OK, here goes number 3, in an attempt to catch up.† I am pretty frustrated, because I just spent over an hour fighting to upload my Photos01 folder.† One of the problems turned out to be that my web hosting service doesnít like file names with an apostrophe in them.† They donít bother to tell you this, of course, and when you get an error message, it doesnít give any hint of this.† Computer nerds!† What a bunch of anal perfectionists who relish their ďspecialnessĒ.† Anyway, I finally figured that problem out, and after uploading all the files about 4 or 5 times, I think they are ready for viewing, as soon as I put in the link to get to them.
Picking up the story, on Monday morning, the plan was to drive from Kenís house in Mapleton to Rainbow Beach.† However, I had been getting increasingly disenchanted with my rental car.† It was smaller than I expected, it reeked of cigarette smoke, it constantly shifted on any kind of hill, and worst of all, it didnít have cruise control, which my contract said it was supposed to have.† It was a Suzuki Grand Vitara, which is probably a fine little car for a midget who only drives on the level, but I didnít like it.
So, I got on the phone on Monday morning and told Europcar that I didnít like it, and they said to take it in to the Sunshine Coast airport, which was very convenient for me, so I did that.† They cheerfully replaced it with another car, a Subaru Forester.† It still isnít what I expected to have, but it does have cruise control.† It doesnít reek of cigarette smoke (it only reeks of the disgusting perfume they spray the interior of their cars with), and it has a lot more power than the tiny little Suzuki.† It is more of a station wagon with All Wheel Drive than a 4WD SUV, which is what I thought I was getting, but I guess it will do.† The terms and conditions say I canít take it off-road, but I can drive it on unpaved roads.† The people at the rental counter told me that I couldnít take it on any unpaved roads at all, which would be ridiculous here in Australia, especially for a four wheel drive car, so I ignored them and said, ďsureĒ.† When I get out to the Outback, I am planning to take it out on the unpaved station tracks, where I am staying.† I just hope I donít break down out there or damage it Ė there will be hell to pay if I do, I am sure.
So, I picked up my little Forester on Monday morning, then I headed for Rainbow Beach.† I stopped at Gympie to do some shopping at Woolies (Woolworths).† I loaded up on food staples and things like ice trays, paper towels, plastic wrap, and toilet paper (you never know when that might be needed, in the outback, far from the nearest McDonalds or public toilet).† So, all supplied, I drove on into Rainbow Beach, which is a very nice little beach town that I had visited in 2002 and really liked.
I arrived at my little holiday apartment here about 2 PM, and got settled in.† Then I headed out to Inskip Point, which is about 15 minutes out of town.† From Inskip Point, you can drive onto a barge (if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and have gotten a permit) and go across to Fraser Island, which is a nice nature reserve, I understand.† I havenít been over there, though.† I just went out to the point to look for birds.† One bird in particular is supposed to be able to be found at Inskip Point, the Black-breasted Button-quail (BBBQ).† It is pretty uncommon, but people have seen it a number of times at Inskip Point, so I was determined to look for them.
I wandered around for an hour or more, seeing some other good birds, including (lifer) Varied Triller and (lifer) Common Koel.† I also got my first look of the trip at a little beauty of a bird called a Rainbow Bee-eater, which I really like.† I got a picture that I like of a Rainbow Bee-eater the next morning Ė see Photos01.
I finally returned to my little apartment about 5 oíclock, having dipped (that is, I didnít see it) on the BBBQ.† At the end of Day 4 (Monday), I had seen 101 species of birds on the trip, of which 10 were life list birds.† Still doing well.
I was going to get online by using my dial up internet access that I had set up Ė I had made sure that my accommodations had a phone line, so I thought I had it made.† What I neglected to do was to check on the cost of using said phone line.† It turned out to be very expensive, so I figured I would have to limit my internet time as much as possible.† But, when I turned on the computer, it could ďseeĒ someoneís unsecured wireless connection, so I just connected to that and have been using it ever since.† It must belong to a neighbor, as I donít think it belongs to the apartments where I am staying.† Very convenient, so thank you very much, unknown benefactor.
Monday evening I finally felt like I had recovered enough from the jetlag to have my first Bundy rum with orange-mango juice, and then I knew I was really back in Australia.† I had picked up two 40 ounce bottles of Overproof (115 proof) Bundeburg rum at the Duty Free as I came into Brisbane, and I cracked open the first of those on Monday night.† They even had a couple of little ice trays here in the apartment, and they actually had ice in them, too.† Those of you who followed my 2006 adventures might remember that getting ice is a challenge over here, which is why I bought a couple of ice trays at Woolies on Monday.
