Big Year

Thank you Scotty and Dave, it has indeed been a very ‘big’ year.

Just a quick wrap-up of the final death-throws of the year. I was lucky enough to not have latest attempt to fly into Melaleuca from Hobart cancelled. That was the good news. The not as good news is that I only saw one pair of OBPs, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the feeling might be like should I visit the site again in say five or then years.

After missing White-throated Nightjar at several well known spots, I decided to take the best shot – being well known haunt at Samsonvale Qld in backyard of colourful birding identity Tom Tarrant and Marie. Tom and Marie were incredibly helpful, and seemingly more determined than myself to ensure success. Unlike previous visit a month or so earlier, when rained out, the regular suspect WTNJ arrived an hour or so after sunset. Relief.

After putting in a couple of days at home for Christmas, my understanding wife allowed one last week for that bad-boy of the wetlands, Australasian bittern. Chased it at a range of SA and western Vic hotspots, but of course, post-breeding summer is not a time for great expectations. Despite the best support and assistance from Mr Bittern of Portland, Vic, Rob Farnes, and Mt Gambier birdo Bob Green, I came up with only ‘bittern disappointment’, giving the game away last night with the onset of New Year’s fireworks over Portland, and a bittern-sweet (sorry, once was enough, I know) end of an absolutely unforgettable year. Absolutely exhausted after untold kilometres trudged through waist deep swamp. Unfortunately lost I-phone number two for the year by forgetting to remove from pocket.

In the end, my year-list count appears to stand at 745. This is two lower than the count might have been if I hadn’t realised last week that the new IOC list shifted the Christmas Is ‘Variable’ Goshawk back to Brown Gossie, and because I reached a decision to not count the Ostriches I sighted at Barham NSW – though this is no judgement of anyone who does feel confident of the feral status of that population. An additional frustrating reality that there were four or five ‘almost good enough’ sightings that I couldn’t quite turn into ticks, and another half dozen that I really should have seen (e.g. should have nailed A. Bittern in winter). Despite practically joining the Navy, there are another four or five pelagic species that I really should have seen. But with only three mainland breeding species left unseen (A Bittern, Western Ground Parrot and Night Parrot), I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that I did give it everything I had in the tank, and then some.

Thank you to everyone who helped me out this year. Virtually everyone who owns a pair of bins! I’ll do my best to thank you all personally over the coming days or more likely weeks, when I readjust to normal life. A special thankyou is due to my co-worker Tim Faulkner. Without Tim’s help there is certainly no way my ‘Big Year’ would have happened, and my species list would have been far shorter.

I’ll make a priority of getting the blog updated with trip reports for at least some of the amazing places and adventures of the past few months, and a range of summary stuff, including lists of species and subspecies seen in 2012, on both IOC and C & B templates. In the mean time, please accept my sincere wish for a wonderful 2013 for everyone on Birding Aus and in the wider birding hobby. You are most certainly on the right track.

John Weigel ===============================

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1 comment to Big Year

  • John Weigel

    Oops, In race from Portland to Adelaide so as to not miss flight home, made at least one big error in previous message, another mainland bird I dipped was Buff-breasted Button-quail!

    John ===============================

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