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Thread: "MEET A MEMBER" #2 Ashy Drongo

  1. #1
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    Default "MEET A MEMBER" #2 Ashy Drongo

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

    What is the first thing you think of in the morning?
    Usually something along the lines of “What 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!)…” This seems to happen ever morning, yet I’m unable to make myself actually get up earlier

    How long have you been birding?
    I’ve 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 butcher’s 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. It’s 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 advantage… 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 I’m going, and the birds I expect to see. If I heading somewhere that has birds that I’m 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 – 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 hasn’t really been the case. For the last couple of years, I’ve had school to thank for that (I only went properly birding 11 times last year). Thankfully, that’s all over now, and if I can get my driving license (P’s) in the next few months, hopefully I’ll be more able to go places

    Do you have a favourite location that you keep going back to?
    The Warrumbungles and Coonabarabran region. It’s 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 “east coast” 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 can’t normally make myself wake up at that time, when I do, it’s fantastic), and having the light levels slowly lift, and being there as the birds “wake”. 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 relaxed…

    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?
    I’d 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 there’s a bird around and where it is. It helps that we get along really well too…

    Have you a favourite bird? If so what makes this bird so special?
    No, I don’t, mainly because I don’t 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?
    It’s a lot more interesting to watch a lyrebird foraging than a wombat, isn’t it?! For me, I think it is because wildlife, and particularly birds, represents everything that human life doesn’t have – 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 – 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 – I’ve still got 450 to go. I guess I’ll either try to photograph every Australian bird, or tick every bird in every state. I don’t think I’ll be going international though.
    Last edited by Chris Martinez; 14-03-2012 at 07:47 PM.

  2. #2
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    Now I know you a bit more Ashwin
    These are really interesting - great idea! You do a great interview Chris
    Life List: 1438 (Black-backed Bittern)
    Aus List: 565 (Ditto)
    Our shared Blog - http://fortheloveof-birds.blogspot.com.au/ (Max and I)

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    Good to know more about you Ashy. Interesting to see "The Big Twitch" inspires you, I've just ordered a copy and can't wait to read it.
    Cheers, Owen.

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    Aus life list: 472 (Southern Royal Albatross, Port Fairy Pelagic, Victoria)

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    Pleased to meet you Ashy! Always interesting to learn a little more about our members and thanks to both yourself and Chris for taking the time out to do the interview.

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    Great read Ashy

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    Wonderful read, and as the others have said, it's good to know a bit more about you
    Reposts welcome =)

    Blog- Close Encounters of the Bird Kind. Updated 28/05/2014 "Courting Cuckoos"

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    Well done guys. Interesting & enjoyable read.

    So Ashy, What's your picture tick total?
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

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    Thanks for this contribution, Ashwin and Chris. Wow, what a lifetime of birding you have ahead of you! You must feel like someone staring at an enormous feast with all the time in the world to work your way through it. Enjoy every minute of it Ashwin.
    Margaret Leggoe
    Never too old to learn.

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    Excellent Ashwin - nice to read about your reasons for your interest in birds and great your Dad and you are such good mates! Fantastic stuff cheers David Taylor

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    Great stuff guys - a great read! Where are all the bird photos, Ashy? Don't let the camera gather too much dust
    Aust. Life List (IOC) - 315 (Rufous Owl- 11/09/2014)
    Dale Mengel Photography - a work in progress!
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    Thanks Ashy and Chris. Great read
    I'll have to get that Sean Dooley book; have just finished a book by a UK twitcher Mark Cocker called 'Birders - Tales Of A Tribe' , the things people go through to see a bird....I'd never heard of a Satyr Tragopan

    Cheers, John

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    Hi guys - thanks for the interview - so nice to "meet" you Ashy - wishing you a lifetime of happy birding. Good luck with those P's, and whatever comes next. Thanks so for taking the time to do these Chris. - loving them.

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    Great to meet you Ashy. It is awesome to know that there is some young passionate birders out there.
    Aus list 632 (Powerful Owl, Callala Bay, NSW, 01-05-2014, finally thanks Matt!)
    Year list 159 (Powerful Owl, Callala Bay, NSW, 01-05-2014)

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    A great read Ashwin and Chris. Lovely to read of your passion Ashwin and I really like the bit about your dad being the person you'd go twitching with. Sounds a very special relationship.
    'Birds are beautiful because they are beautiful to themselves' Richard Prum
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