28 October Update (very abbreviated!)


A Big Year record for Australia!

The 'big one' - Semipalmated Plover, 
a day or so after its return from who-knows-where,
just in time for a BIG YEAR record twitch: 721
After a tipoff from Broome birder Adrian Boyle, that the annually returning Semipalmated Plover had arrived in Broome yesterday, I joined a group of expectant birders to locate the ‘SemiP’ at first light along Simpson’s Beach, Broome this morning. David Hair located the long-travelling vagrant at about 5:45 this morning, several hundred metres away from where I was searching, and kindly alerted me with a phone call. This brought the ‘Birding for Devils’ total to 721 – and a new Big Year record.
This result nicely finishes a very hectic three months since my last blog entry (sorry!). I do hope to write up various trip reports for this productive stretch, which saw me targeting a few important species near home, in Sydney to Hunter (with valuable much-appreciated help from Mick Roderick); out on the Tasmanian waters for three separate weekends, where I seemed to begin sprouting sea-legs for the first time in my boat-phobic lifetime – and it seems that I’ve actually begun to enjoy sea-birding! (highlights: Grey Petrel, both Royal Albatross species and Soft-plumaged Petrel) back up to the Brisbane region (highlights: Lewin’s Rail [finally!], 

A single Middendorf's Warbler on West Is
resided in area of dense spinifex grass

southern ssp of Marbled Frogmouth, Eastern Ground Parrot and King Quail); Darwin and Kakadu with co-lunatic off-sider Tim Faulkner (with a HUGE result with White-throated Grasswren, as well as Little Ringed Plover); across Vic and SA with nary a sign of Australasian Bittern (ducked up to Gluepot Reserve to get the Scarlet-chested Parrots without skipping a beat); across the Nullarbor (got the QT on the run) to SW WA (where my best efforts over a three day period in search of critically endangered Western Ground Parrot at Cape Arid failed to produce the goods nor two half-days search for Bitterns, but I had fun, being joined at Albany by Robyn for a relatively laid-back week revisiting the SW skulkers, and tracking down a few remaining birds, including SW ssp of Crested Shrike-tit, both ssp of Western Corella, and the discordant yet oh-so-elegant Mute Swan); then successive daily marathon-drives northwards through WA, zig-zagging thousands of kilometres to round up Western Quail-thrush at Mt Magnet, the Shark Bay population of Western Grasswren, and the western ssp of Striated Grasswren (A. s. whitei) at Newman [which proved surprisingly tough to locate].

A kazillin Roseate Terns on
Lacepede Islands in the Indian Ocean

A Lesser Noddy was found grooming itself 
in a sea of Common Noddies

And finally this morning’s ‘Mega’ - the freshly returned wayward (Russian?) summer resident, the much-twitched and well-travelled Semipalmated Plover. The tiny lonesome wader put me over the line at 721 species seen this calendar year, eclipsing Sean’s decade-lasting Big Year record (by IOC list) - and equally providing yet another big highlight for an increasingly unbelievable year. And two more wild and crazy months yet to go! Next week Lord Howe Island, then Cairns and Torres Strait again, Cocos and Christmas Islands again, the ‘super-pelagics’ from Albany to Hobart, then Hobart to Macquarie Island and beyond, then a final nine day sprint on the mainland to finish the year off, hopefully with successful hunts for a good proportion of the few outstanding species.

Common Redshank at Crab Creek, Broome
I don’t know when, but I will try to find time to write some proper trip accounts for these past few months - whenever the action slows down. Yeah, right.