October 26, 2010
Iím not going to do a Photos tonight, as I didnít take any very interesting pictures today, so I have plenty of time to write this Ramblings, and maybe Iíll ramble a little.
I didnít sleep all that well last night.† The bed there was way too firm for me, but my nose was also bad.† I wonít go into my nose problems, but they are a key part of my sleeping issues.† I have to breathe through my nose when I use my CPAP machine, and I need to use my CPAP machine because of my sleep apnea.† So, when I have nose problems (congestion), I sleep less well.† That is actually the biggest difference between sleeping at home and sleeping on the road.† I generally have much worse nose problems at home.† That is what I have been trying to figure out for the last five years.† Last night was more like home, nose-wise, but still better than at home.
So, I ended up getting up a little later this morning, at about 6:30, as I was awake more during the night and slept more lightly.† I got involved in some internet stuff, and time flew by.† I had posted some questions on my Aussie birding mailing list, and I exchanged several emails with a very helpful Melbourne birder.† He ended up sending me mp3 files of the calls of several of the birds I would really like to see in this area.† I will put them on my mp3 player, and I can actually play them through the car radio, theoretically, with an FM adaptor that I brought with me.† In addition to maybe realizing when a bird of interest is in the area, some birds respond to their own calls and will come to investigate, and I might even try that with one or two of the species, playing their calls through the car radio speakers.
Anyway, the bottom line was that it was almost ten oíclock by the time I hit the road this morning.† I had to shower, make my brekkie, make my lunch, and pack and load, in addition to my internet things.
My first stop was at a place called Lake Tyrell.† There were a couple of birds I was supposed to look for there, and I looked, but there were almost no birds at all around.† I did see some White-winged Fairy-wrens, which are great birds, but I had counted them yesterday, so they didnít help today.
Next I visited a place called the Bronzewing Reserve.† Like the Goschen Reserve yesterday, there was no signage at all to indicate that it was a reserve, so I needed the very explicit directions I had gotten.† I first turned on the wrong unmarked track, but discovered my error and found the right unmarked track.† I went right where I was told to go, across the railroad tracks and past the dam.† After about 100 yards, the track got quite rutted, though, and the ruts were filled with water and mud.† I was only supposed to go another quarter of a mile, though, so I parked there and walked the rest of the way.† I first ate my lunch, though, and watched and listened for birds.
There are supposed to be some very special birds at that reserve, but I saw bumpkis.† One raven, in the 90 minutes I was there Ė absolutely not another bird.† Talk about dead.† It was the middle of the day, and I expect that was the biggest problem.† It was in the low 80ís by then, so I was warm, especially when I was in the sun.† The flies were terrible, too.† I basically had to continually wave my hand in front of my face, to keep them out of my eyes.† I inhaled my first fly of the trip there, too.† I managed to cough it up and spit it out, anyway.† There will be more, Iím sure.† I would rather have the flies than mosquitoes, although you can spray yourself for mozzies, and there doesnít seem to be a spray that will repel flies.† I have been to places over here where the flies are big and they draw blood when they bite you, but these are small flies and donít seem to actually hurt you.† I donít like them in my mouth or eyes, though, and they seem to go for the moisture.
So, it was about 2 oíclock when I gave up on Bronzewing Reserve.† I decided to check into my motel and then make one more foray out to look for birds.† I did check in, and I put my fridge stuff into the little fridge.† My homemade ice cooler, made from a Diet Coke 12-pack box, worked great.† I had plenty of ice left for my drinkies, too, which I put into the little freezer compartment of the little fridge.†† At my request, they had put a microwave into my room for me, so I can heat my prepared dinners or a can of soup.
After putting the cold stuff in the fridge, I headed up the road to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.† I visited this area in 2004, in the middle of the long drought, and I was interested to see what it looks like now, after a wet year, finally.† Well, it actually looks pretty much the same.† It still looks pretty brown to me, although, I guess there is more grass and the brush may be a little greener.† There are wildflowers, too, and there may not have been in 2004, I donít really remember.† The big difference is that there is water in the Hattah lakes this year.† They were mostly or entirely dry in 2004, and probably ever since then.† Now they are filled to overflowing.† It was interesting to see the lakes in the middle of what seemed like pretty dry country to me.
