Sunday, 30 December 2012


I achieved seven lifers in 2012 and (while I was disappointed with my annual tally) I did see some good birds.

Without a doubt my best bird of the year in 2011 was the Scarlet-chested Parrot.  Philip Maher showed them to me.  There were over a hundred of them at Yumbarra Conservation Park north of Ceduna in South Australia.  They were curious and flew in close to look at us.  It was a spectacular sight and a memorable experience.  And a very easy choice for bird of the year.

Scarlet-chested Parrot, photo by Jim Smart

This lovely photo was taken by Jim Smart, who I met on a pelagic out of Port Stephens last April, when I was hoping to see a White-necked Petrel.  We went out on a Saturday and did not see the bird.  Others went out the following day and they did see the petrel!  Such are the frustrations of birding.  I will have to try again next year.  Who knows, it might be my bird of the year for 2013.

For 2012, my bird of the year is not quite so obvious as last year's Scarlet-chested Parrot.  There is more than one contender.  I am tempted to nominate a grasswren, as (thanks to Peter Waanders) I had excellent views of four species, and two of these were lifers.  One of the lifers was particularly special, as I had spent much time looking for it unsuccessfully myself.  That was the Grey Grasswren, and a very beautiful little bird it turned out to be.  The other lifer was the Eyrean Grasswren, and that was very special too.  Peter also showed me a Banded Whiteface, another lifer for me and another possible contender for nomination. 

Another lifer I achieved in 2012 was the Chiming Wedgebill.  This one I got by myself.  I had thought of this bird as the last easy bird I had to see, and, sure enough, we drove to the designated spot (Dresley Creek in South Australia), stopped the car and heard the bird.  It took another five minutes and I had great sightings.  I thought at the time, that no other lifer would ever be quite so easy.  Then the Franklin's Gull turned up at Paynesville in Victoria, my home state.  It could not have been easier.

However, although the grasswrens were very beautiful, I have decided on the Grey Falcon as my bird of the year.  Peter Waanders found that for me too.  I had hoped to see one of course, but I had not expected it, so it was an added thrill.  It was so elegant, seen beside comparatively chunky Brown Falcons.  They were on a communications tower at Cowarie Station in far north South Australia.  An absolute delight.  A difficult bird, one I'd always hoped, but as I say never expected, to see.  Sean Dooley (who achieved the remarkable feat of seeing over 700 birds in one calendar year) refers to the Grey Falcon as a "mythical bird."  It is not an easy bird to tick and well deserves to be my bird of the year.

Now I look forward to 2013 and wonder what birding delights it holds in store.

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