Saturday, September 12, 2009


In Australia there is a well-developed culture based around birdwatching. As is common in these parts, birdwatchers have developed their own set of jargon to describe their activities. To twitch is to head out into the bush to find a specific species of bird. To tick is to find that bird and add it to the list of birds you have seen or tick it off the list of birds you wish to see. Chris likes birdwatching. He seems to have worked in a lot of jobs that require birdwatching skills. He just finished reading a book called The Big Twitch. It's about an Aussie who quits his job as a comedy writer and heads out across Australia to break the birdwatching record. The record stood around 650 different species of bird in one year. I think that this book has pushed Chris from interested participant in the activity of birdwatching to entering the twitcher designation. Over the course of the past couple weeks I've actually learned a great deal about birdwatching and am starting to form an appreciation for the skills involved. I've always wanted to improve my ability to identify different families and species of birds and this has been a good start. Chris owns a bird book be Simpson and Day which is one of the best keys to bird species in Australia. The book is also really well designed and interesting to look at, so I've picked up a few things along the way.

One thing that twitchers really like to do is keep a list of the birds they see over certain periods of time or in certain geographical locations. Chris came to Australia aiming to see 200 different species during this trip. He's at 197 last I checked and he's on his way to the Broome Bird Observatory to volunteer for a few weeks so he's going to smash his goal. For his lifetime of record keeping he's nearing 800 birds. I can't wait to get an e-mail when he reaches that milestone (I'm actually excited about that).

To follow this great tradition of twitching and in honour of my time spent at Two People's Bay I've decided to keep my own list in the back of my journal. I really enjoy seeing all of these new creatures and trying to figure out what they are, so my list includes all sorts of mammals and reptiles too. I'll post an update once I make some more progress. Hopefully I keep adding the birds after I leave Two People's Bay.

King's Skink - Coastal Trail, Albany WA - August 30/09
New Holland Honeyeater - Coastal Trail - August 30/09
Galah - Middleton Beach - August 30/09
Bandicoot (Quenda) - Coastal Trail - August 31/09
Quokka - Two People's Bay - August 31/09
Fur Seal - Coastal Trail - August 31/09
Western Grey Kangaroo - Two People's Bay Road - August 31/09
Gilbert's Potoroo (in captivity) - Two People's Bay Conservation Program - September 1/09
Long-nosed Potoroo (in captivity) - Conservation Program - September 1/09
Carnaby's Cockatoo - Coastal Trail - September 1/09
Common Bronzewing - Coastal Trail - September 1/09
Crested Tern - Little Beach - September 2/09
Australian Pelican - Two People's Bay Beach - September 2/09
Red-capped Parrot - Two People's Bay - September 3/09
Elegant Parrot - Moingup Campground - September 4/09
Wedge-tail Eagle - Bluff Knoll - September 4/09
Little Eagle - Cocanarup Timber Reserve - September 8/09
Barn Owl
Fox (invasive predator)
Brush-tail Wallaby
Chestnut Teal
Sooty Oystercatcher - Little Beach - September 11/09
Whip Bird
Carpet Python - Two People's Bay Tool Shed - September 12/09
Humback Whale - Two People's Bay - September 12/09

Hopefully, this week I'll see a Gilbert's Potoroo in the wild. I'd have to see a Long-nosed Potoroo outeast in the wild.

The Malleefowl is special because it is a rare bird in these parts. There is an aviary near Ravensthrope that is attempting to protect the Malleefowl, but I saw it in the wild. Malleefowl build a huge sand mound in which they lay their eggs. They don't sit on the eggs to incubate them because the sand and decomposing vegetative material keep them warm enough. The chicks are fully feathered when they hatch and can fly within 24 hours. I also saw one of their mounds in the bush. Chris really wants to see a Malleefowl in the wild, but he went on a different trip last week. When I told him I saw one he accused me of gripping (birdo-speak for bragging about seeing a specific bird, I think - have to check the glossary on that one). Then he stomped around the granite shore for a bit. Even still, I really hope he does get to see one this trip.

Also, I still haven't heard a Noisy Scrub-bird, which is the creature I came here to help survey. We've had lousy weather for birding and we haven't been able to enter the wet areas for fear of spreading dieback fungi. I've got one more chance to hear one tomorrow, so fingers crossed that I don't dip (birdo talk for going to an area to see a special bird species and not being able to find it).

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