I was hoping to see one or more of the Mallee parrots there.† ďMalleeĒ is the name of a particular scrubby tree that characterizes this area, and they call the whole area ďThe MalleeĒ.† But, like at Bronzewing, there was damn little around.† A bit more than at Bronzewing, but nothing new for me, and nothing to take any pictures of, unless a shot I took of a White-winged Chough comes out, which I doubt.
It had been about a 30 minute drive up to Hattah, and I gave up and threw in the towel for the day at about 4, and headed ďhomeĒ.† No new trip birds today, my first day of being blanked.† I needed to stop at the grocery store in town, to get sandwich fillings for breakfasts and lunches for the next couple of days, and then I would just hunker down in my room and think about the day.
So, I was tooling down the highway at the speed limit of 110 Km per hour (66 MPH), reviewing the paltry number of birds I had seen today.† I got the count up to about 17, which is a very low number, considering I had visited three different places and had spent at least 4 hours just looking for birds.† I decided that I wasnít really ďfrustratedĒ, but I was ďdiscouragedĒ, and I was thinking about the difference.
Then, a bird flew across the road in front of me and landed in a tree.† I could see it was a parrot type bird, and there were others in the tree as well.† I hit the brakes and turned around and went back.† I approached cautiously, and got binocular views through the windshield. †I found that they were Regent Parrots, a mostly yellow parrot, with black wings with some red on the wings.† Beautiful birds.† And trip list birds, which made them all the more beautiful to my eyes.† Today wasnít the day I was going to get skunked after all.† Saved at the last minute.† Suddenly I wasnít discouraged or frustrated.† It had been a good day after all.† I had visited several well known birding sites, and if I came up blank there, well, it wasnít my fault.† All I can do it put myself where the birds live, and after that, it is up to the gods of birding.† The weather was great, if a little warm;† no car problems;† I wasnít hungry or thirsty;† I didnít get lost;† I wasnít at work;† what more could anyone ask?
I stopped at the little ďsupermarketĒ here in town and got some roast beef, some ham, some potato chips, and some jam tarts, and then I came here and moved into my new little home away from home.† They have wi fi here, but it is expensive.† I sprang for the week long plan, as it was 20 bucks for a day and 40 bucks for a week, and I plan to be here for four nights.† I could have used my dial up plan for less money, but that is a pain in the ass and would have been slower, so I went for the wi fi.† Itís only money, you know.
Pretty soon Iíll heat up one of my prepared dinners that I brought from Swan Hill, where they had a real supermarket.† Maybe Iíll watch some TV, or maybe Iíll start my next book.† Iíll have a couple of hours at my disposal.† Come to think of it, I need to load those mp3ís of bird calls onto my mp3 player and I need to make more plans for tomorrow, so maybe I donít have so much time on my hands after all.†
My tentative plan for tomorrow is to be out of here as early as I can be, and go back up to Hattah and try for a couple of special birds that would be lifers for me.† Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren.† They are both very tough ones to get, but I have a very specific site to try for them at, and I want to give it a shot.† There are a lot of other birds I could see at the same location, or in other parts of Hattah, so it wonít just be about those two species, but those are the targets.† It is unlikely I will see either one, but worth looking for, I think.† After all, that is what I am here for, theoretically.† Iím not sure what I will do for the rest of the day, since the mallee seems so dead in the middle of the day.† There are some places I could drive to, and I guess I need to look at that tonight, too.
Iím about at the half way point of the trip now.† I need to figure out where and when Iím going to do a load of laundry.† I have now seen 207 different species of birds on the trip, of which 6 are lifers.† My goals are something like 250 total and 20 or 25 lifers, so there are still a lot of them to find.† It gets increasingly tough to add to the list, though.
I have been counting a lot on a guide I have hired for this Saturday afternoon and Sunday, but I see that now they are predicting rain for that area on Friday and Saturday.† Iíve been hoping I could get half a dozen or more lifers in those two days, and maybe 10 or 15 trip birds.† If it rains very much, it could affect our plans, so Iím a bit concerned about that.† Time will tell, but it could be a setback to my numbers if that trip gets rained out.† Along with all the breathless excitement of the trip, I have drama and suspense as well.
Life rolls onÖ