For our first Atlas profile, we feature Joe Dillon, a young birder from Cambridge and keen Atlaser!
Can you tell us a bit about your background, how long you’ve been birding and what first got you interested in birds?
I’ve been involved in conservation since I was about 6 when I joined a little biology/environmental science/tramping club in Hamilton called Junats. That exposed me to nature a lot and eventually I decided to do my year 8 science fair on bats. Through that I met a birder who told me I should join Birds New Zealand, and I never went back.
What is the rarest, or most memorable bird that you’ve seen?
I was once baiting at Pureora for Pirongia Restoration Society way of track. I stumbled across a little clearing with about 15 Long tailed Cuckoo, including a few juveniles which all flew up into the air at once and flew around in circles calling before flying off towards the north. This was at the end of autumn so probably the start of their migration north.
How long have you been using eBird?
I think I had my first ebird checklist in 2015 at Kidd’s Beach back in 2015. I have gradually increased using eBird to the point that since the start of 2019 I have been using it every day, and now I use it about 4-5 times every day for Atlasing pretty much everywhere I go.
How did you hear about the NZ Bird Atlas?
DOC Te Rapa had a winter survey of the Kawhia Harbour shorebirds so I thought I’d tag along and atlas the whole thing. I ended up on a tinny boat going all around the harbour. Ticked off about 6 atlas squares that hadn’t been done yet and managed to find the wintering Godwit flock.
What has been your most memorable Atlasing experience so far?
All in all at the moment I’m finding birding one of the most important parts of my life since I’m heavily involved in the SS4C [School Strike 4 Climate] action movement. I kind of see ecological restoration as my duty and the main thing I can do to help and I think initiatives like the bird atlas are a major part of that.