The Bird Observers Club of Australia President, Ms Jill Plowright and her husband Howard visited MI last Friday and although highly impressed with the Island Jill was also quick to urge Islanders to "look after it".
Jill and Howard were on a return journey from Cape York and had already visited the Townsville Club to invest a Life Membership on the Townsville Club's dynamo, Ms Rosemary Payet. This time they found the time to visit MI and were accompanied by Island birdwatcher, Christine Corbett.
Jill told MT, Magnetic Island is a great place for birdwatching but you've got to look after it!" She had returned from a tour of some of the Island's best birding spots commenting that, "I'm convinced these natural attractions are becoming more and more what draws people for tourist visits". A keen birder for over 30 years and BOCA President since 2001, Jill has some advice for Islanders wishing to become more active in birding. "I think it is better to begin with a loose group and get out on expeditions with somebody who knows their birds".
BOCA has been operating in Australia since 1905 and has between 3,000 and 4,000 members but, as Jill put it, "is more of a social organisation than the more scientifically based Birds Australia."
According to Jill, "Magnetic Island is suited to relaxed bird watching. It's a waste of time getting 'twitchers' (bird observers who seek out rare and unusual species to add to their list of observed birds) here." She also noted the advantages of the Island providing the ideal combination for keen birders to come somewhere, see a great range of birds at close quarters but be somewhere their family will also be more than happy to accompany them to.
"Bird observing suits many people who may be less interested in sporting activities - people who may not be able to perform in physically demanding pastimes. It is especially good for people with disabilities. You don't have to go to the end of the earth to be an observer." said Jill.
Another aspect to the couple's trip was Howard's work in digitalising all the bird calls collected by BOCA over years. Howard is updating the calls onto CD but found some which could not be converted so he is keen to collect more material as he finds it. Ideal for this purpose is a single bird's song, recorded without other background noise. In this regard Howard was particularly impressed with the friarbirds he heard at the wetland near Cockle Bay.
Island organiser, Christine Corbett told MT, "Jill and Howard had a wonderful time here and were very impressed with the Island's natural heritage values still preserved here so close to a major city. Our trip to the Horseshoe Bay lagoon was an absolute highlight due to the new access paths and number of birds there". The group spotted a jabaroo, royal spoonbills, a darter, grebes, purple swamp hens and many more.
Christine is planning on the first gathering of the "fledgling" Island birders, possibly on the last Sunday in August. See MT for more details.
Photo: Howard and Jill Plowright (left & centre) with Island birders, Larry Corbett, Tania Scheutt & Christine Corbett.
Story: George Hirst