Fwd: WA Twitchathon 2012.

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Fwd: WA Twitchathon 2012.
From: Steven Burns <>
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:47:36 +0800
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From: Steven Burns <>
Date: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Subject: WA Twitchathon 2012.

From: Steven Burns <>

Date: 11 December 2012 18:41:49 AWST


Subject: Twitchathon WA 2012

Hi fellow birders,           Well here we are again, I can’t believe it’s
been a whole year since last years WA twitchathon 2011, when we the Western
Whistlers comprising of Steve Burns and Mark Newman were fortunate enough
to win the 24 hr title with a record 173 species, smashing the wa record of
previous years and beating our next competitors by an amazing 20 species.
The heat was certainly well and truly on again this year to try and at
least match last years great result and to maybe even beat that tally to
perhaps set yet another state record. After winning last year we still felt
at the time that we could have gone that extra yard more with several key
species still missing from what was still a fantastic tally that would be
extremely hard to beat .On paper and as was mentioned by  the Rough Nights
recently ,it could potentially be possible to hit nearer the 200 species
mark but in order to do this a team would have to get every species around
plus bonus birds , i.e. very uncommon species for this region .The
likelihood of this would be truly amazing and extremely unlikely due to the
unpredictability of the creature’s that we are dealing with as well as the
constraints of the competition. The Western Whistlers work tirelessly for
the whole weekend without sleep (supported by Red bull and any other pick
me up that we can guzzle down), drive ridiculous distances both on road and
off. The whole experience is truly knack ring, although exciting and
totally worth it in the end .The WA twitchathon 2012 took place on the 1st
Dec at 5pm and ended at 5pm 2nd Dec. Several mad keen teams competed, all I
might add, are top birders and the whole event organised by John Graff of
Birdlife Western Australia is taken very seriously yet in fun and like all
competitive birding is a pleasure to be a part of .This year the Western
Whistlers set out on their title defence using the same route as last year
(with the odd tweak here and there) covering 1800kms which is 100kms less
than last year amazingly. 38 hrs without sleep and several red bulls. Lots
of fuel i.e. petrol. Sandwiches and chocolate of various types etc etc .We
began our challenge down on the south coast of WA fairly close to Cheynes
Beach like last year and then headed to Cheynes before dusk via another
great site of ours. By the time we arrived at Cheynes the light was already
beginning to fade, so we had a mad panic, frantically dashing around our
favourite spots and luckily just about pulling it all together and locating
all of our target species that this area is most famous for .The Big Twits
whom we had crossed paths with earlier that day had long gone so the place
was ours. A pair of Square tailed Kites being a welcome surprise as we
entered onto Cheynes rd beforehand .By the time darkness had got the better
of us and it was now time to head northward we were already about 9 species
ahead of our last years total at this stage , with some fantastic birds
already under our belt, such as : Masked Lapwing, Pacific Golden Plover,
Black fronted Dotterel, Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers, Pallid Cuckoo,
Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Noisy Scrub bird, Western Whipbird, Red eared
Firetail, White breasted Robin, the list goes on....... Also we found 2 of
the crake species and a Buff banded Rail. We were on Fire, despite still
missing a few crucial species which we had found already by this time last
year, such as: Spotted Harrier, White bellied Sea Eagle, and Sacred
Kingfisher. Earlier that day we had seen 3 Spotted Harriers, one of which
was sited only 30 mins prior to the start of the twitch, also we’d seen 3
Sacred Kingfishers earlier in the day but again, none there when you need
them to be as is often the case. We headed away from Cheynes via a couple
of Bittern sites, hoping for Little Bittern we where disappointed as they
were a no show ,good job that the Australian Bitterns were calling with 2
birds at two different sites . Also, Australian Owlet Nightjar’s were
calling, with at least 4 birds very close to us at one point, Amazing! We
didn’t think that we’d get them this year although we hoped that we would,
so they were a very pleasant bonus bird to us .Getting these guys gave us
great hope for the nocturnal segment of the twitch and the long night ahead
which often lets us down quite often. Perhaps we might even find our bogey
bird the elusive Barn Owl this year which as managed to elude us each year
of the twitch so far. Heading north through the Stirling Range, we passed 2
