Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Stockton (near Newcastle)


I slept well again last night, despite the very firm bed.  The bed hurt my back and I’m taking ibuprofen today, but it didn’t stop me from sleeping well.  I went to bed at 10, fell immediately asleep, and got up at 5:45, only getting up once to pee, which is outstanding.  I know, I know – I realize that none of you out there care or need to know that stuff, but remember that these Ramblings have the secondary purpose of forming a record of the trip for myself and my journal.  My sleep issues are a big deal for me, so recording notes about my sleep is valuable to me.  You can just cruise on over those paragraphs.


I spent over an hour, before breakfast, updating my lists.  That means marking my field guide, marking a paper copy of my spreadsheet, and correlating those to my little notebook in which I actually record my sightings.  I found a couple of mistakes I had made, and updated my official totals accordingly.


For my brekkie, I had one of the chicken pies I had gotten at Woollies yesterday, a mandarin orange, and half of one of my smoked chicken breasts.  Yum.  An excellent repast for this old rambler.  I also made a nice thick roast beef and cheese sandwich for my lunch, to have with potato chips, diet coke, and a Woolworths caramel slice.


After brekkie, I went on over to the office and checked email and did other internet stuff.  I didn’t mention here that when I went over last night to upload my Ramblings from yesterday, I had a very hard time connecting.   I think that something on my computer, probably some “security” setting, is keeping Internet Explorer from being redirected to the appropriate web page for me to log in with my username and password that they provide me with each time.  I suspect that is also why I couldn’t connect at McDonalds in Sydney.  In this case, I deduced the URL they were redirecting me to, and was able to connect directly to that page, so I could log in.  That will work here, but I am likely to have problems on other networks, if I don’t figure out what is happening.  This computer stuff is incredibly complicated and getting more so all the time.


So, I finally got off for my day of birding about 9:30 or so.  I stopped at the Stockton end of the Stockton bridge, where I had seen several species last night. (Did I list them already?  They included Pied Oystercatcher, Eastern Curlew, Red-capped Plover, and the excellent Brown Honeyeater.  This will be my last place to see the Brown Honeyeater, I think, and this is the southern end of its range, I believe.)  So, this morning I added White-cheeked Honeyeater, which is another one that I won’t see after I leave here, and I got Mangrove Gerygone, which I hadn’t expected to see at all.  I also picked up Pied Cormorant, to complete the four cormorants I expected to see in New South Wales.  So, that little area, which is near where I am staying, has turned out to be very productive.


After that, I visited a place called Ash Island, which was very disappointing.  I had been warned about that, and I knew also that the best parts of the island were closed due to some big construction project.  After that, I went to the Hunter Wetlands Centre.  It was billed as a great place for birds.  As I pulled in, a tour bus was loading up – at least they were leaving, but if it was a place that tour buses visited, I was a little leery from the start.  The parking lot was full, too, another bad sign, as far as I was concerned.  I wanted to eat my humble lunch there, so I took it along with me.  It cost $8.50 to get in to the place, which I had known in advance, but I thought I would at least check it out.  I looked it over and decided that I could spend my time more profitably elsewhere.  The $8.50 deterred me, too, since all I wanted to do was eat my lunch somewhere.  I spotted Magpie Geese from the balcony of the café, without paying, and that was one of the two species I thought I might see there that I wouldn’t see elsewhere.   I also picked up Great Egret for my trip list.  I will see plenty of those later in the trip, but it went on my trip list today.


So, drove on down to the oceanfront in Newcastle itself, and had my lunch at the Newcastle Baths, which are a couple of swimming pools next to the sea.  I assume they are saltwater pools.  There are rocks there, and I picked up Sooty Oystercatcher, along with some pictures.  After that, I drove down the coast, stopping a lot of places, but I didn’t pick up anything else.   I even had a little walk in a remnant rainforest area, but I had the usual rainforest luck, which means I saw almost nothing.   I did a chance to get a picture of a Bell Miner that posed for me on a branch, but in every shot I took, it moved its head and none came out.


After that, I drove back to the coastal area up by Newcastle city, hoping the changing tide would help, but saw nothing else interesting.  I stopped a couple of other places on the way “home”, but saw nothing else new.


Once here, I processed a batch of pictures, and intend to put up Photos04 in a few minutes, when I finish this.  It isn’t a very inspiring batch of pictures, but there are a few birds and they show some of the places I have been.  There are pictures of my little cabin here at the Stockton Beach Caravan Park, too. 


It is almost 7 o’clock now, and the office closes at 8, so I need to wrap this up and go over there and get online.  I had a beer ($2.75 each when bought in a 6 pack, and it is a cheap beer, bought at an inexpensive liquor store!) and a couple of rum and orange-mango drinks, along with enough nuts to last me until I can heat a can of soup later.


Today I added 6 more species to my trip list, bringing it to 113 now.   I have one more day here in the Newcastle area, and then I head for more remote places.  I will be glad to put the city behind me.  Newcastle is much smaller than Sydney, but it is still a city, and I am looking forward to getting out into rural Australia.


I’ve been here a week now.  Seven nights.