Being halfway through my copy of "The Big Twitch" on Friday evening, it was
with delight that I opened my copy of the Sydney Morning Herald "Spectrum
Section" on Saturday morning to find that the leading review was a two page
spread of Paul Sheehan's review of "The Big Twitch" complete with a better
photo of Sean Dooley compared with the one on the cover of his book.
I have been enjoying Sean's book. It is about people I know, and places that
I have been to where I have had great birding experiences too as well as
about places I plan to visit (like Christmas Island later this year). It is
a great and funny read, it makes one laugh out loud and snigger at some of
Sean's better or worse experiences.
However there is one matter that I think Sean is wrong about and it is
highlighted in Paul Sheehan's review! And it is this - Sheehan says ..."
Dooley being the only person I am aware of in the birding subculture who
does a bird list every day. Every single day...." Sean himself carries on
about the fact that he is the only person to keep a daily list! So I am
sorry to say Sean and Paul, but I too suffer from such a disease and do a
bird list every day, if not many birdlists a day!
Since May 1972 I have made daily birdlists and each month transfer the
information to a seperate monthly checklist, so that at the end of the year
I know how many Australian species I have seen each year, and can use the
Annual-Monthly checklist, to locate past records in my note books..
Currently I put my lists into a "Chartwell Survey Book No 2257", each note
book takes about 7-8 months to fill, and at present I am up to Notebook No
62. While these days I don't necessarily list all the species I see, I do
list the species for a given locality so that the info can be used for a 20
minute survey or an "Incidental Survey" for the Birds Australia, Continuing
Bird Atlas project. I currently have a data base of the GPS lat longs for
about 200 local sites & 200 regularly visited more remote sites, so that I
can link my daily observations to a site, otherwise I use my GPS.
The late Arnold McGill, a great birdwatcher of the Roy Wheeler era, his
friend and compatriot, also had the most elaborate daily bird list system
which crossed referenced to a book that included all his observations of
special sightings, any nests that he had found, beached seabirds located,
first records of migratory birds for the season etc. These records passed to
the Australian Museum on his death and are there for all to see.
So Sean, I cannot believe that you and I are the only daily lists keepers,
in fact I know of another local daily list keeper, and surely there are some
other covert list keepers out there waiting to be exposed!
Congratulations Sean on producing such an enjoyable book. Paul Sheeham did
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