Quolls are carnivorous marsupials (genus Dasyurus) with four species found in Australia and two in New Guinea.
For those of you that didn’t hear: the Australian ‘Big Year’ record was officially broken at the end of 2012. Steve Weigel has annihilated his predecessors, seeing 745 species of bird in Australia in a single year, beating the previous record of 720 set by Sean Dooley in 2002. Just let that sink in for a moment. Seven hundred and forty five different bird species.
Seen by one man.
In one year.
Steve has used his big year to raise money and promote a Tasmanian Devil breeding facility known as Devil Ark.
My interest in the ‘big year’ phenomenon comes after a friend leant me Sean Dooley’s highly entertaining book ‘The Big Twitch’ about his now surpassed record attempt. Big years have a long and colourful history in Australia, originating from England and North America.
We marvelled at the concept, wondering what it would take to achieve this kind of feat. To properly undertake a ‘big year’ people quit jobs, re-mortgage homes, spend life savings, baffle and alienate loved ones and dedicate every waking minute to being in the right place at the right time. It requires commitment, organisation, a touch of madness and a good bit of luck to get anywhere near the record.
Feeling inspired, our gung-ho attitudes were quietly quashed with a few stern words from our significant others, both pregnant. Ok so this was probably not a good time for either of us to quit our jobs and start a big year. But what about a big year of sorts? A ‘not so big year’? Where we would record how many bird species we could see in a year in our day-to-day lives without going particularly out of our way. But not just the ‘year list’ that many birdos make. This one would be a competition with high stakes; a carton of XXXX. So we started the next day, 18th March 2012. We also roped in a couple of mates living in central Australia to keep things interesting.
With three months to go the ‘not so big year’ is going on strong, and personal tallies are in the order of 300+ species per competitor. It feels like we seen a huge amount but our lists pale in comparison to the epic records set by the true bird nerds of Australia.
Stay tuned for the official wrap up of our ‘not so big year’ at the end of March.
For Steve Weigel’s bird list and more information on Devil Ark see his website Birding for Devils.
A few weeks ago on his early morning drive to work, Dan spotted an unusual ‘snipe’ wading through a drain in a cane field, right by the highway. He stopped to double check, and called an emergency ID confirmation from a fellow birder – Marj. Latham’s snipe – Tick.
The Western Swamp Tortoise is Australia’s most endangered reptile. It has an ancestry that dates back 15-20 million years, but for 113 years this tortoise was thought to be extinct.
At 11 cm long (head and body), with a tail up to 14 cm long, Mountain Pygmy-possums are small enough to fit comfortably in your hands. A Mountain Pygmy-possum weighs an enormous 45 grams! Tiny Mountain Pygmy-possums (Burramys parvus) hibernate during winter in snow laden boulder fields on the coldest slopes of the Snowy Mountains.
This month not for profit organisation Earthwatch are busy chasing volunteers for their expeditions to discover more about the unique and fascinating wildlife of our Cloud Forests here in Queensland…
Escape the sounds of the bustling city as you step into the lush and tranquil tropics on Earthwatch’s Wildlife of the Cloud Forests expedition. The sounds of a bird chorus at dawn and trickling waters of nearby creeks and streams will be your new home, as you immerse yourself in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
As those of the birdwatching community would understand, it’s always satisfying to get a clean sweep and sight all of the members of one bird ‘family’. And nothing could be more exotic than covering the length of Queensland to see the four Australian-based ‘Birds of Paradise’ from the family Paradisaeidae.
An interesting news story caught my eye this week – a group of kids were found playing in a suburban Sydney street with a Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Luckily, a passer by recognised the turtle for what it was, and reported it to NSW DPI.
Having lived in Queensland’s south east for 17 years and providing snake relocation services I’ve heard more than my fair share of supposed ‘taipan’ sightings in properties throughout Brisbane’s western suburbs and Ipswich. Amongst the hundreds of suspected taipans none have ever eventuated in this highly overstated species…until now.
Twelve months ago, BIG readers were asked if the cassowary could weather Yasi’s storm. Before the sun had set the day after the category 5 cyclone belted the Queensland coast, cogs were already turning as the community and State Government banded together to address and manage the impact to the endangered, Wet Tropics population, of the southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius johnsonii.