Saturday, October 09, 2010


I got to bed about 10 last night, and I slept very well, getting up at about 6.† I only had to get up to pee once, which is outstanding. At home, normal is more like 3 or 4 times.† I always sleep better when traveling, and I have been trying to figure out why for several years.† I would love to stay on that schedule Ė to bed at 10, up at 6.† We will see how I go with that.† At home I usually go to bed between midnight and 1 AM, so it will be a challenge not to fall into that bad habit over here.† Birding is much better in the first few hours of the day.


When I got up this morning, I was cold, and I couldnít really warm up.† It was 70 degrees F in the room, but I felt cold, almost shivering.† For a while I thought I might be coming down with something.† I bundled up in my light jacket (the warmest thing I brought), but I just kept feeling cold, although it got a bit better.† I slowly warmed up, and by the time we started actually birding, somewhat later, I felt normal and took off my jacket.


I did computer stuff and had a nice ham and cheese sandwich for my brekkie (what else?† Again tomorrow, too, which will use up the last of the ham).† I headed out at about 9:15, to meet local birder Chris at the Chatswood railway station, which is about a 15 minute train ride north of here.†


The trip went smoothly, and Chris picked me up on schedule.† Our goal for the day was to see Powerful Owl, which nests in the rainforest behind his house.† He literally lives right on the edge of some remnant rainforest.† After a cup of excellent coffee, we set out to see what we could see in the rainforest.† It was a pretty rugged hike for this old rambler, but I did pretty well, I must say.† We went down quite a bit, into a gully with a creek at the bottom, and then made our way up the creek.† At one point we had to cross the creek on a moss covered log, but I made it without a mishap, although I didnít feel completely comfortable.† Fortunately, we made a loop, so I didnít have to cross that log again on the way back.


Powerful Owls tend to roost for the day close to water, so we made our way up the creek, through somewhat rough terrain.† Nothing on the way up, so we started back down the creek.† Eventually, Chris spotted the two youngsters, perched in a tree.† The female was nearby, but we didnít see the male.† I got some pictures of the young owls; you can see them in Photos02.† It was very dim in the forest, so I had to use the flash, and the red-eye was terrible.† I have fixed the eyes as best I could, but they still look very unnatural in the photos.† In reality, the owls have quite yellow eyes, with large dark pupils, and I have tried to approximate that with my photo work, but they are too bright.† The young owls are still quite downy on their breasts, and they will continue to be fed by the adults for several more months.† It was really exciting to see and actually photograph owls in Australia.† This is the first time I have actually seen and been able to identify any owl over here, so this was a life list bird, and one I had had very little expectation of seeing.† A huge thank you to Chris for showing them to me.


After that excitement ( I know, it doesnít sound very exciting to non-birders, but seeing Powerful Owls the first time is a fairly big deal to this old rambler), we continued down the creek.† We got good looks at a Spotted Pardalote and later at a couple of Brown Gerygones.† Both of those were good ones to see with a local birder, because neither one of them stayed in one place very long, and they are both basically LBJís Ė Little Brown Jobs.† We also got a couple of good looks at White-browed Scrub-wrens, which I had seen the other day at the Royal National Park


We also had a close encounter with an Australian Brush-turkey, a mound builder that is common along the east coast, but I wonít see once I go inland.†† I have included a couple of pictures in Photos02, but they arenít very good.† Iíll try for better ones in the next several days, while I am in the right territory for them. †The male scratches up a mound of dirt and leaves, and a female mates with him and lays her eggs.† The male then tends the mound, scraping away at it to maintain the correct temperature at all times; then he raises the chicks when they hatch.† The decaying plant matter of the mound produces heat, which is what incubates the eggs.† Birds sure are interesting in their diversity.† Yíall donít know what youíre missing.


We looked for a couple of other species, including Red-whiskered Bulbul, but didnít find one.† Once we got back up to Chrisís street, we searched some trees for roosting Tawny Frogmouths.† They are night birds who roost in the daytime, and Chris knew that one or more of them roosted just a few doors down from his house.† We searched the trees, and Chris spotted one, fairly low, and in a good location to get some pictures.† I took a lot of pictures, and my best ones are in Photos02.† The light was very poor, so the pictures donít have much contrast.† I had to really process them a lot, so they are not at all good photographically, but I think you can get the idea of the bird.† They really blend in well with the trees they roost in, and it is hard to spot them.† I have seen them twice before, but only when some Aussie birder showed them to me, knowing the area they roosted in.† It was really fantastic to see (and photograph, no matter how poor the quality) both Powerful Owl and Tawny Frogmouth in the same day.


To top off a really great birding day, Chris made us some lunch, and he also drew me some maps and gave me tips about a place I plan to visit in a couple of weeks, Lake Cargelligo.† He was there a few weeks ago, so he could give me some pretty up-to-date information.


I caught a train from Chatswood station back to the city, and stopped at the Woolies (thatís Woolworths Ė one of the major supermarket chains over here) at the Town Hall station and found that they had some very nice prepared meals, which Coles had not had (or, at least, I didnít find them in two visits).† I got a very nice-looking pepper steak with potatoes, mushrooms, and red pepper (capsicum to the Aussies) meal, and I also got a pack of prepared carrots and broccoli, ready to eat.† I got two nice little tomatoes, too.† Still no cooked chicken breast, though, like I used so much of in Britain.† Too bad Ė good lean protein is so hard to find when you are traveling.


So, back at my humble room (usually I refer to my accommodations as ďmy lonely roomĒ, but I donít feel lonely today, partly because I had so many comments on Facebook, to my postings), I worked on my pictures for today, and caught up on other internet stuff.† In addition to my other computer problems, I had been trying to get in touch via email with the local birder who is supposed to take me out on Monday.† My emails to him kept coming back as undeliverable, no such person, so I had put up a post on my birding mailing list this morning, asking for help in contacting him.† I got a reply that gave me his phone number, and I eventually phoned him, when my emails kept coming back.† We are all set for Monday morning at 7.† It ought to be a really great day of birding, as he is an outstanding birder and knows where all the birds in his area are.† We will be joined by a woman who is a fairly new birder, evidently, and that is good, too, because the more eyes there are, the more you see.


Tomorrow I need to pick up my rental car, then make my way back here to my hotel, to get all my stuff, and then I will head out of town.† It is a little complicated, because the Sydney Harbour Bridge is closed tomorrow morning for some kind of special event (Breakfast on the Bridge is what I was told, but I donít know what that means).† So, I can still get out of town to the north, but the route involves the tunnel under the harbour, and it sounds like it is going to be a little tricky to get to it from my hotel, but I guess I will find my way eventually.† I wonder how much traffic the tunnel will have, with the bridge closed (they are alternate routes), but Sunday morning shouldnít be bad, I wouldnít think.† It is less than an hour to my destination, Windsor, so it really should be just fine.† They have a parking garage here at the hotel, so I should be able to park there and load my car, before heading out.† I think I can walk to where I pick up the car, but if not, I will take a cab.


So, I have had my drinkies, and I have put up Photos02, so now I will get this up on the website and heat up my pepper steak dinner, with assorted veggies on the side.† What an incredible life it is.