Nov 2008 - Double twitch for the Biggest Twitch! 17-02-2009
It was with some trepidation that I arrived at Tullamarine Airport to pick up my two globetrotting guests Alan & Ruth from the Biggest Twitch.....
6th November, 2008
It was with some trepidation, a bit of excitement and lots of nervous anticipation that I pulled in to the Travelodge carpark at Tullamarine Airport on this day to pick up my two globetrotting guests Alan & Ruth from the Biggest Twitch www.thebiggesttwitch.com Would I fail to help them in their year-long quest to see as many species as possible? Would I misidentify key species? Would they pick up rare bird calls in the field before I did? Would I look like a fool???
Fortunately my fears were somewhat allayed two minutes after we met and fifty metres from their apartment with the first of their sought after species safely reflecting off their retinas. A Purple-crowned Lorikeet was happily and obligingly feeding low down in some blossom in one of the eucalypts outside the long-term carpark, and the trail-blazing couple was more than happy. And what a couple they were. Ruth and Alan were amongst the nicest people I have met and I felt at ease right away. Sean Dooley (of best-selling novel 'The Big Twitch' fame, see his website at www.thebigtwitch.com) had put us in touch a couple of weeks previously as he was unable to meet them on the required dates due to prior commitments. Which is where I stepped in...thanks Dools.
Ruth and Alan were in Melbourne for one day and had a couple of target locations/species, the PC Lorikeet as mentioned above, and Australian Painted Snipe, recently split into a species in its own right from the Greater Painted Snipe of Africa and Asia.
So after the lorikeet we shot off to yours and mine favorite waste treatment plant that Alan & Ruth had heard all about in Dool's top read, and soon were feasting their eyes on Brolga, Cape Barren Geese, Stubble Quail, Striated Fieldwren, and hearing Lewin's Rail calling from the saltmarsh. Alan even took a moment to drink in the sweet and dulcet tones of a nearby Skylark; the scene evoking memories of the motherland for the big bloke. Stoked as they were we couldn't stay however, and Edithvale Wetlands beckoned from across Port Philip Bay. And there we headed, the entire trip fortunately taking no more than an hour due to there being no roadworks on Citylink. A small miracle in itself.
The Oz Painted Snipe was seen in fortuitous circumstances that came about as we were just about to leave the wetlands having looked in vain for an hour and a half. Unseen in the closed-to-the-public bird hide had been a volunteer doing some paperwork, and as he was leaving he saw us milling about in a state of desperation. Quickly herding us into the hide the guy showed us the snipe straight away, 3 metres away immediately below the viewing window. You sort of had to twist your head, mash your face against the glass then look down to the full extent the optical muscles would allow to get a decent view, but a decent view it was and everyone was cock-a-hoop.
Had to hit the road snappy like and get Alan & Ruth back to the airport, thus ending our day's adventures, but it was a terrific day all round with heaps of laughs and fantastic birds.