Belated Brewing Banter (Part 2)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Belated Brewing Banter (Part 2)
From: Mick Roderick <>
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 13:00:24 +1100 (EST)
This is Part 2...unfortunately, of 3 parts (the original Part 2 didn't make it, so i assume it was too big, so it's in 3 parts)...
(on 125 spp. late Satdee nite)....Soon after, the dawn chorus at their rainforest camp contained all the usual suspects. The only ?bonus birds? picked up from here were the Brush Turkeys that had never been seen by the Brewers at this spot and White-throated Needletails slicing the sky above the canopy. The next rainforest stop produced a calling Paradise Riflebird ? another new bird for the Brewers on the Twitch. The team then motored on to their crucial rainforest remnants to begin their customary ?mopping-up?. This produced such luminaries as Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Topknot and White-headed Pigeons and Brush Cuckoo. A Pheasant Coucal was heard ?cooping? in the gully by Mick Brew, but refused to call again, despite a rare 3-minute silence from the Brewers waiting in earnest (3 minutes is a long time to ?wait? on the Twitchathon!).
It was at this point (sitting on an incredible 167 species at 7:30am) that the Brewers were to take on a hitch-hiker - Claudia Taranto of ABC National Radio, who was documenting part of their run. She did not prepare herself for either the inclement weather that immediately ensued, or the inclement conditions inside the Brewers vehicle (an obvious unease came over her face). It was also at this point that a crucial decision had to be made, as high tide was less than an hour away in the Hunter Estuary, yet other woodland areas were en-route. After a vain attempt at the Banded Lapwings in torrential rain, the call went out??let?s do it!??and off to the estuary they set, assuring themselves that rain shouldn?t affect wading birds.
En-route they picked up Rock Dove, their 12th Dove species for the run. A quick detour onto Ash Island produced Common?s Sandpiper and Greenshank, before the dash to the Stockton area. At the Sandspit, they encountered the reigning (raining?) champions Champagne team ?Lesticcum phoradae?, sheltering from the drizzle. The move into the estuary paid off, with virtually every wader they could have reasonably expected (aside from Great Knot). However, the Brewer?s nemeses ? Caspian and Gull-billed Terns were not to be seen (and they felt a tad cheated by a jinking Crested Tern overhead). As Larry Landcruiser rumbled away from the carpark, Claudia was nowhere to be seen, apparently opting for the drier and saner confines of her support vehicle.
Leaving the estuary on 199, the team was brimming at the prospects of a stately total. An urban Novocastrian Figbird clocked them over to 200 before midday, and onto the ocean baths they went, quite pleased with the lack of unscrupulous Sunday afternoon traffic.
At the baths things seemed fairly quiet, although on closer inspection, target species such as Common Tern, Ruddy Turnstone and Sooty Oystercatcher fell. Only the one species of ocean bird (Wedge-tailed Shearwater) was found, a frustrating result ? although softened by the spying of a timely Eastern Reef Egret near Groper Rock, a very useful Twitchathon tick. 
The Brewers then made their way back onto Ash Island, mopping up White-fronted Chat, Swamp Harrier and a very late Whistling Kite. With 6 Finches under their belt, the crew went one-better with an obliging Goldfinch. The call then bellowed from a deep??The Finch Factor!??
With still time on the clock and a break in the wet weather, they went back out to some very well-oiled woodland spots (as they did in 2004). The move produced Varied Sittella, Crested Shrike-tit and the ever-reliable Black-chinned Honeyeater rapidly. A Spotted Quail-thrush on the way to the next stop had the Brewers agreeing that it was a worthy detour. The Brewers were bristling on 219 species with an hour and a half to go?the record of 222 was looking very shaky indeed.
Jacqueline Winter (Part 3 to follow)

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