World record set by birder

I regard myself as a devoted and keen birder. I am not a twitcher – I usually can’t be bothered going to see a rare bird even if it occurred a few kilometres away from home. I am not a fanatic – I do have other interests (too many in fact). I do not go racing all over the countryside in order to see birds.

But I am a lister of birds seen. I keep day lists, month lists, year lists and a life list. None of them are very big because I do not regard birding some kind of competition or race to see the most species. I do keep all of my sightings on a database stretching back as far as 1977. I guess that is bordering on fanaticism.

I do admire birders who dedicate a whole year to seeing as many species as possible. Even more, I envy birders who have had the opportunity to travel to almost every country of the world in order to make a life list of thousands of species. Their single mindedness to the task is admirable, and I hope that they have fun doing it.

Until a few days ago I had not heard of world record holder for having seen the most bird species on a global scale. I had read about a previous record holder Phoebe Snetsinger, but the name of Tom Gullick was a new one to me. At age 81, this dedicated Englishman is the first person to have seen over 9000 different bird species in a lifetime. You can read about him here.

With a world wide life list hovering around just over 400 species, I have a long way to go to catch up. I haven’t even seen half of Australia’s bird species yet. [Sigh]

Happy New Year

Male King Parrot Adelaide Zoo

Male King Parrot Adelaide Zoo

Where has the time gone?

I was just getting over Christmas and then WHAM! New Year hits us and now I find that a week – a whole week – of 2014 has gone by without me wishing all my readers a Happy New Year.

Disgraceful.

Someone please slow down the clock – or add another month or two to the calendar. I need an extra few weeks/months in every year to get done the things I plan to do.

Many years ago I had a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon pinned up near my desk at work. The caption read: “God put me on Earth to achieve a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I am going to¬† live forever.” I feel that way right now – and have frequently felt it over recent years.

So with no further ado, let me wish all of my readers a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

One of the hindrances to not sharing anything new here recently has been the peaceful passing of my mother-in-law. It has meant a flurry of activity, including a rushed trip home from Sydney where I’d hoped to have been out birding a little more. Mum’s funeral was a celebration of the great things about her – not the hardships and ill health of recent years. It was also a time of gathering together family and friends to remember the good times with much laughter.

What about the birds?

Good question.

I’d better get around to telling you about the birds I’ve seen recently. One species I longed to see in my son’s garden in Artarmon was a King Parrot. Even my 5 year old grandson can identify that one because it is a frequent visitor to the garden. Sadly none made an appearance while I was playing with the children during our three week stay.

King Parrot

On a brighter note I did see about 4 Australian King Parrots during our day-long visit to Mt Annan Botanic Gardens at Campbelltown in the south of great Sydney. The light conditions were poor – very overcast – when I tried to photograph them, and the photo below is the best of a poor lot. At least you can see that it is, indeed, a male King Parrot.

The photo at the top of this page is one of my favourites and was taken in one of the walk-through aviaries at Adelaide Zoo here in South Australia.

King Parrot at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens Sydney

King Parrot at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens Sydney

Wonga Pigeon, Adelaide Zoo

Wonga Pigeon, Adelaide Zoo

The Wonga Pigeon is found in the eastern coastal regions of Australia, from south eastern Queensland through eastern New South Wales and south eastern Victoria.

It is a bird of the rainforests, drier woodlands and eucalypt forests. It is largely a ground feeding bird.

These photos were taken in a walk through aviary in the Adelaide Zoo, South Australia. I have only ever observed this species on one occasion in its natural environment. That was in Dorrigo National Park in northern New South Wales. Considering that my sighting of this species was recorded over 30 years ago indicates I need to get out birding far more often.

Wonga Pigeon, Adelaide Zoo

Wonga Pigeon, Adelaide Zoo

Wonga Pigeon, Adelaide Zoo

Unidentified bird in Meknes, Morocco

Unidentified bird in Meknes, Morocco

One of the frustrating things about touring another country, one quite foreign to one’s home base, is not being able to quickly identify the birds you see. I get that even here in Australia, especially when I visit family in Sydney, two day’s drive from home. At home it is a different matter as I can generally ID a species merely by call. It’s even fun sleeping in, making a list of species in the dawn chorus.

On our two week tour of Morocco I was primarily a tourist, taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and cultural differences. Birding was low on my priorities, and photos – like those shown today – were taken on the run and often at extreme zoom.

I have really puzzled over the bird shown in today’s photos, which I took in Meknes. The best I can say is that I think it might be a Western Jackdaw. The general appearance seems to fit this species, as does the habitat – a large square with many people with several dozen of these birds present.

If any of my readers can throw a more positive light on it, please let me know. UPDATE: one of my readers has confirmed that the bird is indeed a Western Jackdaw. Thank you.

Unidentified bird in Meknes, Morocco

Welcome to readers of the Murray Valley Standard

Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Welcome to all of those readers who have come to this site as a result of reading the article in today’s Murray Valley Standard newspaper. I am pleased that you made the effort and hope you enjoy my articles and photos about birds.

This site is about sharing my interest in Australian birds seen in our garden here in Murray Bridge, along the river and other places throughout Australia whenever I get the chance to travel. Some of my articles also include photos of birds seen on various overseas trips, the latest being recently in Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain. Many of these photos will continue to appear over the coming months.

Comments

My sites are all interactive, meaning that readers can leave comments. Just click on the link that says “comments” just under the heading of this article (above and to the right of the photo above). I’ll respond to as many as I can.

If you want to find out more about me, click here (the link takes you to my writing site).

If you want to read about my travels, including overseas, click here. That site also includes many photos.

Australian Pelican, Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Purple Swamphen, Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia