Bush Stone-curlew in Victoria - a bizarre twitch

Subject: Bush Stone-curlew in Victoria - a bizarre twitch
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 2009 22:51:39 +1000
    Bush Stone-curlews are rare in Victoria. I've seen only one in the state in 
45 years. So I found reports that one had been present for over a month in a 
State Park in an outer Melbourne suburb incredulous. Nevertheless, together 
with Andrew Silcocks from Birds Australia and Johnny Loy decided to 
investigate. We learned that although it could be seen from the Park, the bird 
was actually on an adjacent golf course. With a little difficulty we found the 
area from where reputedly, the bird could be viewed. But were we right? About 
200 m away there were three peppercorn trees not two as advised. We could not 
see the bird nor imagine what might have been mistaken for it. An impressive 
two metre high fence with four electrified wires at the top prevented closer 
approach. Clearly, we could not enter and were not wanted on this golf course. 
Eventually a party of well-heeled lady golfers approached. Ah, now there might 
be a chance of them flushing the bird into view especially as one lady appeared 
to be searching among the designated trees. What a silly place to look for her 
ball! When she emerged from the trees she turned to face us lined up outside 
the fence with binoculars and a telescope on a tripod and gestured as if to 
signal a boundary in cricket. It dawned on us that she'd actually been looking 
for the bird but not found it. This was real evidence that this story might 
have some validity. Excitement mounted.

            We drove between the pillars marking the golf course entrance and 
down the long imposing drive to the 'clubhouse'. This resembled a five-star 
luxury hotel. I began to regret not having shaved and wish I'd combed my hair. 
Neither of my companions was marginally respectable. As we entered the door to 
the huge marbled foyer a lady about to leave cast a disapproving eye over us 
then said 'I suppose you've come to see Evan'. 'Who?' we said. 'Our rare bird' 
she responded. I suspect that it was the binoculars around our necks that gave 
her the clue. It was now absolutely certain that we were on the right trail. 
'Well yes' we said 'but it didn't appear to be there when we looked in from 
next door'. 'That is because it has moved to the tee for the third hole'. Now 
we were really warm. 'Do you mean it is there now', we exclaimed. 'Oh I can't 
honestly say that but it was an hour ago'! She gave us directions but said we 
should check with reception before venturing on to the course. The lady at the 
desk enquired as to our business and asked as to where were we from. I pointed 
to Andrew with some pride and said 'He is from Birds Australia'. Then she asked 
where was I from but as I was struggling to think of an answer that might 
achieve our aim she realised it wasn't relevant and in any case she wanted rid 
of these scruffs. She too knew of this strange bird. She left the desk and 
returned instantly with the manager's approval but we also had to have the 
sanction of the Pro-Shop. Yet another hurdle we thought. The attendant there 
wanted to know precisely where we wished to go. He pursed his lips and said 
'I'm afraid -------- that is some distance away, 'Do you know how to drive a 
golf buggy? 'No' we chanted in unison. 'It is really very easy' he said. So we 
squashed into the buggy and drove to the third tee. There we caught up with the 
ladies who gestured to us when we watched from outside the fence. They pointed 
to Evan standing nearby under a tree (more of a sapling really).

Numerous photographs later three relatively happy twitchers departed. I say 
relatively, because we also learned that someone we had previously thought of 
as friend and confidant had known about this Bush Stone-curlew for months. 
Apparently it was first seen two days after the February bush-fires.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

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