2003 Retrospective

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: 2003 Retrospective
From: "Stuart Cooney" <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 09:25:14 +1100
Now that the Christmas fun is over, I thought it timely to reflect on 2003, from a birding perspective - a great year in my short birding life.
The year started with a bang as I worked for a couple of weeks at O'Reilly's in SE Queensland in early January as a nature guide.  the trip started with Greg Anderson kindly showing the sights and birds of Brisbane and surrounds.  We birded pretty solidly for a day in the humidity of another lovely Queensland day and I saw a swag of new birds, the best of which were probably Osprey and Mangrove Kingfisher, both of which were at Toorbul Point and the Bush Stone-Curlew at Queensland Uni, which was the last bird we saw after night fell.
At O'Reilly's I had a great time, enjoying only one storm from the platform above the pool, with Needletails zooming up the valley ahead of the lightning and thunder.  I saw heaps of new birds again, including a Paradise Riflebird, Marbled Frogmouth and Sooty Owl.  Unfortunately it was (is?) very dry up there and so after nearly two weeks I still hadn't got onto a Noisy Pitta.  With only a couple of days to go, one morning before work, I made a dash down the Python Rock walk, where a Pitta had been seen nesting recently, speeding down the track I was brushing Albert's Lyrebirds aside in my quest for Noisy Pitta - alas without luck.  In fact it wasn't until almost my last day that I finally saw a Pitta, and it was worth the wait.
The trip to Queensland was fantastic and places like Samsonvale Lake, Buckley's Hole and the Sherwood Arboretum are full of great birds.  However the trip was not without frustration.  I checked the Arboretum 4 times in my two and bit weeks in Queensland  for Little Bittern unsuccessfully, only to get on a plane to Victoria and have my neighbour on the plane tell me about the famous Little Bitterns that everyone was seeing in Bundoora!  And that bloody Laughing Gull!  Three times I drove up to Bribie Island, and three times I dipped on the bird.  The last time I gave up the possibility of ticking a Oriental Cuckoo, because I was sure that I would get the Gull this last time!  I also ventured into the Lockyer Valley on a hot (very hot from a Victorian's point of view) day, but without any planning, a fellow birder in the drivers seat or a lot of energy, I don't think we did this region much service and didn't really get anything exciting.
In February I went to Mud Island, in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria with a BOCA group and got a couple more new birds, as well as seeing both Little and Fairy Terns together to get them sorted in my mind, while in April I went to Mallacoota and then Bermagui (Vic and NSW) and got some more birds for my Vic list (Glossy Black-Cocky, but dipped on Ground Parrot) and a new tick in Eastern Reef Egret at Camel Rock near Bermagui.  At the end of April I attended residential schools for the Certificate in Ornithology and picked up two more new birds in Black Falcon near Lavington, NSW and finally got onto Regent Honeyeater at Chiltern NP, Vic.  I also ticked Oriental Pratincole at Werribee in a busy month.
My nest big trip was to Sturt NP the archives has a full report, but suffice to say the highlight was the Grey Falcon, slowly making its way towards and then over us (I later heard that the falcon was nesting near by, and that we almost certainly walked underneath the nest!).  Bustards and Ground Cuckoo-shrike were other highlights.
OK, this is getting too long.  There is also a report on the archives about my September trip to Julatten, Qld when I again worked as a bird guide at KPBWL (its a really good gig this guiding stuff - you walk around with (usually) nice people talking about birds and mammals and plants and other cool stuff, then at the end you stick your hand out and they put the folding stuff in it!).  I also nearly finished the 2001 and 2002 Victorian Bird Reports (stay tuned), Birdline continues to be a success (it's now had around 30 000 visits in three years), I set-up the new Birds Australia - Victoria website, and completed both my undergraduate degree and the Certificate of Ornithology at Charles Sturt Uni.  I wonder my wife tells my I am obsessed by birds?
So to the truly nerdy numbers and stuff. 
Ticks - I got 394 birds for the year (I am very sorry that for the first time in about 4 years I didn't go on a pelagic trip!), which included 101 ticks, taking my life list from a paltry 353 to a slightly improved 454. 
Best bird - easy: Grey Falcon, oh and the Square-tailed Kites on a nest... the Papuan Frogmouth... finally getting Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo... Red-necked Crake and all the Bowerbirds in north Qld...
Biggest dip - the Little Bittern and the Laughing Gull, although I still don't have Pilotbird or Orange-bellied Parrot (inexcusable for southern Victorian).
Anyone else had an interesting birding year?
Stuart Cooney
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