Friday, 4 January 2019


Here we are in 2019.  A whole new year ahead of us, in which I plan to see lots of birds.  A new year with renewed enthusiasm and heightened expectations.

I'm hoping I might see five new lifers in 2019:  a modest enough target I hope.  Most years I achieve more than that.  The last couple of years, I've managed 11 ticks each year, including a couple of splits last year.  But, as my total grows, the possibilities for new birds diminishes.  Funny that.

Surely, if there is any justice in the world, I'll see my White-necked Petrel this year.  Another bird quickly gaining the status of bogey bird for me is the Black-eared Catbird.  I've spent more money looking for that than I care to calculate.

Only once have I managed to see a lifer on the first of January.  That was in 2008 on the Abrolhos, when I saw my first Lesser Noddy.  Other January lifers include the White-throated Nightjar in Bunyip State Park in 2004, a whole host of Bamega specialties in 2006, the Hudsonian Godwit at Werribee in 2009, the White-rumped Sandpiper at Lake Wollumboola in 2015, and the Paradise Shelduck at the same spot a year later, the South Island Oystercatcher at Broadwater in 2017 (my 800th bird), the Lesser Black-backed Gull at Buffalo Creek the same year and the Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Lake Murdeduke also in 2017.

And then:  the Tufted Duck at Werribee's Western Treatment Plant on 3 January 2019!

Tufted Duck, photo by James Mustafa
This makes my hopes of five lifers for the year seem eminently achievable.  Who would have thought that a Tufted Duck would turn up in Victoria?  I've seen them in the UK, but that didn't give me anything like the excitement of getting them on my Australian list.

Let's hope some more exciting vagrants get lost somewhere near here some time soon!

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