I am writing this a little belatedly, and I hope to catch up over the next few days.


I left home on Wednesday afternoon, September 3, and connected in Los Angeles for the long flight to Brisbane, Queensland.† That flight was about 13 Ĺ hours, and that is long, I am here to tell you.† I survived, though, and even managed to sort of semi-doze for 4 or 5 hours.† Normally I canít sleep on a plane at all, but I did better than usual this time.† They have movies and TV shows on demand, and I watched some things to pass the time.† There were two meals, too.† Very boring, but I wasnít actually uncomfortable on the long trip.† As on my first three trips, I used Frequent Flyer miles to get a Business Class ticket (first class from Seattle to LA), and that made all the difference, of course.† I donít know that I could face a coach trip of that length, at my size and advanced age.


I arrived in Brisbane at just after 6 AM, local time.† My body thought it was 1 PM, with only my 4 or 5 hours of fitful dozing for sleep, but I had the full day to get through.


An Aussie birder by the name of Judith had very kindly offered to pick me up at the airport and take me birding that first day, and she also invited me to stay at their house that first night.† When I get around to putting up my first Photos page, you can see Judith at the airport, with her sign with my name on it.† I took the picture because it was the first and probably last time I would be one of those people at the airport being met by someone with a sign with my name on it.† Thanks, Judith, it was cool.


After a quick stop at Judithís house to unload my stuff and have a quick shower and change of clothes, we headed out to do some birding.† Our first stop was a park where a Powerful Owl roosts during the day.† Judith had seen it on Tuesday, but we werenít able to find it on the Friday.† I had a nice tramp around in the hills for an hour or so, though Ė just what my poor old body needed after the long plane trip.† I had never seen an owl in Australia, and I still havenít.


After that, we got some lunch (a pie and some chips [French Fries] for me) and went up to the Gold Creek Reserve, in the hills above Brisbane.† We got some good birds there, including a lifer for me, Spectacled Monarch.† I got some more exercise there, while slowing Judith down, but managing to get through it.† It felt good to walk, but I am in shockingly bad shape this year, with my Atrial Fibrillation taking away 30% of my heartís pumping ability.† And, I am still old and fat, too, of course.


I was still feeling fine, surprisingly, so we went to a mall so Judith could take care of some banking business, and I found a store where I could buy the SIM card to make my newly-bought cell phone work in Australia, and a pre-paid dial up internet access card as well.


Having taken care of our business, we then hit another birding place, the Minnippi Wetlands, where I picked up a few more birds, and another lifer, the Tawny Grassbird.† At the end of that first very jet-lagged day, I was on 37 species, with two lifers.


I met Judithís 16 year old son, Peter, who is also a birder, with over 600 Australian species on his list (that is a very large number for a teenager).† She went out and got us some delicious Asian noodle takeaway, and we had an early dinner.† Her husband, Gavin, was out of town for the day, and he got home after we had finished our dinner.† I was getting pretty spacey by that time, and I think I got to bed about 7:30.† I thought that was pretty good, considering that I hadnít really had any decent sleep for about †42 hours at that point.† I slept like a log for about 7 hours, waking at 2:30 AM.† I lay in bed quite comfortably for another couple of hours, and got up about 4:30 AM.


I was able to get online, using their internet connection, and I got caught up on my email by the time that Judith got up, which was about 6:30, I think.† After some brekkie, Judith and I headed out to do some more birding.† We stopped a couple of places on the way to the Wynnum Boardwalk at Lytton, where we walked around and saw a lot more birds.† I picked up two more key (lifer) mangrove species there, Mangrove Gerygone and Collared Kingfisher.† (by the way, if you want to see pictures of any of these species I mention, all you have to do is go to Google, click on Images, and enter the species name.† You can see many pictures of any species that way.)


Finally, Judith dropped me and all my luggage off at the car rental place downtown, and I picked up my car and headed off to my next stop.


At that point, I had racked up 68 species, including 4 lifers.† That was a really good start, considering that I hadnít even planned to do any birding that first day, until Judith kindly offered to take me around.


Iíll pick up the story there in Ramblings02, as soon as I can get to it.


The Old Rambler, on the road Downunder again.