Belated Brewers Banter (Part 1)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Belated Brewers Banter (Part 1)
From: Mick Roderick <>
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2006 19:45:06 +1100 (EST)
Hi Everyone,
Well I've been coerced to post the Hunter Home Brewers 2005 Twitchathon story, as appeared in the HBOC Newsletter recently. Not so much 'coerced', but as it's been nearly 4 months since the event, it may seem a little out-of-place (late even!?). Anyway, Jacqueline Winter submits the articles to the HBOC newsletters each year. It is provided below, and on a second message, in case it's too much text.
Thanx to anyone interested enough to read it...Mick

Hunter Home Brewers Twitchathon 2005 ?  ?The Finch Factor?

The Hunter Home Brewers entered the 2005 Birds Australia Twitchathon in a guise that they had not experienced in the past ? as defending NSW champions. As a result, no stones were left unturned in the lead-up to the event, although in contrast to previous years, there was a distinct lack of mid-year Brewing by the now-solid squad of Mick and Steve Roderick, Lucas Grenadier and Craig Anderson. News of recent and winter rains in their westerly starting point had the Brewers feeling quietly confident, particularly as it was apparent that the rains would do little to favour the main rival team ? The Whacked Out Woodswallows.
A deviation was made on their way up to the customary ?dummy run? on the Friday afternoon, with a possible ?Bittern site? scoped out as a potential nocturnal detour enroute back over the Divide. They liked what they saw, and a handful of Blue-billed Ducks added extra weight for the decision to visit there the next night. The dummy run confirmed that no changes to the winning 2004 route were necessary, although a new bird was found ? White-winged Fairy-wrens (Craig Brew was especially happy with that). Meanwhile, a nice assortment of Finch species was found on a slight detour. Things were looking good for Saturday and the ?Twitch Tab? ran hot.
And so it came that 3pm Saturday was nigh, and the troops assembled at the Painted Honeyeater ?shoe-in? point. The countdown to 3pm ended and they picked up a rapid 20 spp., including the Painted HE and an obliging Black-eared Cuckoo. Onto the ?ordinary habitat?, where Singing Bushlark and the WwFairy-wrens were added, though not the Brown Songlarks seen there the day before. A large wetland reaped all the Duck species they could reasonably expect, plus two Dotterels and Yellow-throated Miners.
Into the first woodland and things ticked over nicely, including a few target species such as Turquoise Parrot, Speckled Warbler and Inland Thornbill, as were nice extras such as White-backed Swallow and Painted Button-quail. The team then headed to a reliable homestead spot, where the familiar call of the Singing Honeyeater was heard. Southern Whiteface and Brown Quail were also seen there. A visit to the ?finch spot? yielded Plum-heads, Double-bars and Diamond Firetails?but no Zebs! Back to the homestead to pick the Zebs up ? which they eventually did, but soon a scream of ?Diamond Dove!? came from Steve Brew, which had the lads tripping over themselves to reach and confirm.
The Brewers had a good tally at hand and happily ticked their 100th bird with still a good half-hour of light remaining. The usually reliable Robin spot yielded no new birds from a 10-minute twitch ? quite costly. Cockatiels then fell (a new bird ?On the Thon? for the Brewers), and the crowd went completely bananas as a pair of Blue Bonnets flew in front of Larry Landcruiser. No Sea-eagles or Whiskered Terns at a regular site, although Blackbird, Little Eagle and Red-winged Parrot were worthy replacements nearby. It was too late for the Azure Kf ?fly-by? and with a last ditch effort back in the woodland had the tally at 117 by nightfall.
Then began a nocturnal bonanza, with the customary Barn Owl, Boobook and Tawny Frogmouth picked up on a known stretch. The Brewers then trundled to the wetland they?d oiled up the day before. Alas, no Blue-billed Ducks were visible, and a cacophony of frogs made listening for calling birds quite difficult. However, within 10 minutes the distinctive monotonous ooming of the Little Bittern had the boys rejoicing. Success! Scrambling for the only spotlight, they got the beam onto the reeds for a peek?only to flush a large Bittern from the left??look at that? it?s an Australasian Bittern!?. The Brewers went apricot and once it landed on the opposite bank it started it?s low pulsing ooms, almost sending waves across the water. A Double-Bittern stop, streuth.
How could they possibly follow this? After picking up an Owlet Nightjar, there followed a tactical nocturnal reconnaissance of forested roadsides, which eventually yielded a Masked Owl that investigated Mick Brew?s Ninox impersonations (no Ninox owls were interested). But that wasn?t enough, and soon after arrival at ?camp? a falling-bomb from a Sooty Owl was heard, their 8th nocturnal bird.  125 species as they lay their heads for a brief kip?what a start to the 2005 campaign.
Jacqueline Winter (Part 2 to follow)

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