John Weigel, Australian champion Big Year lister
Yesterday morning – early of course – we assembled in MacDonald’s car park for another expedition into Hexham Swamp. The cause of this latest visit, Australia’s 8th Buff-breasted Sandpiper, observed there on Saturday by a couple of lucky birders. Several car-loads of Australia’s elite twitchers were assembled, including John Weigel who, in 2012, set a new national Big Year record of 745, eclipsing former record holder Sean Dooley’s total of 720 – this achievement being immortalised in his highly readable account, The Big Twitch. With just a year off, John is back on the trail, seeking to break the 750 barrier for the total number of species seen in Australia in a single year – he must be insane! Our modest efforts last year to see over 300 in the UK in a single year seemed demanding enough ( see ‘301 – and still counting’ December blog ) but the challenges of an Australian Big Year record breaking attempt are truly herculean!
‘Bottom line’ however was that the Buff-breast wasn’t seen, by John, us or anyone else for that matter! I did manage to rack-up a couple of Aussie ticks though, in the shape of Pectoral and Wood Sandpiper.
Wood Sandpiper – a scarce summer visitor to NSW
Pectoral Sandpiper, defending it’s territory from a Sharpie.
A couple of shots of Grey-tailed Tattler, in the roost at Stockton
Our return visit to Stockton sand-spit, later in the afternoon, added another couple of species to the trip list, which currently stands at 228 – just another 522 to go then!!