Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thomas, Thomas, Andrew & McBride, "The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia" - A WA-centric Review with Additions/Errata

This book has been well reviewed elsewhere (see below), so we will largely restrict this review to a WA perspective, and add some (hopefully useful) comments to supplement the WA site and species listings in this recently released 2nd edition. We’ll endeavour to keep this page updated as things change and we collect more info.

Things don’t start well for the west when the opening paragraph of the WA section throws an outrageous slur against WA’s “relatively few” endemics. I presume they don’t refer to regional endemics, since with now 15 endemic species south-west WA is arguably second only to tropical Queensland as an endemic bird area within Australia. I guess they mean “fewer of Australia’s endemics are found in WA” – a fair cop. And I guess an obsession with endemics can be excused in a book that is mainly targeted at tickers and twitchers!

All-in-all this is well-produced and attractive book, and there is no doubt this is a much better book than both its 1st edition, and the dated and less accurate alternatives of Bransbury’s “Where to find birds in Australia” and (for WA) Noela Marr’s “Where to find birds in Western Australia”. However there are a few things about it that irk.

The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia - cover page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spring Calls for Bitterns

Spring has arrived and it’s time for all good birders to get busy! There are many options for birders in spring as the bush birds are in breeding mode and the migratory waders are returning from the north. But for a dedicated crew, the calls of bitterns beckon and cannot be ignored!

Australasian Bittern in flight at Kulinilup Swamp, part of the Muir-Unicup wetlands near Manjimup.

We head out to swamps and lakes at twilight throughout the south-west of Western Australia and listen for the resonant booming of the endangered Australasian Bittern and the staccato “wooks” of the Australian Little Bittern. The male Australasian Bittern usually calls from September to December in WA but can call from as early as August and to as late as January.