It can happen to anyone. You chance upon a common pigeon, take a happy snap and forget about it. But in the back of your mind, chemicals start firing, neurons start falling into place. At first, you don’t even realise what is happening, and then, before you know it, you’re a full-blown twitcher, lying prone on the edge of a lake, staring through binoculars poised below your brimmed hat. Whichever stage of development you find yourself in, you may be interested in the recently released book, Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots: The 55 Best Birdwatching Sites in Australia.
Prefaced with some background information on birds — including their evolution, bird families, birdwatching ethics, behaviour, and a handy diagram (you may know what a beak is, but can you tell me what ‘tertails’ or ‘lores’ are?) — the book then plunges into a state by state breakdown of the ‘megaspots’ of the title. Each state and territory is accounted for; the spots are mostly on or within a few hundred kilometres of the coast. The pages for each megaspot lay out a brief introduction of the place, and key facts about getting there, fees and permits, and facilities; before swooping into the birding ‘tracks, trails and sites’, the key species to be found, and detailed info on habitat, behaviour, and physiology of two birds that appear in the area.
This guide is not light bed-time reading. Its focus is practical; and to that end, it thrives. I can see this book sitting in the glovebox of many a 4x4, to be taken out upon packing up camp. ‘Where to go?’ the driver might ask, and the passenger, flicking through the pages, might say: ‘How about Mallacoota? We’re a chance of a White-bellied Sea-Eagle there’. For the free-roaming, improvising traveller towing a camper, this guide can help give purpose and success to your interactions with the avian population.