Monday, October 31, 2011

Gluepot Diary #4

Hart Lagoon – Waikerie

G’day All,
After getting a good night’s sleep without the wind, we opted to spend part of the day hunting up supplies for the camp at Gluepot where there is no fuel, power, water, supermarkets and no fires allowed. But first we took the track beside the Hart Lagoon, directly across the road from the caravan park. Like the wetlands at Banrock Station, Hart Lagoon was different to the last time I saw it – it had water too.

The water birds were in abundance – stilts, dotterels, grebes, ducks, herons, egrets, spoonbills, terns and gulls were all ticked pretty readily. The trees and scrub beside the track contained habitat for wrens, parrots, treecreepers, woodswallows,  honeyeaters, etc and a small squadron of raptors seemed to be ever constant.

A couple of small settling ponds not 100m from camp were ideal for some camera subjects…

Gluepot tomorrow – I promise.


… to be continued.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gluepot Diary #3

Neds becomes Banrock

On Monday morning, Jo and I met up in Mildura and headed west along the Sturt Highway. Our plan was to turn off about halfway to Renmark and check out Ned’s Corner for a few hours. A large ‘road closed due to flooding’ sign put an end to that plan. After a quick roadside discussion we pressed on and called in to Banrock Station for a late lunch.

On the last two occasions that I’ve visited the wetlands here they were mostly dry but we all know what has happened since. On the track down the escarpment we were welcomed by one of the local reptiles. Since it doesn’t have feathers I’m not too sure of its identity but I’m going for a Central Bearded Dragon.

It was nice to see quite a large colony of Black-tailed Native Hens on the edge of the first lagoon. I think they are only very occasional visitors to Gippsland.

We were warned of some recent sightings of large snakes in the area and we were able to confirm those sightings as a LARGE brown one slipped off into the scrub. I was being pretty cautious as I worked my way closer to a nearby tree that was the lookout perch for a Sacred Kingfisher.

Once on to the board walk, the cacophony of reed warbler calls and the mournful whistle of the Little Grassbird took over. The reed beds were very popular with theses little birds. We spent some time scanning the edges of the reeds for a glimpse of the grassbird and Jo suddenly spotted another skulking little bird of the reeds, a Baillon’s Crake. It’s always been a challenge for me to get a decent picture of a Baillons. The challenge remains!

That afternoon, the boardwalk was pretty well deserted, so a local Gould’s Monitor decided to use it for ready access to his next port of call. Once he sensed us he took to the water very readily and swam to a nearby tree to wait for us to pass.

Our camp for the night was the Waikerie Caravan Park where we caught up with Alwyn shortly after we pulled in. It was cuppa and a chat time while the camera and laptop batteries were on their chargers.  

… to be continued.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gluepot Diary #2

Hot and Windy
After arriving at Lake Mournpall in the Hattah-Kulkyne NP on Saturday, a strong wind got up and ruined birdwatching and made camping uncomfortable too. It blew much of the night but had eased considerably by dawn – time to go walking.

I chose a walk that would take in a variety of habitat to give me a good chance of spotting a representative of local species. The first part of the 9km track took me into the typical mallee scrub country and the classic Eastern Ringneck Parrot often sprung up from feeding on the ground where they are extremely well camouflaged and they almost always saw me before I saw them.


The Yellow Rosella is confined to a small range that takes in the large Red Gums beside the Murray River. This bird is basically a yellow form of the Crimson Rosella. It has the same blue cheek patch, blue wings and black mottling on the back, but the head and body are yellow rather than crimson. There was a nesting pair near my tent.

I kept hearing a rapid machine-gun like call similar to one I’m familiar with, the Lewin’s Honeyeater. I finally pinned down the culprit – the Singing Honeyeater. The one I got the best picture of is a young adult I think and hadn’t yet ‘earned his stripes’.


The middle section of this walk took me down by the lake system where the big Red Gums were dominant. I scanned the hollows regularly hoping for perhaps a Regent Parrot – probably not in this tree but …


It got pretty hot by mid morning and the wind was returning. I headed back to camp and had my encounter with the Blue-faced Honeyeater which is just about on the limit of its range. I was meeting up with Jo in Mildura the next day so decided to head north and find a sheltered park for the night.


