Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blokes & their equipment


A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, luck or photographic equipment.

Well I could try claiming that I have a better body than Richard (surely my 60D shits on his 500D). I suspect however that having a good body DOESN'T CUT THE MUSTARD IF YOUR LENS IS NOT IMPRESSIVE!

I think the picture says it all ......


Speaking of inadequate it's November 30 so it's probably about time for a tally. The Turnstones really are quite pleased with their 197 birds for the year to date but are very impressed with the BBs who must be giving the 300 mark a real shake!

So just 3 new species per day for December should see the Ruddy Turnstones in with a real chance .... Hmmm .....when are you guys in Victoria?

By the way I also have dabbled with a second blog page for report & pics. I've enjoyed viewing everyone else's after all. You can see it at

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Lens could cause Budget blowout

Oh Dear. Hadn't thought of this.
A: Will there be "lens jealousy" in Blackburn?
R: Didn't think of that ........  .... (much)

Alas, it is true. I have purchased a new lens. Very spiffy even if I am the one to say it. Still able to hand-hold it so not too heavy. Slide instead of twist zoom. And the photos are already much better.

Here are some shots of the new lens, not zoomed and then zoomed:

has image stabiliser, which is wonderful, starts at 100mm and zooms out to 400mm, has a stabiliser mode for still subjects and a different one for moving subjects, and has two settings for shortest focal length of 1.8 metres and another from 6.5m. Very happy camper.
(sorry Kath)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Terrific Terrick!

If you make a triangle out of the Victorian towns of Bendigo, Echuca & Kerang then the Terrick Terrick National Park sits in the middle. It contains an unfamiliar environment with native pines and grasslands with a few areas of rocky outcrops. Similarly the birding was unfamiliar & I'm sure that many more "ticks" could have eventuated if we had more local experience or a little homework under the belt.

The 45 minute drive down from our digs at Torrumbarry resulted in stops to view brown falcon, white-fronted chat, Australasian pipit (i don't like the other's like he actually owns a bird), brolga (did I mention?), long-billed corella and a pretty good Victorian impression of the territory's Mt Connor:

In the cool temperate rainforest & other bush surrounding Melbourne you can't leave a track, even if you wanted to, without a machete. It was strangely satisfying to walk in and amongst the actual bird habitat rather than view it from a track. Although I did do less of this after we saw several long reptiles.

Native pine and grasses

The Mitiamo cemetery section

Climbing Mt Terrick

The team!
The day was warm and we were there from about 10am until 3pm - not ideal for birding. Several sightings were lifers (of these a couple were suspected at the time but confirmed by photograph later on) but I feel we really dipped on a variety of honeyeaters that are often seen.

Black-faced cuckoo shrike -
the immature birds still get me thinking I might
have something new!

Rufous songlark (above & below)
AKA Noisius buggeris

Red-capped robin

Hooded robin

Mistletoebird (after a big night I think)
Southern whiteface (needs a wash)
Hannah was great company and started keeping her own list. She pays greater attention to bird counts than I can be bothered with at times!

Written while driving on gravel
Please excuse hand-writing!
To the north of the forested section of the Park are some areas of designated Park described as native grassland. We had a brief look at the grasslands (didn't get out of the car) where people try to see Plains wanderer (at night I think). We found them difficult to distinguish from the farmed paddocks - some of the locals indicate that they are farmed paddocks (or have been).

I am very grateful to Peter Allen & Keith Stockwell's birding guide for Terrick published via Echuca BOCA's website:

And thanks to Tim Bawden for suggesting the place.

We were also hoping to see Diamond firetail but that's another story....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Silverleaves vermin out of control

In my absence Kath & the girls recently drove through Silverleaves & photographed species (pests?) now wandering freely through public grasslands.

Measures may need to be taken to control these species, hitherto almost absent in the area (apparently), but which are now reaching plague proportions:

The brolga is off my back!

Yes, finally I am able to state that I have seen brolgas and name the date, place & circumstance. Having never been quite sure that childhood memories of seeing these birds in SW Victorian paddocks were real or imagined I don't have to fret any longer.

The sighting was not a 30 minute utopia of photographing courting birds in a graceful dance. Rather it was a 30 second "Shit, they might be brolgas!", car screeching to a halt (from 100kmh), camera & binocular fumbling liaison that could easily have ended in disaster!

Anyway it was still special. The birds loomed large in my mind's eye as I was taking the pictures - so I am somewhat disappointed at the distant, grey, brolga-shaped silhouettes that resulted!:

Pizzey: "Flight distinctive: neck and legs extended,
wingbeats slow, majestic..."

I agree!

Disappearing over the flat plains of north-central Victoria
Hannah knew I was looking out for them ..... we "high-fived" and drove on to Terrick Terrick National Park (report to follow!).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Buff Budgies win Red Centre Twitchathon!

Yes it is true. We did enter a team called the Buff Budgies!

OK, so it is also true that by the official count we did win the Twitchathon, although there were others that probably would have beaten us had they not either a) been the adjudicator; or b) had to work on Saturday afternoon. Be that as it may, we were awarded first prize which is a $100 gift voucher at Lone Dingo.

My recollections of the 24 hours events can be viewed at the below link:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Red Centre Twitchathon October 7-8

The Big Day is upon us and only hours until the commencement. The Buff Budgies (yes, the official team name for the Twitchathon) is a team of 3, Moses, Banjo and myself. With potentially nearly 200 birds (yeah, right), I've set our target number at 80 species. the boys are keyed up, as am I.
Our planned route takes in a northern starting point, then a drive south in the dark to set up camp for the night, an early rise for an hour or so birding then across to the east and finally back to town to finish.
We are sad the Ruddy Turnstones weren't able to make it, but will try our hardest to uphold the reputation of the WFS Twitch (do we have a reputation?)
There have been a few unusual sightings in the last couple of days around Alice Springs, so hopefully we'll be able to catch up with them in the next 24 hours.
All in all, it should be fun and spending time with the boys will be the most fun of all.
A full report will be forthcoming in the next 3-4 days.
Twitch On!