Do you remember my two garment bags, mentioned in Ramblings02?† I had unpacked at Kenís house and put my shirts and long pants into two garment bags, so as to let the wrinkles hang out as much as possible.† Well, Monday evening it started to get a little chilly, and I thought I would put on my jeans, and it suddenly came to me that I had not put the garment bags into the car at Kenís house that morning.† Bummer.† All my shirts and both of my pairs of long pants were now 2 Ĺ hours of driving away, not to mention the 2 Ĺ hours to get back again to Rainbow Beach.† 5 hours round trip.
Well, I figured I might as well bite the bullet and spend 5 hours driving back to Mapleton on Tuesday, and I called Ken and told him my plan.† He suggested a much better idea Ė wait until Wednesday, and go to my next destination, the Bunya Mountains, by way of Mapleton, and get the garment bags then.† I spent some time on Google maps and decided he was absolutely correct Ė it would add two hours to Wednesdayís drive, upping it to 6 hours from the planned 4 hours, but the net savings was 3 hours of driving.† So, now I am facing a rather long day of driving tomorrow, but it is better than if I had spent 5 hours today, going back to Mapleton and returning to Rainbow Beach.
So, Monday night I managed to stay up until about 9:30, and I again slept very well, getting up about 5:30 this morning.† I walked around the neighborhood before brekkie, but didnít see anything new except one trip bird, Noisy Friarbird.† I had my breakfast and headed back out to Inskip Point, to have another try at the BBBQ.† On the way, I stopped at Bullock Point and picked up two lifers Ė Mangrove Honeyeater and Eastern Osprey.† I had seen Ospreys here in Australia on my 2006 trip (as well as at home in the States), but since then, the Aussie species has been broken out from the North American one as a separate species.† Since I did not count it as a lifer in 2006, I did so today.† I got the picture I like so much, of the Rainbow Bee-eater, at Bullock Point, too.
So, after that, I went back out to Inskip Point again, to search some more for the BBBQ.† I walked around, peering into the brush for an hour or so, but no luck.† I did see some other interesting birds, some of which I couldnít identify.† I went back to the car to look at my field guide, having decided to lighten my load by not taking it with me, but none of the ones I had seen were new ones for the trip, as far as I could tell.† I wanted to get a better look at one or two of them, but it was too far to walk back out to the point again, from the end of the paved road, where I had left my car.† There was a sandy dirt track out to where the barges leave for Fraser Island, but I didnít want to take my little Forester into deep sand.† I ended up compromising and driving about half way out, until it started to get too sandy, and I left it there and walked the rest of the way back out to the point, for the third time.
The third time was the charm.† I saw a quail-like bird scurrying along the ground, about 15 feet away, and I froze in position for 3 or 4 minutes.† After waiting that long, it started to scratch around in the leaf litter, using one foot at a time, in little circles.† I got a good look at it, and it was a male Black-breasted Button-quail, big as life!† I watched it for two or three minutes, getting great views, as it scratched around, about 15 feet away.† I then took a couple of pictures, but they are both very out of focus, sorry to say.
But, I was excited, and extremely pleased.† It made my whole day.† Just one more lifer, but one that is pretty uncommon, and one I didnít really think I would see.
So, after that, I drove back to my apartment, stopping on the way to pick up some meat pies for my lunch and dinner.† I had gotten a little 4-pack of caramel slices at Woolies, so had one of those with lunch, and another with dinner.
This afternoon, I drove around the bay to Tin Can Bay, but it was very disappointing as far as birds were concerned.† The only ones I added to my trip list were Mistletoebird and Pied Oystercatcher, although I did get a decent picture of a Blue-faced Honeyeater, which I had seen at Kenís house.
I was pretty tired, though, after my walking around at Inskip Point in the morning, and I came back here about 3 PM and started catching up on my Ramblings and photo processing.
So, at the end of Day 5, I am on 111 species total, with 13 of those lifers.† Things are going to go a lot slower now, as the easier ones have already been seen, and I donít have an Aussie birder with me any more.
Tomorrow I have my six hours of driving, to get to the Bunya Mountains, via Mapleton.† That is a pretty long day of driving on the types of roads I will be on.† The route is kind of tricky, too, and I hope I donít get lost along the way.
I donít think I am going to have either a phone or an internet connection in my rooms for the next six nights, so I donít know when I will get anything else up on the website, after this.† Maybe I will write it as I go along, and then put it up all at once.† I might find ways to get online a little, though, so keep checking back to see if anything else has appeared.
Iím tired and ready to head for bed, although it would be good for me to go for a little walk first, so maybe I will do that.
Bye for now,