The only bird seen on our last outing for the year was the common parma – crumbed chicken covered in tomato sauce and cheese. Delicious!
The Terminus Hotel in North Fitzroy again hosted our end-of-year dinner. Fifteen or so folk braved the early evening downpour to enjoy the fine fare. Tall tales of the year’s birding adventures were swapped over sashimi, beetroot and fetta salad and the burger or fish and chips pub staples and, predictably, the 16 ales on tap and extensive wine list were sampled too.
John Barkla reassured us that the new bird hide at the Western Treatment Plant had been relocated to the correct water’s edge site and now offered the intended excellent viewing. It had been built incorrectly by the constructor 50 meters away from the water (because it was easier to build on solid ground). Others exchanged tips on blogs and websites for posting bird sightings and photos, while technical hints were offered and debated.
Suitably wined-and-dined, the group adjourned the 200 meters to Fitzroy High School for a show-and-tell. And supper, of course. Others joined us there to swell numbers to 25 or so.
The show-and-tell got off to a stunning start with Ian Wilson introducing a wildlife video made by Nardine Groch about a lyrebird called The Pretender. Nardine is studying with the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, UK, and the film was part of her Masters of Wildlife Filmmaking at the University of West England. She had joined us on our Sherbrooke Forest outing in June and introduced us to the bird called the Pretender – a male superb lyrebird missing one it its two striped lyrate tail feathers.
The question she asked in her film was, could he attract a mate without a full tail display? Fortunately, the Pretender’s vocal range was better than Pavarotti, mimicking a laughing kookaburra, whip bird, black bird and many others species. Lady lyrebirds were suitable impressed and the Pretender’s breeding future seems assured.
What a great way to start the night! We were very privileged to have special permission to see the film before its formal release.
We then moved on to view the members’ favourite images for the year. Most took up the challenge set by Peter to choose their best photo of the year, their best photo from a group outing and something a little creative for their third photo. We were treated to a stunning show, with shots of Sunbirds and Robins of South Africa, birds from the northern parts of South Australia and Queensland and some worthy favourites from our outings – including Rufous Bristlebirds and Southern Emu-wren.
The commentary from each photographer added an extra dimension to the night. Details on the birds and habitats and technical aspects of the photography provided something for everyone. And it was good to hear others bemoan that they too are still trying to get a good shot of a common bird we have all struggled to capture – whether a White-browed Scrubwren, flying Emu or Rainbow kestrel. The magnificent supper allowed further tales of woe to be shared.
What a great night to celebrate the end of another excellent year of bird photo outings!
Our thanks to the Terminus Hotel for their warm hospitality and to Fitzroy High School for hosting us for our picture show. And a very special thank you to Peter and John for all the work they have put in through the year – arranging the outings, checking the locations, marshalling the group to arrive at the right place at roughly the same time, doing the website blog and coordinating and running the end-of-year social night. Really appreciated.
We look forward to seeing everyone for the first outing of 2018 – Rigby’s Wetland and Jells Park on 17 Feb.