Thursday, September 01, 2011

Who's doing all that twitching?

I've always been bit of a birdwatcher. Not in the ranks of Bill Oddie (of The Goodies fame) or Sean Dooley, but with definite twitching tendencies. I don't go out of my way to spot birds and I don't maintain lists like more serious twitchers do, but I do enjoy identifying and ticking off species I've seen in my Field guide to the birds of Australia.

Our back garden is constantly visited by noisy minors, blue-faced honeyeaters, rainbow lorikeets, crested pigeons, currawongs, butcherbirds, the occasional ibis and once, one very pesky brush turkey. The most notable visitor, and a very recent one, is this fellow...

Image: Wikipedia
a buff-banded rail. Its usual habitat - according to the Field guide - is marshes, creeks, wet paddocks, tourist resorts, garbage tips and...well-vegetated gardens. Which explains why it's turned up at our place (well vegetated, not a tip) to apparently nest, since it is currently its breeding season. Pretty cool, I think.

My most memorable sighting was down at Lamington National Park, when Smithy and I encountered the magnificent Regent Bowerbird. Of course, we didn't know what it was at the time, but boy, was I excited to find out what we had spotted. Never seen one since, though.

I may not be in the same class as Sean Dooley when it comes to birdwatching, but unlike him I have seen a Rufus Scrubbird at Lamington. He had four goes at trying to get it for his Big Twitch - a year in which he attempted to break the national record for the number of birds spotted. Me? One fluttered across the track in front of me one year and went bouncing off into the undergrowth. Thought nothing of it when I identified it in the trusty Field Guide at the time - just ticked it off. Then I read Dooley's book and realised I had seen the very bird he had tried and failed to add to his list. Take that, Sean Dooley!  I've spotted a bird the Australian twitching record-holder never got. Gives me a small sense of satisfaction every time I think about it, that does.

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