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Monday, October 16, 2006 Ė 8 PM

Geraldton again


Iím back at Greengables Lodge.  Iíll see if I can write up today and get it up on the website.  I have some pictures I like from today, too, but it is going to be tough to get them all processed and put up onto the website.  The next couple of days are going to probably be difficult for internet access, too, so it might be several days before I can get the pictures up.  Pictures take a long time to upload on a dial up connection, and I donít like to tie up the phone line of a B&B where I am staying that long.  It is faster to post a Ramblings, so I will try to get that up tonight, and the pictures might have to wait.


I did a lot of driving today (maybe about 250 miles Ė doesnít sound like so much, but I stopped a lot of places, too, and 250 miles is longer than my average day of driving on this trip Ė by design).  I got on the road a little after 8, after eating in my studio unit at the Kalbarri Seafront Villas and making my lunch.   Breakfast and lunch were both roast beef and cheese sandwiches, but lunch had potato chips and cookies, too.  Very good roast beef, and the bread was from the Kalbarri Hot Bread Bakery and was great also.  I love sandwiches.  And cheese.


So, I stopped at a couple of other viewpoints of the Murchison River Gorge, upstream a little from the ones from yesterday.  These had short paved roads to them, not the long, corrugated gravel roads of the day before.  All in all, I would have skipped the hour of bone-rattling roads and just visited the two I saw today, if I had known what I know now, but this way, I did it all, and that appeals to me, too.  It was cooler this morning Ė I was earlier, and there were some clouds, too.  Nice views of the river, but the gorge isnít much by American standards.  What a terrible thing to say, isnít it?  The views are a local highlight, and I enjoyed them.


At one of the viewpoints, I spotted three feral goats across the river, at a distance of 2 or 3 hundred yards.  My amazing camera actually gave me a picture in which you can recognize the three goats.  It was hand-held at 12X.  I didnít even have my tele-extender on, nor was it on the tripod.  The picture isnít great or anything.  It just amazes me that I could recognize the goats at all at that distance.


After that, I headed to the northernmost place I will visit in Western Australia, the Murchison River crossing on the main highway north along the coast.  I had read that this was a good place for birds, and indeed it was.  As I pulled in, a small, very blue bird flashed across the road and landed in a bush.  I got the binoculars (bins, as the Aussies would say) on it, and it was a male Splendid Fairy-wren; splendid by name, and splendid to view.  A lifer for me.


I hopped out of the car with my camera and bins, and got some more views of him, and there were also a couple of female or juvenile Fairy-wrens around that I got good looks at, too.  They are not nearly as colorful.  The male disappeared, but in a few minutes, I thought I saw him again.  But, no, this one had red on its back!  Quick, look closely and memorize the colors, as there are two species it could be -  Variegated Fairy-wren or Blue-breasted Fairy-wren.  When he flew away, I opened the field guide, and he was a Blue-breasted Fairy-wren Ė great, because it has a much smaller range and is harder to see.  Another lifer.


After all that excitement, I broke out the camera and spent quite a while trying to get some pictures.  I got some very nice pictures of one of the females, but the male Splendid Fairy-wren was much flightier than the female, and my pictures of him arenít as good.  I didnít see the Blue-breasted one again.  Still, it was fun getting the pictures, and Iím glad to have them.  You all can see them when I finally get them up on the website, whenever that is.


I saw some other nice birds at that location, too.  A Mistletoebird and a male Red-capped Robin were highlights.  I got a couple of pictures of the robin, but they are less than ideal, as he flitted around a lot and I could never get very close.  I first heard, then saw, a small flock of Corellas, too, but at a long distance.  There are three species of Corellas in Western Australia, and they look very similar, unless you can get a close look at their heads.  Based on the location, though, I decided they must be Little Corellas, so I added them to my trip list.  I had my lunch at that location, too.  It was very pretty, and the temperature was very nice, if you stayed out of the sun.  I had driven about 10 miles out of my way to go there, but it was very well worth it, both for the birds and for the beauty of the spot.


When I finally tore myself away from there, I headed south, heading back to Greengables Lodge B&B again.  I stopped at a place called Horrocks, on the ocean, and it was the most beautiful beach I have seen yet in Western Australia.  I didnít see any interesting birds there, but I sure enjoyed the scenery.  After that I checked out some of the beach areas around Geraldton.  Again, no interesting birds, but I did see a couple of guys kite-surfing, and I got some good pictures of them launching themselves and surfing around the bay, pulled by their giant kites.


I got to my B&B about 4:30 and had a beer or two while I started processing my pictures from the day, and then started writing this.  My writing was interrupted by dinner, which was very good again.  Tonight there was another couple here, celebrating their 30th anniversary, and Chris and Henryís son and his fiancťe, too, so it was a regular dinner party.  I enjoyed the conversation enough that it cut into my writing time, making it just about impossible that I will get my pictures up tonight.  Iíll still try to post this, though.


So, that was my exciting Monday.  Tomorrow I head east, out into the wilderness.  I am booked to stay at a cattle and sheep station (ranch) for two nights, and that ought to be interesting.  There are some great birds out there, and it will be very interesting to see if I can manage to see any of them.  This will be the most ďdifferentĒ of the places I visit on this trip, I think, and I am looking forward to seeing what the interior of Western Australia looks like.  Seeing and staying on a working outback station ought to be interesting, too.


Signing off for now,


Barry Downunder, getting ready to head east