Lamington National Park, Bowerbirds Rainforest Guesthouse, Friday night, 12 September 2008.
Well, here I am up in the Aussie version of mountains again.† Almost 3000 feet elevation again, I think.† Again, I am in a house that has only a wood stove for heat.† This is an ďecoĒ type house.† Solar powered, rainwater tanks for water, and composting toilets Ė no water or chemicals involved.† There is a worm farm under the front stairs, too, to compost table scraps.† After you use the toilet, you just dump a scoop of sawdust down the hole.† We do have TV reception, though, and my cell phone appears to have a signal, although I might be interpreting the display wrong.
I got out of my nice little motel room in Toowoomba at about 8:45 this morning.† I drove down the street to McDonalds for brekkie, as I had planned.† I had internet access there, and this morning I put up Photos02 and Ramblings05, I think.† I paid Au$7.50 for an hour of high speed access, and I ended up with 26 minutes left over, which I might be able to use later in my trip, at some motel that uses the same service.† I wonder how many other of the places I am staying that advertise high speed wireless access charge for it, like that place last night did.† It never occurred to me that it might be a separate charge to connect to the internet.† Australia is at least five years behind the US in terms of internet access at places of accommodation.† Maybe more than five years Ė the phones donít even have data ports, and I never was able to get online with my dial up access last night.† That might have been because the Telstra number was busy all the time, but that in itself is an indication that internet access is not yet a requirement of lodging places here.† Oh well, internet access isnít everything, but I do miss it when I am not connected to home.
I had planned to stop today at a couple of places near the town of Gatton.† I stopped at the Tourist Information center in Toowoomba, to be sure I could find Lake Apex, my first intended stop (to look for the Freckled Duck that was supposed to be there).† The elderly lady in the information center assured me that I couldnít miss it Ė Lake Apex was on the right side of the highway, as I approached Gatton.† So she said, anyway.† As I approached Gatton, there was no sign of a lake, so I got off the freeway at the Gatton offramp, and there was actually a sign there that said Lake Apex.† Well, I drove for several miles and saw no more signs to Lake Apex.† I was sure I had gone wrong, but when I got to the center of Gatton, damned if there wasnít another sign to Lake Apex, now only a kilometer (0.6 miles) away.† I found it easily enough then, and I then realized that it was indeed on the right hand side of the _OLD_ highway from Toowoomba to Gatton.† I wonder if the elderly lady in the information center has been to Gatton since the freeway went in, which was at least six years ago, when I last went through there.† Probably a lot longer ago than that, too.
Anyway, I did find Lake Apex, but the information center there was closed at 10 am.† My directions involved going to the bird hide and then looking at a particular place at the end of an island.† Well, there was no map showing where the bird hide was, so I started walking around the lake in the most likely looking direction.† Sure enough, after a while I found the bird hide, and when I looked where I was supposed to look, there was the Freckled Duck, as advertised.† Not a lifer, but a good bird, and one I am not likely to see anywhere else I am going.† Success.
Next, I moved on to the campus of the University of Queensland at Gatton.† I had printed a map of the university before I left home, and I had no problem finding the lake there, and the new bird hides, put in since my last visit in 2002.† The target bird there was the Pink-eared Duck, and there they were.† There were also hundreds of Plumed Whistling Ducks, also needed for my trip list.† They actually do whistle, and it is kind of eerie when they get started with the whistling.† Pictures to follow, of the Pink-eared Ducks and the Plumed Whistling Ducks.† There are supposed to be Red-rumped Parrots on the campus, too, and I had seen them there 6 years ago, but no luck today.
By this time it was after noon, and I was getting hungry and I also needed petrol (gasoline).† I followed my directions and got gas a little while later, and then soon after that I found a little town park and made myself a nice ham and cheese sandwich, accompanied by a pear and a Diet Coke.
