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Thursday, October 5, 7 PM

Capertee Valley


Well, I made it over the mountains today, and I am settled in to my digs in the Capertee Valley.  I have a great little studio “cottage”, which is attached to the back of the owner’s house.  We are about 20 miles from the nearest little store/gas station, in Capertee, at a place called Glen Davis.  Amazingly, the place has power, phone service, and even town water, which is a real luxury out in the bush, where most people get by on rainwater they save or delivered “tank water”.  The place is extremely comfortable and the setting is just incredible.  I drove over the Blue Mountains today, reaching an elevation of about 3500 feet at the highest point.  That is the Great Dividing Range, so now I am officially “out west”, even though I am only about 100 miles from the east coast, on a continent as wide as North America.


To back up to the last entry here, I ended up getting about four hours of sleep last night, total, in fits and starts.  Interestingly, I felt quite good today, and not sleepy at all.  I hope I can do a little catch up on sleep tonight, because I have an early start tomorrow, and a long day planned.


I got out early this morning and bought a pre-paid internet access package at 9 o’clock, when the shops opened, and I got it set up on my computer after a lot of futzing around.  I managed to connect and upload my Ramblings01 from the hotel, before I left today.


I got a taxi to the Budget Car Rental place, and the taxi driver gave me some great directions for getting out of town.  It wasn’t the most direct way, and it involved a lot of city driving, but it was simple and easy to follow, so I appreciated it.  Interestingly, I found driving on the left to be quite natural this time, and I didn’t make a single mistake all day, even in parking lots, which is usually the worst.  Well, I did turn on the windshield wipers several times when I was trying to turn on the turn indicator, but that is normal at first.  With a right hand drive car, the turn signals and the windshield wipers are reversed from what we have in the States.  I’ll gradually get used to that again, and I had a good laugh each time the wipers started up.


It was pretty warm today, in the 80’s, I guess, but the car has good a/c, and I did fine.  I have a nice little 6 cylinder 4 WD SUV, and I am quite comfortable in it.  I had about 15 miles of dirt/gravel road to day, and some of it was pretty washboarded, so I am glad to have the high clearance SUV.


I didn’t stop much on my way out here, although there are some nice scenic places along the way, and some potential birding sites.  I did make one stop for lunch, and got a delicious chicken and vegetable pie, and I also stopped for a big grocery shopping, since there is no food out here in the sticks where I am staying.


I was eager to get here and get settled in, especially since I didn’t know how long I could go on the four hours of sleep I have had in the last two days.  I did stop a couple of times when I got close to my destination, when interesting looking birds showed themselves.  Even though I didn’t really do any active birding today, I have a total of 16 pretty common birds on my trip list now.  Most of those came after I got here.  It took me a while to move all my stuff into the cottage, as I was seeing and trying to photograph birds all the time.


As I said, this place is really comfortable.  It has a nice little deck with chairs and a table, and once I got settled in, I sat out there and had some of my Bundy rum with orange-mango juice, and some mixed nuts.  I kept seeing birds, and marking them in my book, too.


I also used that time to review my camera manual.  I just got this camera in June, and with the big hoo-rah with the state over the house, I never got around to really getting familiar with the camera, and I found I had forgotten a lot of very basic things about it.  I looked those things up, but it is going to be embarrassing tomorrow, when I am birding with other people and can’t even operate my own camera.  My pictures aren’t coming out well yet, either, because I have forgotten so much about the camera.  I hope to get this posted to the website this evening, but the first photos are going to have to wait, I fear, probably until Saturday.


Tomorrow I am signed up with a local bird guide, Carol Probets.  She is very well known in the Aussie birding community, and I am very fortunate to be able to spend a whole day with her tomorrow, along with a couple of other birders.  I expect to see a lot of birds that I would have either not seen or not identified on my own.  I just hope I can get some good sleep tonight, so I don’t completely crap out tomorrow.  She is picking me up here at 7 AM, and it is supposed to go until the end of the day, which is about 6:00 or so here, at this time of year. 
We had a very nice sunset tonight, and I will be interested to see how my pictures of it came out.  It also seems to be just about a full moon, and it was rising in the east as the sun was setting in the west.  A very, very beautiful evening.  It was about 83 degrees when I got here, and by the time the sun set, it was about 74, and cooling fast.  There was a nice breeze from the west, making it very comfortable.


The “best” birds for me today were a White-plumed Honeyeater, Red-rumped parrots, Double-barred Finches, White-winged Choughs, and Speckled Warblers.  All are common, but I enjoyed seeing them on my own.  All except the Choughs were in the yard here at Oskas Cottage, which is where I am staying.


Okay, I’ll get myself a little rudimentary dinner now (kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator, and electric frypan), and then knock on Oska’s door and see if I can get online and post this to the website.  I have a question in my mind about the password for my internet access, so we will see how it goes.


I’ve been here in Australia less than 24 hours so far. Amazing.  It seems longer.


Barry Downunder


PS – my favorite Aussie town name today was Cullen Bullen.  I wonder where that came from?