Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gluepot Report #1

Some years ago, the kids organised a holiday for Glen and I in South Australia. Part of the deal was a day of birdwatching at Gluepot Reserve, the Birds Australia property about 60km north of Waikerie. I think the girls got the idea from reading one of my bird magazines.

I was aware of Gluepot and had been following reports of its progress, bird sightings, etc, for some time. We drove around some of the tracks that day, visited a hide but we didn't see a lot of birds. The others in the car were not as bird focused as me, so they were being very polite and allowing me to indulge my passion.

On the way out that day, a pair of multi-coloured parrots took off from the side of the track and flashed their brilliant blue underwings as they wheeled off into the scrub. I wasn't game to ask Nick to stop so I could follow. It'd been a long day - for the others.

The image of those birds were burned clearly on my brain and a quick look in the field guide as we continued to bounce along the track on our way home, suggested that they were Mulga Parrots. I think that is the exact moment I began to plan my return visit.

Last fortnight I did just that.

Birds Australia were conducting a photography course at Gluepot in April and that was the perfect opportunity to get back there. I picked the dates to suit and enrolled. I took some time off from the golf course and on Tuesday 13th April I headed north west with the ute loaded with camping gear, food, camera and field guide. I think that others using the highway that day were wondering, "Why is that driver smiling so widely?"

Mulga Parrot - the bird that got me back to Gluepot.

The next few blog postings will outline some of my experiences on the trip.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Heyfield Birdwatchers April 2010

G'day All,
Yep, still alive here at Heyfield. I've been struggling a little with the motivation and lack of material to do some blogging, but here we are.

Fourteen HBW's headed for the foothills just north of Briagolong today. The few skitty showers that raced through didn't deter the enthusiasm of the group one little bit and we drove up the windy Freestone Road to the Froam Picnic Ground for our first stop. The creekside track here is narrow and somewhat overgrown in places, so we split into two groups. One group took the track and the others walked up the road. We crossed paths again about halfway.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were probably the dominant species on this walk, but Sitellas, Eastern Yellow Robins, White-browed Scrubwrens and Mistletoe Birds, among a few others were also ticked.

The showery weather meant the cameras and binoculars went under the coats fairly often and the overgrown track forced us to keep our eyes at ground level a bit. The Field Naturalists and Botanists in the group didn't seem to mind and were quickly finding plenty of plants and fungi to try and identify.

We drove up to McKinnons point next, and it was during the coffee break that one of the resident Peregrine Falcons streaked by and landed very high up on the cliff face. As luck had it, Ron had his telescope in his vehicle and we all took turns for some great views of this symbol of speed and fearlessness.

We crossed the creek and slowly ambled up 'Green Gully', where we were serenaded quite regularly by several family groups of the beautiful Golden Whistler.

The Freestone Waltz

Back at the cars we had lunch with some Red-browed Finches, Blue Wrens, White-browed Scrubwrens and Eastern Yellow Robins - always welcome lunch guests in my book! We were probably being perused by the Peregrine too, as it hadn't moved from its high rocky perch.

Ron took us on a detour to Three Bridges on the way home. A very beautiful walk along the track didn't produce many different birds until Marg spied a couple of dark shapes high in a tree.

Marg's Boobooks

After a bit more slipping and sliding on the now wet bush tracks, we emerged at Stockdale and headed for the coffee shop in Briag. While some dashed home to get the last of the footy on TV, the rest of us enjoyed a hot cuppa and frequent bragging of our sightings.

Wonderful - roll on May 9th I say!