Saturday, October 23, 2010


Griffith, New South Wales


Before I get into today’s exciting adventures, there are a couple of things I wanted to mention about yesterday.


First, one of my pictures, taken through the windshield, is of an Emu with his five young ones.  The male tends the nest and raises the youngsters by himself, while the female is out looking for another male.  Five seems like a large bunch of young ones to me; I don’t think I have ever seen that many before.


The other thing I wanted to mention is that I added another species to my trip list in my room last night.  For days I have been plagued by a species of bird that calls incessantly from the tops of trees, and while it flies between trees.  There is a picture from several days ago that is labeled Mystery Bird.  It has always been hard to get a good look at it, as it is always in the top of a tree, and I’m looking up, with the sky as a background.  From reading the description of the song and the behavior, I suspected it was a Rufous Songlark, but the pictures in my field guide are not very good, if so.  I call this bird a “Witchy Bird” because his call sounds like “witchy witchy bird” to me.  The call is so distinctive that I finally got the bright idea to look up the call of the Rufous Songlark on Google, and sure enough, that is my Witchy Bird.  So, I added it to my trip list.  The pictures in both of my field guides are very misleading, I think.


In Photos10, there is a picture of a female (in the lower left) and a male Magpie-lark.  They are extremely common, but also fly away whenever I approach, so this is my first picture of them.  If you look closely, you can see that the male and female have different patterns.  They have at least two common names that people call them – Mudlark and Peewee.  You hear one of those names from birders more than you hear the official name of Magpie-lark.


Another picture from yesterday, in Photos10, is one of three cormorant species sitting in a tree.  From the left, there is a Great Cormorant, a Little Black Cormorant, and a Little Pied Cormorant.  I thought it was interesting to catch all three of them in one shot.


I slept well again last night.  Someday I’m going to have to figure out why I sleep so much better when I travel than I do at home.  I was up at 6:30 again, and on the road by 8:45.  That sounds pretty leisurely, and I guess it is, but I Instant Messaged with Christina for half an hour or so, catching up with things at home.  This was a pack ‘em up, load ‘em up day, too – everything had to be packed and loaded in the car.  I had the last two of my Woolie’s chicken pies for my brekkie, along with my last mandarin orange.  I also made myself a ham and cheese sandwich for my lunch.


My first stop was only a few miles out of town, at Yelkin State Forest.  My Sydney bird buddy, Chris, had suggested stopping there to look for Red-capped Robin.  I stopped several times and walked around.  I did indeed see two male Red-capped Robins for my trip list, as well as a few other good birds.  I had a good look at a Southern Whiteface and a good look at a White-winged Triller.  Both were already on my list, but I enjoy seeing birds, even if they are already on my list, and both of these were better views than I had had before.  I also picked up a second trip list bird, White-browed Babbler.  There was a little group of them, and I had great looks at them.


I haven’t written about the flies, I don’t think.  Each day there seem to be more of them, and they are annoying, but these ones don’t bite, anyway.  I have seen a few mosquitoes, and today I noticed my first two bites, although neither one itched for long.  It will be interesting to see how bad the flies and mozzies are on the rest of the trip.


It was overcast today, threatening rain all day long.  That kept it cool, in the low 70’s, which was great for me.  As I approached Griffith, my destination for the day, I took a side trip into the Cocoparra National Park.  I had a map that I had printed out at home, and it wasn’t a very far detour.  There are supposed to be good birds there, and I saw some, but only one new one for my trip list – Ringneck, which is a type of parrot.  I also got better looks at Blue Bonnets (another parrot) than I had had before.   I had lunch in a picnic area and had a visitor, a very confiding Grey Butcherbird.  I got a picture, which is one of my favorites so far of the trip.


By the time I finished my lunch a few drops of rain were starting to fall.  I was on an unpaved road, and unpaved roads and rain don’t go well together, so I moved along.  There were a couple of other sites I wanted to stop at, to look for some good birds that supposedly could be seen there.  The road was a lot worse than the other unpaved roads I have been on, with some little creek crossings and some deeply rutted places.  I was glad to have my 4WD vehicle – I wouldn’t have wanted to do it in a little conventional car.  At one point, a car coming the other way was stopped in the road, and as I approached, the guy moved it.  I stopped to talk to him and the woman he was with, asking about the road ahead, since they had come that way.  He gave me a lot of good info, making me feel confident that I would be fine, even if it started raining hard.


I found my way to the two places I wanted to bird, but as I got there, the rain started in earnest.  I not only didn’t want to get wet, the birds aren’t very active when it is raining, so I headed on into Griffith to my motel.


I’m writing this there, having processed my pictures and made the Photos10 album.  I was supposed to have wi fi here, but their system is down, while they wait for a replacement modem.  How annoying.  No phone in my room, either, so I’m out of touch again.  Damn.  The only good news is that Griffith is big enough that they have a McDonalds, so I will go on down there and try to upload this and Photos10, and check my email.  I sure would rather have access from my room, but it is not to be tonight.


So, that is the story for today.  Tomorrow I move along again, to Swan Hill, which is just over the border into the next state, Victoria.  I have a cabin in a trailer park reserved, and I can supposedly purchase internet access, although it is expensive.  I’m planning to be there for two nights, so I can bird on Monday at a couple of places near there.


Signing off now, heading for Mickey D’s.