After recent years dabbling in Twitch-lite (the 8 hour Champagne section), we returned to the full 24 hour Twitch, extreme birdwatching at its most gruelling. Max drove over from the Coonawarra, Russell unpacked our new telescope, Frank plumbed new depths with the kitty bag that he bought, Paul was silly to sit near it and was photographed (see attached), Philip was doing his filial duty for his ageing mater and was a scratching and I was apparently my usual ‘frenetic’ (as described by another Loudmouth) self.
We gunned the hired 12-seater up the highway to stay overnight in St Arnaud and then on the next day to Rainbow for Saturday lunch. Now, I’ll give you some advice and this is for free – don’t, repeat don’t, be tempted by either the marinated steak and salad (sic) or the sausages and eggs at the middle pub. There’s only two pubs in town since the top pub burned down years ago – old names linger long in Rainbow. The steak wasn’t flash but the salad was execrable, cubes of potato drowned in glutinous mayo and spirals of sort-of- red-smeared pasta, not a hint of green to be seen. The red in the sausages wasn’t ‘sort of’ though. It was crimson. The sausages were probably thrown on the grill straight out of the freezer with no thawing time. The outside was cooked, the inside red-raw and there are very few who can come at a raw sausage. Libel? My defence is the truth!
We checked all of our starting spots ready for 4 pm. A spotted harrier and a little falcon on their respective nests were good gets and they’d still be there when we were ticking, there was no peregrine where one should be but good wrens and martins.
The starting gun went off, spots 1 and 2 (precise whereabouts will remain secret) were good and spot 3 gave us our best bird, a Crimson chat. Wyperfeld was OK without being great , there was nothing at spot 4 and we were at spot 5 just on dusk – 79 species by overnight.
We started Sunday with our next best bird, a Gilbert’s whistler and some other good dry country birds. We rang ahead for Creswick’s prize-winning pies and coffees – we couldn’t wait around as we knew time meant species. These pies are really something – the Lamb and Rosemary earned a Silver medal, as did the Caramelised Onion. One can only wonder at the magnificence of the offerings from the Ocean Grove Bakery as that’s where you’d go to savour the gold medal pie.
We were still bird watching even as we were pie-munching. Our wet forest gave its usual good return, cuckoos, a kingfisher, a tree-creeper, some honeyeaters; we were in a flurry of ticking. We reached the Poo Farm in good time as a result of our tight discipline and observing our team motto ‘Loudmouths – tight with time’. We found terns, sandpipers, gull and egrets, grebes and crakes, bringing us to the high 160s.Through exemplary time management we were able to get to the zoo where there are wild-living birds to be found in the extensive and exotic plantings over the last 150+ years. When the clock ticked over 4 pm, we had recorded 174 species. We thought this was a good total without being a great total.
But following are excerpts from the official results:
The winners of the 24-hour competition were the Tick-tock Twins with a total of 209 species.
They are very good birdwatchers though, compared to us perennial triers.
Runners-up were long-time Twitchathon competitors, the Common Loudmouths .. . The Loudmouths have, for many years, been 8-hour competitors, so attempting the 24-hour event and scoring that many birds was a great result. Best bird was Crimson Chat at Yaapeet, a great bird for Victoria generally, and for the Twitchathon in particular.
We’ll overlook the pat on the head for ‘attempting the 24-hour event’. We have had 18 previous outings in the 24 hour event while we’d been in the 8 hour event for just the last 5 years. Even so, the Silver Medal in the big twitch is our best result to date and Loudmouths would like to thank all team members of all teams, all sponsors and particularly our sponsors and Birdlife Victoria for their organisation of the event.
Re sponsorships, there’s still time at the URL www.justgiving.com/timeisspecies