The First …

A new calendar game starts.

You are in the game on January first. To stay in the game you have to add at least one species of bird to your year list for each day elapsed. A big day on the first makes you safe for a while. If you fall behind the days elapsed you are out. The last one to go out is the winner or by reaching 366 (it’s a leap year) there could be any number of winners.

My total last year was 386. An insignificant achievement when compared to Sean Dooley’s 703 in 2004. Sean wrote a book about that year called The Big Twitch. I get an acknowledgement in the book, not, I suspect, because of my enormous assistance but rather so I would buy the book. It worked.

This morning I was out of the house at 6 am. It was 24°C (75°F) already and would become hot and windy. It’s been a dry old time. One of the local hot spots is, by coincidence, Dooley’s Road. It backs on to the Maryborough (Victoria) sewage treatment plant and has some much abused remnant vegetation and I visited the sewage ponds as well. Plus some local box ironbark forest. I chalked up 50 species including Crested Shriketit, Little Eagle and the elusive Freckled Duck. No point staying out after noon. Safe until mid February. The Crested Shriketit has a viscous little hook on the end of its bill that it uses to tear away bark to get at the insects underneath …

Crested Shriketit

Playing the game with mammals wouldn’t get me through January but I did see Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Swamp Wallaby. Many prefer the name Black Wallaby for the Swampie on the grounds that it has no preference for swamps which is very true, but nor is it black. The scientific name is Wallabia bicolor, the two coloured wallaby. Also untrue, it’s dark brown with rufous around the ears and a whitish stripe on the face, the tip of the tail is often white. The poor creature stands in need of an appropriate name.

Swamp Wallaby

By all means join the game. Wherever you are in the world. Post your tally in the comments, I look forward to hearing from you.

Time for me to get back to the thrilling account of my trip through the desert …


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