunch, morning and afternoon tea and no driving through the night.
It doesn't mention what to do with torrential hailstorms.

The Rylstone Curlews are having a meeting next week to consider officially
changing their team name to the Hail-Stone Curlews or to celebrate the fact
that we tied for first place - "Hail !  Stone -Curlews".

According to the MET Office the storm was centered on Springwood in the
Blue Mountains. We were there when it hit but luckily seemed to avoid the worst of it.
However as we were travelling east to take up position at McGraths Hill STW,
so was the storm, which caught up with us several times through the afternoon..

As the starting time approached, so did the storm again, but this time morphing into a black violent electrical event. We were surrounded by bolts of lightning. Our Team Leader, terrified of lightning, was quaking in her boots and we only stayed long enough to tick a handful of the promised birds that had not already fled in terror.

Despite this start we stuck to our plans and over the next 24 hours, notched up a very creditable 139 species. Our basic route was the Hawkesbury- Blue Mountains - Capertee Valley. Three nicely differing habitat types, but with plenty of time to have the required breaks and still take time off to enjoy some of the birding highlights.

These included -

Banded Lapwing   ( a new bird for me, TH)
Latham's Snipes - amazing close up views of a pair on the ground.
Tawny Frogmouth - A pair, with one nesting
Square Tail Kite - Nominated for our rarest bird, first spotted by Jill Dark at Min Min Turquoise Parrot - Nesting bird with 3 (?) babies in a fence post stump at Min Min - Nominated for birding moment of the year! (Lynda was looking over a fence, when the bird flew out inches from her hand. A quiet peek into the hollow revealed gaping mouths. We moved off and were happy to see the parent bird return shortly after.)

Lowlights -

The hailstorm and then violent electrical storm while birding McGraths Hill.
And, as all twitch teams experience, the large number of birds -
# Only seen by one member
# Seen just after the cutoff time
# Very common species not seen at all. (The Capertee Valley was unusually quiet, with our regular Honey Eater count the next day coming in at two thirds the normal numbers.)

Well, there's always next year. We plan to tweak the route a little and will organise better weather.

I've put a couple of  twitch photos up on the web

Timothy Hyde
"I'm a Rylstone Curlew"

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