Notes to readers of this Blog


Thank you for dropping by to check out my blog. You will see a lot of other Blogs about birds I follow down the left hand side. I strongly encourage you to check some of these out as well, they are entertaining and I love to see birds from all over the world, I hope you do too.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Red Centre Twitchathon 2011

Over 24 hours since the Twitchathon finished, and I am still blown away by the whole experience. The event was well organised, and everyone was friendly and helpful. The best part was this was the first experience the boys, Moses and Banjo, had into the "Twitchathon" world. Special thanks to the staff of the Alice Springs Desert Park, Mark Carter, as well as all other competitors. And a special mention to Chris Watson Birds Central Australia who took my son's excited "we beat Chris" in a way only an experienced birder could. Also, a big thank you to the sponsors, the NT Government, and Lone Dingo and any other sponsors I haven't mentioned. Also thank you to all those involved in the Red Centre Bird Week.

The full list of birds is at the end of this post, but first a few reflections and photos from the day:

Our twitchathon started at Kunoth Bore. We arrived at 5 pm on Friday afternoon and it was hard to explain to the boys that we couldn't start counting until 6 pm. At the starter's gun, a western gerygone flew into a tree less than 10 metres away. Tick number 1! From then on, we quickly ticked off somewhere near 20, a female red-capped robin causing most excitement as the wind was blowing so it looked like a "tufted" something new. Banjo somehow spotted a mulga parrot, which I would have walked past, and it was about then I realised the main assets on the team was the enthusiasm and eyesight of the boys. The sunset was another spectacular experience for us all to enjoy:

We travelled down the Hamilton Downs camp road after dark and eventually came across a Tawny Frogmouth. Our only "night bird" but very exciting when we saw it.

The boys tumbled into bed about 9:30 and were asleep by about 9:32. 

At 5 am the next day, Saturday, we were back in the car, Moses only slightly awake but still keen to be involved. We headed down to Redbank Waterhole on Owen Springs Station. The sun rose just as we pulled into the camping area, trying desperately not to disturb the campers sleeping by the river. I was delighted to see some of the birds I suspected/hoped would be there. A great egret, darter, and little black cormorants as well as a couple of pied cormorants, red-backed and sacred kingfishers and so the list went on, including this young Whistling Kite:

We stayed for about an hour before piling back into the car and munching on some more breakfast. Driving through Owen Springs Station we came across Australian Bustards, 5 in total, and then once again the boys proved their worth by spotting birds off in the distance, both in trees and the sky. By the time we hit the bitumen on Larapinta Drive, our list had grown to 56 and grew to 57 with spotted turtle dove when we stopped at home for a comfort break.

Onwards out east this time to eventually end up at Trephina Gorge, stopping off at Jessie Gap and Corroboree Rock to pick up a few "hopefuls" including spinifex birds and western bowerbird at Jessie Gap, and grey-headed honeyeater at Corroboree Rock:

We went into John Hayes Rockhole and saw some dusky grasswren, and a friendly rainbow bee-eater sat in a tree near the road:

The boys were starting to flag and just before 2 pm we headed off to our final destination, the Alice Springs Waste Stabilisation Ponds. We picked up quite a few birds but by 4 pm Moses had had it. I was surprised it had taken that long, as at 7 y/o, a 24 hour twitchathon was always going to be a tough ask. But he was brilliant, as was Banjo at 9 y/o. We had been tweeting when I could throughout the 24 hours and read that both Mark and Chris, were around the same number as ourselves, but Mark was ineligible due to being adjudicator ( and he had stopped a number of hours earlier), and Chris had had to work, also on a similar number to us. Bob Gosford made the tweeting even more enjoyable with his tweets throughout the day.

Amazingly, we hadn't seen a black kite all day and after a tip from one of the desert park staff, decided to check around the back of the tip. We didn't find a black kite, but we did find three cute little brown falcon chicks:
Banjo was keen to do anything possible to make it to 3 figures, but Moses was really struggling, and I didn't want to turn the day into a soured experience so decided to try to keep both boys happy by going to the Desert Park, but look for some white-browed babblers. We found them, thus bringing our tally to 91. An amazing achievement as I thought getting to 80 would have been a good effort.

Off to the BBQ and presentation. Everyone was welcoming and friendly and although I was keen to hear the "bird" stories, was aware that the boys (and I) were tired, and tried to keep the adult talk to a minimum and keep them amused. Thankfully this wasn't too hard. Banjo's explanation mentioned above re Chris' count was probably a bit strange for Chris meeting Banjo for the first time but he was a champion in the way he took it. One of the often asked questions or posing of question in our car throughout the day was "how many has Chris got?" or "do you think we'll beat Chris?"

And so we came to the official count and ceremony and watching Banjo's reaction, as well as the smile on Moses' face really made the whole experience even more worthwhile than I thought possible before the event began.

My final word before the listing of the birds is to say that regardless of how many birds we counted in 24 hours (which is a "day" record for me), meeting the people involved outside our team was wonderful. But the best part of the 24 hours was a dad being able to spend all that time together with his 2 sons.

Red Centre Twitchathon 2011 - Buff Budgies Team Bird List:
Australian Bustard, Black-shoulderd Kite, Whistling Kite, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon, Australian Kestrel, Australian Hobby, Tawny Frogmouth, Diamond Dove, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Spinifex Pigeon, Spotted Turtle Dove, Galah, Little Corella, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Budgerigar, Australian Ringneck, Mulga Parrot, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Fairy Martin, Splendid Fairy-wren, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-winged Fairy-wren, Dusky Grasswren, Striated Pardalote, Western Gerygone, Weebill, Inland Thornbill, Slaty-backed Thornbill, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Singing Honeyeater, Grey-headed Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Orange Chat, Red-backed Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Magpie Lark, Western Bowerbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Little Woodswallow, Black-faced Woodswallow, Grey Butcherbird, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Torresian Crow, Richard's Pipit, Clamorous Reed-warbler, Little Grassbird, Rufous Songlark, Zebra Finch, Mistletoebird, Crested Bellbird, Whiskered Tern, Black-tailed Native-hen, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Australasian Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wodd Duck, Black Swan, Darter, Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Pacific Heron, Great Egret, Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, and Wood Sandpiper.

1 comment:

  1. Well done folks. 90 birds could take me a few weeks! I'll work on it 'though 'COS THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!!!