Birding Victoria 2006 – a Big Year

2006 proved to be an interesting year of birding for me, mainly because I’d organised a silly competition to see how many Victorian bird species could be seen in a calendar year (VicTwitch 2006). By the end of the year I’d seen 330 Victorian species – although note that this total excludes any pelagic birds i.e. birds seen while out on the open sea on a pelagic boat trip. The following report is bit self-indulgence, so apologies in advance.


To get 330 Vic species in a year I had to travel over most of Victoria, basically visiting all of the major Victorian national parks. For instance during the year (basically from east to west) I had birded at Croajingolong National Park, around the Lakes Entrance region such as Lake Tyers, Phillip Island and Westernport Bay, Port Phillip Bay, Bellarine Peninsula many times, greater Melbourne, Bunyip State Park, Toolangi and Healseville, Kinglake, Western Treatment Plant (far too many times), Brisbane Ranges, You Yangs, Otway Ranges, around Ballarat, Clunes, Warrnambool, the Greater Bendigo region such as the Whipstick, Kamarooka and Spring Gully, Terrick Terrick, Rushworth, around the Barmah forest, Chiltern and Rutherglen, Goschen and Tresco, Lake Boga, Lake Tutchewop, Lake Tyrell, Grampians National Park, Little Desert National Park, Wyperfeld National Park (both north and south), Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Yarrara Bushland Reserve and the Murray-Sunset National Park. Most of these I visited couple of times.

Twitchers twitching Grass Owl, WTP, August 2006.

Here are some of the highlights: a pair of Malleefowl in Nth Wyperfeld, Brown Quail on four occasions, 15 species of duck including Freckled Duck, White-faced Storm-Petrel seen while on the Queenscliff-Sorrento car ferry, good numbers of Artic Jaeger, up to 4 species of albatross (and a probable Sooty Albatross at sea off Parker Hill), 16 species of raptor, both Painted Buttonquail & Little Button-quail, Plains-wanderer at Terrick Terrick National Park, all the crakes and rails which includes Baillon’s Crake, Spottless Crake, Spotted Crake, up to 6 Lewin’s Rail at The Spit, 37 species of wader including Long-toed Stint, Little Curlew, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper (the later seen while riding home from work), Grey-tailed Tattler, Red-necked Phalarope, Painted Snipe (including 8 at one site), 9 Sternidae (terns) which includes Caspian Tern, Crested Tern, Common Tern, White-fronted Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern and Fairy Tern, 8 pigeons including Topknot Pigeon, 6 cuckoos including Black-eared Cuckoo, 26 species of parrot including Ground Parrot, Regent Parrot, Blue-winged Parrot, Turquoise Parrot and Swift Parrot seen on five separate occasions – including while riding home from work in Royal Park. (Unfortunately I dipped on Orange-bellied Parrot (which was the first time in quite a few years).

Birding paparazzi, Terrick Terrick National Park, July 2006.

I also saw 6 species of owl, including Grass Owl, Sooty Owl, Barking Owl, Powerful Owl, Barn Owl and Boobook Owl (and interestingly in 2006 I saw every mainland Australia owl species except 1), 3 species of nightjar in Victorian including White-throated Nightjar, Spotted Nightjar and Owlet Nightjar (and in 2006 I saw all 4 Australian mainland nightjars), 4 species of treecreeper including White-throated Treecreeper, Brown Treecreeper, Red-browed Treecreeper and White-browed Treecreeper.
All the Victorian Maluridae (Fairy-wren) which includes Superb Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairy-wren, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-winged Fairy-wren, both Southern and Mallee Emu-wren, Striated Grasswren, Redthroat, Pilotbird, Speckled Warbler, Chestnut-rumped Hylacola and Shy Hylacola, Striated Calamanthus and Rufous Calamanthus, 31 species of honeyeater including Regent Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, Painted Honeyeater, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Scarlet Honeyeater, etc, all the Petroicidae (robins) and Pachycephalidae (whistlers etc) including Red-lored Whistler, Gilbert’s Whistler and Olive Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher, Satin Flycatcher, Restless Flycatcher, Black-faced Monarch, 5 Woodswallows, 8 finches, 4 Corvids including Little Crow, Apostlebird, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding).

I did have a few Victorian dips (which I’m not going to tell you about) but alas for another year ad multos annos or perhaps memento mori. So far in 2007 I’ve managed to see only 3 additional Vic species to the 330 seen in 2006, Eastern Bristlebird, Eastern Reef Egret and Common Koel.

A very considerate family.

Another interesting and perhaps somewhat unsettling aspect about VicTwitch 2006 was that during the Twitchathon I managed to see 210 species in 24 hours, while it took a further 364 days to see an additional 120 species. If I’d kept up my Twitchathon average I would have seen 76650 species.

So what’s a good total for a calendar year in Victoria? Given that in 2006 I’ve welcomed the birth of my second son James, and also that we sold, and that we moved into a new house, 330 sounds pretty good. I reckon anything over 300 is good stuff (meaning you’ve done some serious birding) and over 320 is fantastic. 330 plus is attainable, with a possibility (if you went totally crazy) 340 to 350. We’ll see! Good luck.

If you add the birds that I’d seen elsewhere in Australian in 2006, which included (which I saw at 10:00 am New Years Day 2007). Red Goshawk, Gouldian Finch, White-throated Grasswren, Chestnut Rail, Banded Fruit-dove, Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon, Sandstone Shrike-thrush, Rufous Owl, Rainbow Pitta to name a few, 2006 was a pretty good year of birding for me.

Tim Dolby

The experience was rewarding, and I managed to see virtually all of Victoria’s bird species in a year.

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