(written 29 December 2020, finally visible 6 May 2021)
SO I’ve decided I’m doing a birding big year in 2021 – Victoria, Australia-based only. At the age of 36, I finally have the means to get out and about all over the state and visit all the places and see many of the birds that other birders get excited about and that have sat on my list of things to see since I started getting interested in birds and birdwatching at the tender age of 4 or 5 years old, flicking through our copy of the Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds and later collecting bird cards out of packets of Tynee Tips Tea, finding out about the diversity of birdlife out there and dreaming of the day I get to see it all.
This is not going to be an attempt to break any sort of record, because I am a bit rusty particularly after the year of COVID and because the last person to try still gets discussed for a lot of the wrong reasons. Also, I don’t (yet) have a permit for the Western Treatment Plant and pelagics aren’t up and running again yet so getting reasonably easily IDable looks at shorebirds and seabirds is a bit more difficult than it used to be.
Mostly next year will be in the spirit of getting out of the house – no more weekends spent sitting at home on my bum eating chocolate and getting less fit and less happy – and seeing new things and getting fit again – for as much time as possible. I think COVID will make life interesting again by the middle of next year as I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it yet.
I also want to see as many Victorian birds as I can while I can – I’m not ill or dying, don’t stress – but the fires at the start of 2020 were genuinely frightening and the woodlands I’ve been to in 2020 seem just that bit quieter. It’s a big reminder that we can’t take it for granted that the birds will be there when we’re ready to see them, or in a world dealing with COVID that the freedom to travel will still be there.
The fun part of not making this any sort of record attempt is that I can bend the rules a bit – if I decide to go and look for Plains Wanderer near Deniliquin or do sneaky trips across the South Australian border to look for Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo I can! Or even if I finally make it up to far north Queensland at the end of 2021 then it all counts.