Nowadays I normally spend New Year’s Day in the NENBC area, doing the club Birding Challenge. The challenge being to get out of bed, get birding and get my New Year’s list off to a good start. This year it’s been a bit different, as we’re down-under in Australia, visiting family. In a gesture of NENBC solidarity I decided to generally stick as close to the ‘rules’ as possible but, since celebrations on New Year’s Eve also involved Dan’s 40th birthday shindig, I opted for a later evening start – to coincide with UK time – followed by a morning session on the 2nd. In total we birded for about six hours, all of which was spent within the Newcastle LGA – essentially birding within the city limits. By the end of the evening session we’d seen around 65 species – this morning we managed to push that total to 106. This involved more ‘heard only’ ticks than I’m used to but Australian bush birding is like that. If I wasn’t sure, after listening to the audio track, then I didn’t count it. That probably cost me another dozen species. Most of the birds were the regular stuff, which we’ve been seeing since our arrival, but I did manage to add a couple of trip ticks. Unquestionably the bird(s) ‘of the day’ was the adult and young Powerful Owl we found this morning deep in a damp gully in Black Butt Reserve. It’s only the third time I’ve seen these monster birds – which mainly feed on Possum – once, about twelve years ago, in very nearly the same spot and once in the ‘go to’ location for UK birders – the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden. Tomorrow we’re off early to try to add a couple more rainforest species to my Hunter list.