There are less than 2,000 Swift Parrots in the wild, so when 1% of the world’s population was reported at the La Trobe University Campus Bundoora, I was determined to see them. As one of just two migratory parrot species, their arrival on mainland Australia is always met with great anticipation and excitement in the bird world. I have been ritualistically seeking them out for the last five years – three of which they decided to spend a month in the same square kilometre.
One day after the first report I was able to mobilise and visit the site. The directions were quite clear: in the trees near the pond at Car Park 7. This turned out to be the easiest twitch ever, because the Swift Parrots could be heard upon driving in the carpark, and were visually-ticked before even switching off the engine!
I spent an hour with about 20 Swifties as they flew, called, and fed in the surrounding gum and pine trees – a truly magical experience that I had all to myself. The number of birders visiting in subsequent days skyrocketed, with the presence of the birds even being mentioned in the University newsletter. Over the next few weeks, hundreds of people – birders, locals, students, staff – were able to enjoy the spectacle of a rare bird calling their backyard home. Now that’s a fantastic outcome for conservation awareness of this magnificent and endangered species!
Bonus for those who scrolled all the way to the end: I then visited the nearby Gresswell Forest Reserve and ticked Scarlet Robin, Eastern Spinebill, and Rufous Fantail.