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October 29, 2006 – 7 AM

Albany still


I got to bed at 9:30 last night, and slept pretty well.  When I woke at about dawn, which comes about 5:30, there was a big racket going on outside.  A group of birds was calling loudly, and it sounded interesting.  I got up and grabbed my binoculars and rushed out to see what all the excitement was about.  It was a group of a dozen or more “white-tailed” Black-Cockatoos, mostly perched in trees right in front of my chalet.  There are two species of “white-tails” in Western Australia, short-billed and long-billed, and in most of their range, you find both species.  You have to get a good look at their bills to tell them apart, or you can also tell from their calls, but the calls are supposed to be similar enough that a visitor shouldn’t rely on that.  I had seen white-tailed Black-Cockatoos at the Striling Ranges, but never up close.  I was told that they only get the Short-billed Black-Cockatoo there, because of the environment, so I had counted that species when I was there.  So, which species did my noisy visitors belong to?


I got the binoculars on them, still wearing my nightshirt and night bite guard, fresh from my bed.  They looked like they had long bills, to me.  So, I rushed back inside and grabbed my camera and took some shots, before they flew off.  As they left, I grabbed the car keys and went to the car and sat there and played the CD of the calls of the two species.  Yes, they sounded like long-billed ones to me.  The calls were indeed very similar, but there was a difference, and I could still hear my visitors calling from a little farther away, and they sure sounded like Long-billed Black-Cockatoos to me.


So, I downloaded the pictures and compared them to my field guide, and that confirmed it – Long-billed Black-Cockatoos.  I had gotten my next lifer tick while still in my nightshirt!  Since my goal is now one new bird for the trip list per day, I guess I can go back to bed for the rest of the day now.


But, I had plenty of sleep last night, so I will go off sightseeing along the coast, and I have one more place to visit to look for the elusive Red-eared Firetail.  I will also try to find an internet café in Albany, to get this and Photos 11 posted to the website.  The excitement just never stops.


Sunday evening, October 29


I got a little out of synch, and the pictures of the Long-billed Black-Cockatoos ended up being part of Photos11, which I posted this morning.  More on that later.


I was off by 8 this morning, to see some coastline and search for my bogey bird, the Red-eared Firetail.  My secondary target was the Southern Emu-wren, a tiny bird with a long wispy tail.


I drove to Middleton Beach and took the scenic drive around the point to the Central Business District, and I stopped at the first lookout point.  There is a very nice paved walking/bicycling path around the headland, and it was getting a lot of walkers, even at 8 on a Sunday morning.  I walked along the trail a little, and went up a dirt side path.  There were New Holland Honeyeaters around, but not much else.  Then I saw a little bird, and got the binoculars on it.  A male Red-winged Fairy-wren in partial breeding plumage.  A good bird, but not one of the ones I was looking for.  I stayed at that spot, and saw another male Red-winged Fairy-wren, in full breeding plumage, which is very colorful.  Then I saw a flash of red!  I got the binoculars on it, and it was an adult male Red-eared Firetail!  My bogey bird had been seen.  What a stunning little bird it is, too.  It has a bright red rump that you see when it is sitting or when it flies away, and a red slash by the eye as well.  The breast and flanks are black with white spots.  I got great views three times, probably of the same bird.  What a little beauty!


After that excitement, I hung around a little longer, looking for an emu-wren, but had no further luck.  I drove on around the headland to the Central Business District, intending to stop at the Visitors Center, if it was open, to ask about internet access.  As I came into town, there was the Albany Backpackers, a place for kids traveling around to crash in a room or dorm type room, for cheap.  The sign on the window said “Internet”, so I stopped and went in.  It was about 9 on a Sunday morning, and the town looked very closed up, but they were open, probably because it is actually a hotel of sorts, with people staying there.  I had to ring a bell to get a person to come to the front desk, but then I was able to buy a half hour of high speed internet access for Au$3.50, well worth it to me.


I got Photos11 uploaded to the website, and chatted with Christina briefly, and then was on my way again.  I headed to the Torndirrup National Park, which is on a peninsula across the harbor from Albany.  I stopped several places, to take pictures and look for Southern Emu-wren.  I did get some pictures, but saw no emu-wrens.  It was getting on toward noon by then, and I was getting hungry.  I hadn’t brought a sandwich today, so I needed to find some food.  There wasn’t really any choice but Whale World, an “attraction” that had a replica of an old time whaling ship (maybe it was an actual whaling ship, I don’t really know), and a number of other exhibits about whaling.  Not the kind of tourist thing I am interested in, but they also had a little restaurant.  I paid what I thought was an exorbitant price for some fish and chips and salad, and a Diet Coke.  As it turned out everything was really excellent, and I enjoyed my lunch in front of a window looking out on the bay.  Very untypical for me, but it turned out to be a great thing to do.  I should eat in restaurants more often, I suppose.


