Monday, March 16, 2015

Birds of the Ballarat Region: A handbook by Roger Thomas and Jack Wheeler.

Birds of the Ballarat Region: A handbook by Roger Thomas and Jack Wheeler. Paperback book published by Roger Thomas 1983, 112 pages with a few colour photographs and one black and white map.

The first readily-available bird guide of the Ballarat area, written by its most experienced bird observers. Useful for anywhere in south-eastern Australia, this guide to the birds of the Ballarat region gives details of distribution, habitat, status, numbers, arrival and departure dates of migrants, and the places to find the birds. The text is arranged in three parts, according to habitat—a change from the usual taxonomic groupings. A useful innovation is the inclusion of brief but concise identification keys, enabling all birds to be readily identified. All keys are cross-referenced to the text. lndispensible for all birdwatchers, bush-walkers and casual observers.”

Huc & Gabet headquarters are within the Ballarat Region and yes, there is a noticeable amount of bird life around here. Probably one of the most prolific and therefore noticeable birds in the area, is the Cockatoo, of which when I say there can be thousands circling the town, I really do mean thousands. Generally you become aware of them as the noise is fairly intrusive and it's as obvious as a good book is amidst a shelf full of rubbish, that something is going on. When I hear the Cockies circling overhead, I don't need to reach for a book in the hope of identifying what the noise is, I reach for earplugs*.

Probably my favourite local bird (yes, I have a favourite bird) is the Wedge-tailed Eagle, which is one of our local feathered friends that you don't see here in downtown Clunes, but do see in the surrounding country side. A few weeks back I was at an Australia Day barbecue at a farm just out of town... and yes, it was a very Aussie celebration. It was my first visit to this farm and I was quite awed by it and it's impressive vista. It was mid afternoon and after mentioning my vista awe to some of the other guests, I was informed re the Eagle display that usually took place around dusk. I'm fairly sceptical about this sort of thing... you know, the whole nature will perform for us at this and this time... but I kept an open mind and wouldn't you know it, the Eagles delivered. It was an outstanding display of hovering and near stationary Eagles (there was more than one) in the wild, in full hunting mode. It was so great, that here I am a month and a bit later writing about it in this blog.

Both of the birds I have mentioned above don't really need looking up in “Birds of the Ballarat Region”. I can identify a Cockatoo and an Eagle with some confidence. There are plenty of other birds around here that i'm not so familiar with and a book such as this could be quite useful. I have one slight criticism of it and that is a lack of photographs or illustrations of the majority of the birds listed. There are a few photos, but a complete novice like myself would love some more pictures. Still, it's nice that there is a book like this with a local flavour.

* I don't actually own any earplugs... 

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