• "MEET A MEMBER" #2 Ashy Drongo

    Ashwin is a super hardcore birder from NSW. He is one of a new breed of birders who's passion and enthusiasm speaks for itself.

    What is the first thing you think of in the morning?
    Usually something along the lines of ďWhat time is it? Why is it so late? Why did I waste the morning sleeping, when I could have been out doing something (maybe even birding!)ÖĒ This seems to happen ever morning, yet Iím unable to make myself actually get up earlier

    How long have you been birding?
    Iíve been interested in birds for as long as I can remember, certainly since I was 5 or 6 years old. Going through some old stuff a while ago, I found a list (on butcherís paper!) from Centennial Park in Sydney which would have been made when I was about 6 and included such rarities as Willie Wagtail. I guess I became a proper birder when I was 8, so over ten years ago now, when my parents gave me a pair of Pentax binos, and a Slater Field Guide.

    Do you remember what it was that got you into birding?
    My parents are birders. Itís as simple as that. They promoted an interest in wildlife, and in particular birds, and my Dad was always sure to help me with identification. You might think this gave me a massive advantage over the other young parent-dependent birders out there, but Max and Josh, both over a year younger than me, have significantly bigger lists, so apparently there is no advantageÖ My twitching instincts are definitely a result of Sean Dooley's book "The Big Twitch". His account of his big year, in which he spent the entire 365 days birding and racked up a massive >700 Australian birds set my mind running wild as to the potentials not only to keep lists, but to get out and see rare and unusual birds.

    If you had to choose to take only your binos or camera with you on an outing, which would you choose?
    Ooh, this is tough! I think it depends entirely on where Iím going, and the birds I expect to see. If I heading somewhere that has birds that Iím familiar with, I would take the camera, because generally, I can identify them by call, naked eye, or even using the camera as a handheld scope. But if it was somewhere with new birds, definitely the binos Ė lifers are worth more to me than winning photos.

    How often do you have time to get out into the field?
    Not often enough! Ideally I would get out somewhere every couple of weeks, but that hasnít really been the case. For the last couple of years, Iíve had school to thank for that (I only went properly birding 11 times last year). Thankfully, thatís all over now, and if I can get my driving license (Pís) in the next few months, hopefully Iíll be more able to go places

    Do you have a favourite location that you keep going back to?
    The Warrumbungles and Coonabarabran region. Itís an area 500km north-west of Sydney that we as a family have gone to at least once a year for 15 years, so I have a strong bond with the place. Beyond that, it is also a great place for birding, as it lies right on the eastern edge of the ranges of a lot of arid-zone birds (such as Crimson Chat and Blue Bonnet), and the western edge of a lot of ďeast coastĒ birds (such as Turquoise Parrot).

    Do you have a dream destination where you would love to twitch?
    I think, with regards to twitching, it is hard to go past Christmas Island. So many firsts (and repeat-offending vagrants) turn up there that it has to be the number 1 spot for Australian twitchers.

    Have you a preference for birding in the morning or afternoon? If so why do your prefer this time of day?
    The morning, definitely. I love being up really early, before dawn (while I canít normally make myself wake up at that time, when I do, itís fantastic), and having the light levels slowly lift, and being there as the birds ďwakeĒ. While in the afternoon, I feel like I am racing against the sun to see birds before the dark comes, in the morning, I feel like I have forever to see things, which makes me feel so more relaxedÖ

    Are you superstitious when it comes to birding?
    Not especially. But I do believe that going without either binos or cameras is an invitation for the good birds to come out of hiding

    If you could go on a twitch with any one person, who would that someone be?
    Iíd probably go with my Dad, lame as that might sound. We have a birding chemistry that only comes from ten years in the field together, which means we know just by body language when thereís a bird around and where it is. It helps that we get along really well tooÖ

    Have you a favourite bird? If so what makes this bird so special?
    No, I donít, mainly because I donít really know how I could ever judge it. Sure, some birds look better than others, and some are rarer than others, hence there is a greater thrill in seeing them. But some I just have soft spots for because of one-off or longterm experiences.

    What is it about birds in general that keeps you going back for more?
    Itís a lot more interesting to watch a lyrebird foraging than a wombat, isnít it?! For me, I think it is because wildlife, and particularly birds, represents everything that human life doesnít have Ė the freedom to go where you want, do what you want, and not be constrained by rules and systems. I say birds in particular because the ability to fly (in the majority ) sets them apart from us even further. There is definitely an element of addiction Ė the need not only to see them all, but to just see them, and get away from the (convoluted, urbanised) world for a few hours

    Have you thought what you will do after you tick every Australian bird?
    Haha not really Ė Iíve still got 450 to go. I guess Iíll either try to photograph every Australian bird, or tick every bird in every state. I donít think Iíll be going international though.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: "MEET A MEMBER" #2 Ashy Drongo started by Chris M View original post