Victorian Twitchathon 2003 - A Turk's Perspective

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Victorian Twitchathon 2003 - A Turk's Perspective
From: "S Cooney" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 09:08:37 +1100

Well, now that the results are out, its time for the lamentable story of the day the Turk’s went bush!


The day started badly when after rousing ourselves at 5 ish we discovered that the Turk-mobile had a slightly flat tyre and all the servo’s were still shut.  Luckily we had enough time to find one and pump up the miscreant tyre without losing too much time, but it was an omen of things to come.


We headed down to Williamstown and a new spot for the Turks in our new event (the 8 hour) and on a new route.  The wind was blowing a gale and pushing the tide in – no mud-flats, no waders, no start.  So we headed to our alternative starting spot at South Morang, ticking our first bird – Bell Miner – before heading up to Mount Disappointment.


I could have started this paragraph by saying that Mt Disappointment was disappointing, but we had another set-back before we even got there.  As we turned a corner a man in orange overalls with a SES badge on his sleeve waved us to the side of the road to inform us of a crash further up the road, that was waiting for the Air Ambulance; we would have to turn around!  We later found out the that the man had rolled his car around 6:30 am and thank-fully survived the crash, despite wearing the dashboard.


We turned around spent around an hour heading up dead-end roads to the south of Disappointment, before finally heading around the crash by going south, west, north, east and south again (yes folks a nice circular detour) until, at last we hit the slopes of Mt Disappointment and ticked Flame Robin.  But perhaps we shouldn’t have bothered.  Way behind time (I think it was nearly 50 minutes) Mt Disappointment did what it has done to me on the only other time I have been there on a Twitchathon (a day in which David Geering wasn’t as tick happy as he obviously was last weekend) and we left the mountain without Spinebill (!), Lyrebird (!!) or even Whipbird (!!!).


On to Heathcote and despite picking up the three small lorikeets fairly quickly (having already come accept that we would dip on Rainbow Lorikeet), we were by this stage already too far behind to turn in a spectacular effort.  In true Turk’s style however we battled on, Kamarooka was next, but our total was languishing at 89, when we wanted to be well over 100 and we were going to have to cut short our route. 


We arrived at the Terricks and had a decent return from this ever reliable site, but had to cut short our visit as time ticked down.  We raced on to Kerang Sewage Farm, abandoning our pre-race plan because time would prevent us from getting to Swan Hill Sewage Farm.  Things were going pear-shaped, but we pushed on, racing into the ibis rookery, without adding anything except Clamorous Reed-warbler (a mere bird 118).  This was not even going to be a traditional Bush Turkey almost, we were in dire straights.  On to Round Lake we strived, desperate to get to the Mallee habitat at Goshen Reserve.  Through Lake Boga we pushed, stopping at Round Lake to pick up Blue-billed and Musk Duck.


We hit Goshen with about 12 minutes left (and only 14 minutes after that to find a fax!) and got Budgie, Cockatiel, Hooded Robin and few others, including our best bird for the day Black Honeyeater…


and then it was all over.  134 lousy birds on a route that promised as many as 180 on a good day and yielded Peter and Sean 151 on Thursday.  We had dipped on, well heaps of stuff.  The biggies included Spotted Pardalote, Black-shouldered Kite and Butcherbird of any description.  So we were a team well beaten.  On the drive home we went over a hundred permeations of what we “cooda done” and “shooda done”, but really it was just not our day.  None of our sites excelled, all maybe 10-15% below par and with the hour lost early in the day we just couldn’t catch up.  Well that’s our story and we are sticking to it!


Next year it seems likely that the Turk’s will return to the 24 hour event.  It’s more natural for us, more time to settle into the race and get some serious birds.  I mean, I had recovered fully by Monday evening, now that really is not how one should feel after a ‘thon.


Congratulations to Lawrie, Grant and Russ who won the 8-hour event as well as Paul and Sean who have now won back-to-back 24 hour races.  Thanks to Tim Dolby and his helpers in turning on another fantastic event. 


Finally a big thank-you to all my sponsors, I should get around $560 raised just by me.  It's not too late, however, if anyone wants to sponsor me, or the event, or if they want to back a winning team (Like the Petrol-heads) you can post your donation to me at:


38 Christopher Drive

Frankston, VIC, 3199


And I will return a tax-deductible receipt.




Stuart Cooney
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