Leicas at Goschen

The other day, I visited Goschen, a small reserve about 15km west of Lake Boga in North Western Victoria. It's near a ridiculously tall communication antenna. Some Crimson Chats had been reported there recently, and while I had seen one before, I wanted a decent photo, and besides, I hadn't seen my birding mates for a while.

Our party totalled four, and they're much better birders than I am. Paul and Ruth are the current record-holders for birds seen in one year in Victoria. But Paul and Ruth didn't have the Crimson Chat on their Victorian list, and so they were keen to go.

So at 4am I was up and setting off (astronomers and birdwatchers get used to sleepless nights). The trip from Melbourne is a shade under four hours, so we had plenty of time to talk.

To my surprise. everyone else owns Leica binoculars - more evidence of the seriousness of these birders. Paul uses Trinovid 8x42, and Ruth has Trinovid 10x32, which are lighter. Alan has the wonderful Ultravid 8x32. To make things complicated, Ranger Ruth also has Ultiravid 10x25 pocket binoculars and a Monovid 8x20 for work.

All this equipment put my elderly Nikon Monarch 8.5x56 to shame - apart from the fact that mine are probably better astronomy binoculars.

Spring has sprung at Goschen and the birds are hopping. Displays were common, the Grey Fantail being very active. Fan-tailed and Pallid Cuckoos are also making trouble.

A couple of other birders told us to cross the road and search in the bush up towards a wheat field. Following this advice, we found several Crimson Chats. They are quite nervous birds, possibly because in Victoria, they're off their patch.

We returned to Melbourne via Lake Tyrrell, known for wedding photos, but is also great birding. Regulars include White-winged Fairy-wren, Yellow Chat, White-fronted Chat and Rufous Songlark. We were surprised to find three more Crimson Chats there too.

The drone photo of yours truly at Lake Tyrrell is courtesy of Paul G Dodd Photography.

Three Chats in one day has got to be good!