After that, I explored more coastline and stopped at more scenic points, moving generally west, the direction I will be heading tomorrow morning.  I didn’t see any more birds for my trip list, but I saw some very nice beaches and coastline.  I did get a picture of a White-necked heron, but no other bird pictures today, other than the Black-Cockatoos this morning.  I have a small collection of pictures that I plan to post as Photos12 tomorrow morning, along with this Ramblings, as I head out of town.


Internet access at the Woody Grange Chalets has turned out to be the only downside of staying here.  The chalet is very comfortable, I love the isolation and the view, and there are good birds around, too.  I have enjoyed my relationship with “Skinky”, the skink who lives in the rockery by my verandah.  I talk to him as he moves around the area, to seek out the sun to bask in, and probably to forage for food.  But, the owners of the place are out of town, and their college age daughter has been tending the store while they are gone.  She is nice enough, but she has her own priorities, which don’t include hanging around to let this old man use their phone line.  I was able to get online in the evening the first two nights here, but today she has gone back to Perth, where she goes to school, I think, and her parents won’t be back until tomorrow night, after I am gone.  So, the Backpackers place was good this morning for internet access, and I will use it again tomorrow morning, as I head out of town.


So, anyway, this afternoon I finally got tired of exploring coastline and beaches, and looking in vain for any emu-wrens, so I headed back for “home”.  I had planned on getting something for dinner on the way home, and needed to re-stock on Bundy rum as well.  Well, it turned out that I had miscalculated, and supermarkets in Albany aren’t open on Sunday.  The second one I tried had a big sign advertising that they were open “all day Saturday”, as if that were a big deal.  It closes at 5 PM on Saturday, and opens again Monday morning.  I wasn’t impressed.


This morning I had noticed a 7 day mini-market not too far away, so went there, and was able to buy a couple of meat pies which I will heat up and eat with the rest of my chunky frozen vegetables, which will actually make a fine dinner.  I asked the guy there about supermarkets, and it turns out that there is one supermarket open on Sunday, from 9 to 7, located on the waterfront in the center of town.  Albany supposedly has a population of almost 35,000.  One supermarket open on Sunday seems really primitive to me, but I wouldn’t want to criticize the locals without knowing the whole story.  Only a few gas stations were open today, too.  The guy at the mini-market was able to tell me the location of a liquor store (bottle shop) open on Sunday, so I was able to get my rum as well.  Just another little cultural lesson for old BB.  Not everywhere has a 24 – 7 economy.


So, I got back here with my liquor and pies about 4 and enjoyed the peace and tranquility and watched the birds and the kangaroos in the area.  There was a group of about 8 or 10 kangaroos in the field with the cows, and it was interesting to watch them all move around.  The cows seemed to keep moving to where the kangaroos were, without seeming to pay any attention to the roos, and the roos kept moving on, whenever the cows got close.  One poor medium sized kangaroo was on the outside of the fence around the field, and he didn’t seem to be able to jump it.  I don’t know how he got outside the field, and all the kangaroos must have jumped the fence to get into the field at some point.  He might have been able to jump the fence, but it is taller than he was, and it has two strands of barbed wire at the top, so maybe he was just reluctant.  When I would move toward him, he hopped off along the fence, not over it, to join the rest of the mob.  I had gone on a walk this morning, and I got a picture of a larger kangaroo jumping over a similar fence, so I know they can jump the fence under some circumstances.


So, I sat out on the verandah and had a drink, enjoying the view and the peace, as I said.  There were visits from a Scarlet Robin, the local Western Spinebills, Red-capped Parrots, and other birds.  Eventually, I moved inside and processed my pictures and am now writing this.  I’ll see if I can get them both uploaded to the website tomorrow morning at the Backpackers place.  I wonder what is on TV on Sunday night in Albany.


Barry Downunder, ready to move along now


Monday morning –


OK, the pies were excellent last night for dinner, and I finished up the frozen vegetables.  I had another good night’s sleep, and now I have packed everything and had my brekkie, so I’m ready to hit the road, Jack.


No cockatoos this morning, to wake me up, but I heard a cuckoo calling, so I threw on some clothes and went out and looked for it.  I found it after about 15 minutes, and it was a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, a species I had seen in the Hawkesbury with Keith.  It was good to see it and associate the call with the bird, though.  I think I will remember that one now.


Off to Pemberton now, to a B&B, assuming they know I’m coming.  I looked at my emails, and I don’t see a confirmation email from them, after I said I would take the room.  That reminds me of Kalbarri, where they had no record of my booking.  Will history repeat itself?  I’ll try to get there early, so if they don’t have a room for me, I can find something else.  Only about 2 to 3 hours of driving today, so I can take it easy.