December 17, 2015: Melbourne, Australia — Things are speeding up as I hit the final sprint. Exactly two weeks to go! No sleep ’til New Year!
I spent the day with Simon Starr and Sean Dooley, two of Melbourne’s top birders. The three of us headed along the Great Ocean Road, a stretch of achingly beautiful highway that parallels the seashore southwest of Melbourne, targeting a few remaining coastal birds on my wish list.
It was a gorgeous summer day, not too hot with a slight sea breeze. Simon and Sean knew where to look for each bird and we bounced from one to the next, seeing things like Gang-gang Cockatoo, Southern Emuwren, Hooded Plover, and Rufous Bristlebird. At this point I have encountered most of the widespread, common Australian birds, so now I’m cleaning up the uncommon ones.
Sean did a big year within Australia in 2002 and subsequently wrote an entertaining book called “The Big Twitch” which I read several years ago. I also interviewed him for Birding magazine in 2013, so it was fun to finally meet him in person.
Late this afternoon on our way out of Great Otway National Park, Simon and Sean told me to be on the lookout for furry lumps in the Eucalyptus trees. As we wound down the road, I looked out the window and saw a couple of gray spots clinging to a tree trunk. On closer inspection, they turned out to be koalas—real, wild koalas!—taking a snooze. One looked up sleepily as I snapped its photo. Yep, this is Australia!
New birds today: 14
Year list: 5877