Sunday, 7 July 2013


Most birders have a bogey bird - that's a bird that they've looked for on several occasions, but which continues to elude them. It's sometimes called a 'jinx bird.'  I have five bogey birds, without counting the uncommon Common Redshank, that I flew to Broome (from Melbourne) to try to add it to my lifelist. I spent a (most enjoyable) week looking unsuccessfully for redshanks.  Under my definition, it won't become a bogey bird until I've flown to Broome (or Cairns or somewhere else) to look for it on several occasions.  I live in hope that I will see it before it qualifies. Five bogey birds is quite enough!

I'm sure I'm not alone in counting the Rufous Scrub-bird amongst my bogey birds.  This notoriously difficult little bird is missing from many people's lists.  I've heard it lots of times and looked for it seriously at both Gloucester Tops and Lamington on more occasions than I care to remember. Most recently, I spent several days looking at Gloucester Tops last April.  I haven't given up on the Rufous Scrub-bird (I haven't given up on any of my bogey birds).  I'm planning a trip to Lamington National Park in October and hoping to see my Rufous Scrub-bird then.  October is reportedly the best month to see them, when they are most vocal.  However, I have looked in October before, so nothing is certain.

Although there are three grasswrens missing from my lifelist, only one qualifies as a bogey bird.  Looking for the White-throated nearly killed me, but I've only looked for it twice, so it doesn't qualify.  And I've only looked for the Kalkadoon once, so it's a long way short of being nominated as a bogey. The one that does qualify is the Short-tailed Grasswren, which I have looked for every time I've passed through the Flinders Ranges.  Stokes Hill is the favoured spot recently, but the grasswren has not favoured me there - yet. I'm hoping I might have another go next November.

Perhaps the Black-winged Monarch isn't really a bogey bird, but it certainly feels as if it qualifies.  It inhabits far north Queensland, north of Cooktown and I've been there four times.  The first time I was just looking for birds, not specifically targeting the monarch, but I did look for it seriously in 1994, 2006 and 2008.  Perhaps I'm stretching my own rules to include a bird I've only searched for on three occasions, but it is not a rare bird and I really feel I should have seen it by now.  It's a bogey to me.

My last two bogey birds are seabirds.  The first is the beautiful White-necked Petrel shown on my masthead.  This superb photo was taken by Brook Whylie.  I've travelled to Wollongong in February or March (I think, without adding them up) six or seven times and to Port Stephens in April twice, targetting the White-necked Petrel.  In April 2012 I dipped on the bird on a Saturday trip.  The boat went out (without me) on Sunday and saw it.  Such is the luck of birding.  I will keep going until I see it.  On the law of averages, I really should tick it soon.

Slender-billed Prion
Yes, my final bogey bird is the Slender-billed Prion. I hope for prions on every winter pelagic I do.  Luckily, I managed to tick Broad-billed, Antarctic and Salvin's on a ghastly yacht trip out of Hobart in July 2009.  I earned those birds!  But I didn't get a Slender-billed, which should be the easiest of the lot.  I travelled to Port MacDonnell hoping for a Slender-billed Prion in June 2012.  The weather was foul and the boat did not go out.  Rog and I drove over again this June.  The boat did go, but we saw only Fairy Prions.  We had great views of a Grey Petrel, which satisfied everyone on board except me!  The same boat went out this month and saw several Slender-billed Prions. Thanks to Grant for this tantalizing photo.  I'm off to Port Fairy next Sunday and if there is any justice in the world, I will see my Slender-billed Prion then.

Then I'll only have four bogey birds to worry about.