Thinking About Birds

After moving to Newcastle, I developed a strong interest in the birdlife of the Hunter Region. It's an incredibly diverse region, with so many different habitats present. It also is at about the southern limit for many northern species and the northern limit for many southern species plus many western birds come in especially in times of inland drought. As a result, more than 450 species have been recorded in the Region (including out to sea).

My interests extend way beyond just "seeing local birds". I am determined to add knowledge and understanding. From 1993 to 2018 I prepared annual bird reports (a total of 25 of them) for the Hunter Region, a massive task each year. I retired from that job after completing the 2017 bird report in late 2018, only to put my hand up almost straight away to become one of the editors of HBOC's ornithological journal The Whistler. My mission is to open up authorship of articles in the journal to a wide range of locals i.e. to encourage people into science a bit more.

I also am slowly but steadily researching the rich and fascinating ornithological history of the Region. John Gould spent considerable time locally, for example. I have published four papers about the Hunter's ornithological past. A recent "breakthrough" was a way to develop distribution maps for birds in the Hunter Region (see under Publications for more details).

I also do what I can to promote birdwatching in the local community and help local and visiting birdwatchers. One example is that once per month over 2016-2018, I was interviewed about something to do with birds on Port Stephens FM community radio.  Another is a project with HBOC to prepare birding route brochures describing places to find birds within local areas (Rob Kyte does the all-important design work, I just do the content). Other examples are to help organise display stand for HBOC at events such as the Tocal Field Days, Australasian Bird Fair, Welcome to the Waders, Biodiversity Day.

Latest news

For 2020 I have started a "Featured Bird" series for HBOC members, who will receive a fact sheet about some particular species each month. The January bird was the Golden Whistler, and February's will be the Spangled Drongo.

In October 2019 I gave a talk in Gloucester at a local community forum, about the birds of the Gloucester Tops. The feedback from the attendees was very positive.