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at the Prison Boab Tree (one of many): and I encounter a stray ornithologist on the road

10 September 2009 | 34 km | Heading west total: 9,582 km

From a distance I couldn’t work out why someone was hanging out their washing by the side of the King River track.

As I got closer I realised they were catching small birds in a fine net strung up between three tall poles.

Someone else had realised what was happening and shortly afterwards the local police sergeant turned up to check the paperwork. It was all in order: Jan was catching and banding the little known Star finch.

The trouble was they are a minor proportion of the small birds around so she spent the majority of her time releasing the more numerous Double barred and Zebra finches that were collateral catches. These are all small birds: a Star finch weighs in at about 11 or 12 grams. I’d seen a few but they are fast flighty birds and there’s not much time to check out their flashes as they dart around the shrubbery.

The Star finch has got a distinctive orangey red head and tail. Not much is known about them and as an enthusiastic amateur ornithologist Jan is collecting some raw data on weight, wingspan, and I guess, distribution and then banding them.

It all seemed hard, hot work with years of effort before any major payoff.

I guess someone has to do it.