Some­thing to squawk about

Geraldton Guardian - - OPINION - Grant Wood­hams

Last week was ap­par­ently Na­tional Bird Week.

I don’t know about you, but I to­tally for­got, so I hope some­one told the birds. They aren’t al­ways the sharpest crea­tures on the planet.

Na­tional Bird Week is an ex­ten­sion of Na­tional Bird Day, which had its ori­gins in Aus­tralia at the be­gin­ning of the last cen­tury when the Royal Aus­tralasian Or­nitholigists’ Union de­cided our birds needed con­serv­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing — a very wor­thy am­bi­tion and one that in re­cent times has seen the NBW joined by the Aussie Back­yard Bird Count.

The idea is to record the birds you recog­nise or look up the ones you don’t on the Aussie Bird Count app on your mo­bile phone, or you could go to their web­site.

I would have failed on both counts. I sim­ply couldn’t imag­ine wan­der­ing around what passes for my back­yard us­ing a mo­bile phone app. A crow, a pi­geon, a willy wag­tail — yes, yes, yes. Got ‘em.

But folks, I’m here to tell you, as I have be­fore, that all my ef­forts to iden­tify, record, cap­ture and pho­to­graph the mys­tery bird which wakes me up ev­ery morn­ing have been spec­tac­u­lar fail­ures. He be­gins his dull, repet­i­tive, tune­less call be­fore the sun is up. Per­haps the bird is wired to the Eastern States and is al­ready on day­light sav­ing time.

Any­way, dur­ing Na­tional Bird Week and the Aussie Back­yard Bird Count, the war­bler had split the scene by the time I got any­where near the tree where his woe­ful bird voice usu­ally calls.

The fi­nal re­sults of this year’s bird count aren’t in yet, but last year some 2 mil­lion birds were iden­ti­fied, with the rain­bow lori­keet be­ing the most com­mon with more than 163,000 sight­ings Aus­trali­aw­ide. It was also the most com­monly iden­ti­fied bird in WA, com­ing in ahead of the New Hol­land hon­eyeater and the pink and grey galah.

There were 578 dif­fer­ent birds in the count, so my own bird­brain logic would sug­gest that my early morn­ing mate is in there some­where, per­haps even keep­ing com­pany with the white fronted tern, of which only one was spot­ted on the en­tire con­ti­nent.

I ea­gerly await this year’s re­sults. Per­haps my avian alarm clock will make a guest ap­pear­ance.

One can only hope, but I sus­pect he didn’t know it was Na­tional Bird Week.

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