resource for overseas and beginning birders

To: "'Birding-aus'" <>
Subject: resource for overseas and beginning birders
From: "Paul Dodd" <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 22:24:24 +1000
This is a great topic. My wife and I have been birding for some years now -
and as with many hobbies and pastimes, it started out as a very casual
thing. After 13 or so years as a legal secretary and law clerk, Ruth decided
that she needed a career change and started studying Conservation Ecology at
RMIT. For one of her assignments she had to choose an animal for which a
management plan had been created by NRE (now DSE), so she chose the
Blue-billed Duck. Throughout the remainder of her course we headed out on
the odd weekend to try and see one of these birds - I became convinced that
these mythical creatures didn't exist. Ultimately we saw our first one at
the Edithvale Wetlands. Meanwhile after many years without a camera, I
purchased a Digital SLR, as did Ruth - for me this was ideal as it meant
that I could combine two pastimes - photography with a love of getting
outside into the bush (well, National Parks at any rate). By now we were
both hopelessly hooked.

Anyway, to get to the real point - what was missing for us as beginning
birders was a simple list of GOOD places to go to see birds! This probably
sounds over simplistic, but an atlas of birding locations would have been
really helpful. I suspect that it would still have some value. For instance,
we recently went to the Chiltern area for some birding because we'd heard
that it was a great spot for birding in winter. I asked on birding-aus for
information on where to go and was told a number of locations - most notably
Cyanide Dam (I know, I know, it's actually called the Honeyeater Picnic
Ground!) Similarly for our recent trip to Mildura, we were told that the
Nowingi Track and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks were the go.

What I think is needed is an atlas or guide book divided into regions with
particular spots listed, the birds that may be seen there at different times
of year and, if relevant, the best time of day to be there. A simplistic

    Mallee Region
        Nowingi Track (Southern End) - Mallee Emu-wren - Spring/Summer -

The guide could be indexed by region, birding spot, species, season, and

We're now heavy users of Eremaea - thanks Margaret and Richard Alcorn, it's
a great piece of software! The problem is that if you decide on a species
you can then look up sites that have had that species reported (and you CAN
restrict by season) but it doesn't really tell you "the best" sites to go
for a range of species. That starts to become more subjective - which is the
ideal sort of material for a book (whether printed or electronic). I have
looked at Birdpedia too, but not in as much detail - I suspect that it has
the same limitation as Eremaea - in that you need to specify a species to
get a list of sites or a specific site to get a list of species.

I don't think that such a guide could ever have so much information that it
takes the element of chance away from birding - there's always the trip
where you go to see the most basic of birds and miss out entirely, but then
again there are always those trips where you come across something entirely

Does anyone have any views about this?

All the best,

Paul Dodd

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Dave Torr
Sent: Monday, 30 July 2007 8:51 PM
To: Rosemary Royle
Cc: Birding-aus
Subject: resource for overseas and beginning birders

One indication of likelihood can be found in such online databases as
Eremaea and Birdpedia - of course they depend on how diligent people are in
entering observations, and there is a tendency I feel for rarities to be
somewhat over-recorded compared to common species, but they give at least a
base to work from. Last time I checked Birdpedia gave some form of seasonal
abundance as well which Eremaea did not (and I apologise if that has now
changed) but of course even that is variable with weather conditions - but
then if sightings were guaranteed where would be the fun?

On 30/07/07, Rosemary Royle <> wrote:
> I think something like this would be wonderful - the only problem is that
> it might make things just a bit too easy?? (Sort of joke)
> It is perfectly true that understanding the general abundance of species
> and their degree of localisation is not at all well covered by the guide
> books. We did a huge amount of homework before our trip to Australia last
> year, but still were not really sure where we were likely to see a number
> the species on our list. Our saving grace was that we spent 3 months in
> field which allowed us to pick up some species simply by being in the
> kind of environment for enough time.
> It is always informative after a trip to look at all the species which
> were only seen once - some of these will be a as result of a specific
> e.g. Eungella Honeyeater, but others are just sheer luck and field time.
> Those latter species are the ones which are hard to rely on finding,
> especially in a limited time period. Actually knowing in advance that they
> will be hard to find woudl be very helpful, and pointers as to the best
> place to find them even better.
> However, in Australia, as I understand it, a bird can be hard to find some
> years and easy in others - we did not find a Brown Songlark and Phil Maher
> said he hadn't seem them for several years - after the rains this year I
> expect they will be all over the place!
> Rosemary Royle

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