… to be continued.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gluepot Diary #1

G’day Everyone,
Just back from my pilgrimage – Gluepot.
I was away for about a fortnight and had a great time. As I process the images I will upload an occasional blog to give some idea of the experience. This is the first one.

Big Sky Country
I got to Bendigo on day one and have always enjoyed the experience just north of there, of looking at the horizon. Not much horizon in most of Gippsland.

Lake Tyrrell just out of Sea Lake is always worth a look to see the expanse of Victoria’s largest salt pan. This year there was water, albeit a bit pink!

The little grain towns are fascinating places to a Gippslander. Their skyline is dominated by monstrous grain silos and huge mounds of something – grain I suspect – covered with plastic? At Nullawil a grain train was loading at the silo – 55 trucks and 5 engines!

Breakfast With The Birds
I pulled in to the camp site in Hattah Kulkyne NP late in the afternoon and managed a short walk before dark. I rose early next morning and headed off on a long walk through part of the park – some more details later. When I got back to camp about mid morning I prepared ‘brunch’ and sat among the campground birds with my cuppa.

I started doing the dishes and a Blue-faced Honeyeater flew in to help. What a delight!


…To be continued.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Tanks Danny"

G’day Readers,
I hope the nature lovers that sometimes pop in here to see what’s been happening in the district will forgive me this entry, but this is the conclusion of what has been driving Glen and me crazy for the past few weeks. We discovered a crack in our concrete water tank! The leak was big enough to require us to bail out by bucket about 600L a day, (and night), of our precious drinking water from a sink hole I’d dug under the crack. Time to call in the experts.

It took me a few days of hard graft to remove years of rampant Wonga Vine and sundry ferns and trellis from around the tank and then I called D&D Moulton Tanks of Maffra.

Danny arrived with his crew right on the appointed time at 830am and got stuck in right away. A new small tank was to be installed on the shed/computer room, some water pumped from the concrete tank into the new tank, empty the concrete tank and install a liner. Of course the concrete tank was full.

They got the pump going straight away and I prepared some drains for the ensuing flood.

The new tank went in quickly and was connected to the shed and 5000L of water transferred. Pumping out the concrete tank continued until the level was low enough for Troy to get inside and stir up the years of sediment that inevitably collects from off the roof at each rain event. Delicious!


Frogs and golf balls were discovered in the sludge.

An underlay material was placed on the bottom and the liner was dropped in, unfolded and pinned into place.

The old roof went back on temporarily, tools collected – job done! Wonderful work and all finished before 3pm.

A little rain in the next few days would suit nicely now. And, we don’t have to be around 24hrs to bail out! I’d better go, there’s a nice little job waiting – FILL IN THE SINK HOLE – YEAH!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

JSLake with Latrobe Field Nats

Still alive here at Heyfield.

Had a beaut day with the Latrobe Valley Field Nats/bird group yesterday. I caught up with them just out of Woodside and while I waited for their arrival I was entertained in the nearby Mullundung Forest by a charming Eastern Yellow Robin. Always a delight to chase one of these…

We headed into Jack Smith Lake where there was some water for a change! The glasswort species were in beautiful condition, richly green and juicy – they didn’t crackle underfoot.

Coots, Swans and several duck species occupied the main lake. A pair of Hoary-headed Grebes wouldn’t stay on the surface long enough for a decent photograph. On the nearby mudflats the ever reliable Red-capped Plovers were dashing about and some sightings of Red-necked Stints were ticked too. Crested Terns, Silver Gulls and an occasional Pacific Gull would coast in for a rest on the posts in the middle.

A few of us managed to glimpse briefly a Striated Field Wren as it dashed for cover – another bird I’ve yet to get a decent picture of.

On the walk beside the private property and around to the open area we scored Blue-winged Parrots, White-fronted Chats, Common Skylarks and a ? Quail – Stubble we think.

July last year.

August '09

Silvereyes, Brown Thornbills, New Holland Honeyeaters and others would interrupt lunch when they suddenly appeared in the nearby scrub.

After a walk to the beach we convoyed down to the Won Wron State Forest for some plant ticks that included Thick-lipped and Southern Spider Orchids, Brown Beaks, Wax Lips, Running Postman etc, and some of the fattest brightest Common Correas we’d seen.


We said our goodbyes and wended our various ways home, tired and replete – well I was anyway!