Spotted Nightjars, which we thought we’d blown our chances of, and also
added Hooded Plover to our list , managing to spotlight a bird in the full
moonlight of the evening. Next stop Dryandra state forest with a lot of
brain zapping driving in between, also 1 dead Bush Wallaby thrown into the
mix, poor guy he just came out of nowhere to meet his death on what are
treacherous roads at nightime, animals jumping out all over the place,
especially through the Stirling Range roads. Soon we added Southern Boobook
Owl and Tawny Frogmouth to our increasing tally but still not a Barn Owl to
be seen. Once at Dryandra Bush Stonecurlew soon followed and a drive around
this massive place revealed a large darker looking Barn Owl which flew
straight across our path off the fields to the side of us and into a tree
above. Spotlights on, the bird then flew further into the forest sticking
to the canopy and then gave a powerful shriek. WOW a Masked Owl. We were
stunned. What a bird to get on a twitchathon and totally unexpected. After
spending some time tracking the owl it didn’t seem long before the dawn
chorus erupted, starting with Stubble Quail out in the fields, Brown headed
Honeyeater, Crested Shriketit, Jackywinter, and Red capped Robin, Western
yellow Robin, Blue Breasted Fairy wren and Owlet Nightjar again. The birds
came thick and fast for a while, just what we needed to wake our brains up
after a long night of driving and no sleep. Back on the roads to our next
wheat belt location with birds like; Pied Butcherbird, White fronted Chats,
Brown Songlark, Brown Falcon, Scarlet Robin, White winged Trillers, Black
faced Wood swallow along the way. Arriving at our next location, the whole
place was buzzing with masses of Purple crowned Lorikeets mixed with around
50 or so Budgerigars (Fantastic).A family of Hooded Robins completed our
Robins for the event, plenty of Rufus Songlarks, Dusky Woodswallows,
Trillers, Yellow plumed Honeyeaters everywhere. White browed Babblers,
Horsfields and Fan tailed Cuckoos, WOW unbelievable! We definitely were on
fire and heading to do the unthinkable and beat last years amazing total.
Heading homeward through my area of the hills we added; Zebra Finch, Red
browed Finch, Fairy Martin, Carnaby, s and Red tailed blk Cockatoos, White
cheeked, Tawny crowned, New Holland Honeyeaters etc.Then down onto the
coastal plain for our assault on the wetland areas, knowing we were going
to be very hard to beat again this year finding Yellow throated Minors,
White necked Heron along the way. At Yangebup we had our annual get
together with Robyn Pickering and son who were also competing,for a quick
chat to only find out that we’d missed out on some Black Honeyeaters at a
site we’d viewed earlier (dam) , also that Great crested Grebe were nowhere
to be seen on Bibra Lake (well maybe we’ll have better luck
hopefully).Picking up ducks ,waterbirds as expected at the two sites but no
Great crested Grebes as Robyn had said (dam).Woodman’s Point provided us
with : Grey Knot, Ruddy Turnstone,Terns,Rock Dove and a solitary Arctic
Jaeger flying over the sea(excellent).Next heading southward through
Rockingham and on to Mandurah and its various locations, picking up
Baillon,s Crake, Red kneed Dotteral,Pelicans etc at Wellard along the way.
As usual, Marks patch proved successful giving us most of the waders and
seabirds that we were missing with Long and Short Billed Corellas, Banded
Lapwing, Wedgetailed Shearwaters and all the Tern species that were
expected. Last stop, Lake McCarty and the finish line was in site. We had
already smashed last years total of 173 species with a new total of 178
species by the time we hit McLarty. As we arrived we noticed a familiar
vehicle parked up, the Big Twits were in town! A quick chat and back on
with the show. Emu’s x6running around the edge of the lake, a group of
Glossy Ibis knocked us up to 180. The whole place was teaming with birds
which were all spread out all over the place. Sifting through we found
Black tailed Native Hen X 4 and Curlew Sandpiper to give us a grand total
of 182 species, narrowly missing Pectoral Sandpiper that were there but
flew away with a flock of Sharp tailed Sandpipers at the last minute. Oh
well! Can’t complain, we,ve done it again and can only be pleased with our
efforts despite feeling totally knackered and fit to drop. As we then drove
out of McLarty, 4 Cattle Egrets in stunning condition landed next to the
car but alas it was too late to include them. Thanks to all who competed
again this year and hello to the Rough Nights (and yes that was our car at
the Little Bitter site down south) Just when you think that it can’t get
any tougher, it does. The bar as well and truly been raised now and it
nearly killed us both getting it there. Still the search for Barn Owl goes
on for another year!    The Western Whistlers (Steve Burns / Mark Newman.)

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