Thus refreshed, I continued on my way, with no other adventures except a wildfire burning in the grass right along the road.† At one point, the smoke on the road was so thick that I had to slow right on down almost to a crawl to safely proceed.† The flames were right there on the side of the road, too. In one place, they had jumped the road, so I suppose the fire continued on the other side.† There was no sign of anyone there doing anything about it Ė I suspect it hadnít been burning all that long.† After I got past the fire, my car reeked of smoke for half an hour or more, despite my opening the windows to air it out.† Later, when I got to the town of Canungra, just before heading up into the mountains again, there was a lot of smoke around from another fire, or maybe fires.† Fire is a big deal here in Australia.† (Fire, drought, flood Ė they have it all here, although I donít think they have tornados)† The mountains I was heading into were pretty hazy with the smoke, and I couldnít really tell if there were more fires up here, but so far, I havenít seen any here in the mountains.
The road up from Canungra to Lamington National Park is very narrow and winding in parts.† Much of it is one-lane only, in hundred yard stretches at a time.† I counted vehicles that were coming down as I went up, and I passed 19 of them, in about 20 miles.† Fortunately, I met each one at a good place, although I did have to wait a couple of times, due to the single lane situation that kept recurring.† When I drove that road in 2002, I swore I would never drive it again, but today it didnít seem all that bad.† Maybe they have improved the road a bit, but I think that the main difference is that I was expecting it this time.
So, I got here about 3:30.† I got settled in and then took some time to update my records as to what bird species I have seen.† I write them in my little notebook when I see them (or soon after), and then in the evenings, I generally mark up my field guide, to reflect what I have seen this year.† But, I also have a printed copy of a spreadsheet that shows all the Australian species and which years I have seen each one, if I have indeed seen it.† I marked up that printed copy of the spreadsheet this afternoon.† It was a good exercise, because to do it, I went through my field guide and looked at each species (over 700 of them) and reviewed whether I had seen it yet, and if not, where I might see it on this trip.† Of course, many of the species donít occur in Queensland, so I just skipped over those.
I had stopped in the town of Canungra to get some groceries and some cash from an ATM.† I got some microwave vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, for those who want to know, and you know who you are) and three cold meat pies that I figured to heat up in a microwave.† Well, my lovely solar powered eco house doesnít have a microwave Ė such a thing never occurred to me.† I would rather have a microwave than a stove, and I kitchen doesnít seem complete to me without a microwave oven.† There is a gas range, though, so I heated the veggies on the cook top and heated my steak and potato pie in the oven.† I had some cheese with it, just so I was sure to get enough fat, and it was all delicious.† It was the best meat pie I have had so far on this trip.† After dinner, I finally broke out the caramel Tim Tams.
You may remember that the Aussie birder, Judith, who picked me up at the airport last week, was supposed to come up here to Lamington to bird with me tomorrow.† The last I heard, she was going to come up tonight, so we could get an early start tomorrow.† Well, it is almost 9 PM now, and she isnít here, so I guess something must have come up.† She could still show up in the morning, I guess, but if not, then I will struggle on alone.† I hope she didnít have an accident on the way up or something.† I donít have internet access here, of course, but the owners, who live next door, said I could use their phone line to connect, so in the morning, I will go online and see if there is an email from Judith.† Maybe I can also get this up to the website, if the connection seems fast enough and they donít mind me taking that much time.
I asked my host how cold it gets at night up here, and he said maybe about 10 degrees Celsius, which would be 50 degrees F.† Not as cold as the Bunya Mountains, but maybe he is being optimistic.† At this point, at almost 9 PM, it is still 64 degrees in here, and I am quite comfortable.† I may or may not light the fire in the stove tonight.† I have been going to bed pretty early, by about 9:30, or 10 at the latest, so maybe I will save the nicely laid fire for the morning.
So, today I picked up four species for my trip list, with no lifers Ė the three ducks mentioned above and Black-fronted Dotteral.† That brings my total to 124 species, with 14 of those being lifers.† Tomorrow is more rainforest birding, which is going to be pretty tough without Judithís help.† Weíll see what I can do.† My four target species are Paradise Riflebird, Albertís Lyrebird, Green Catbird, and Regent Bowerbird.† I could easily dip on all but the bowerbird, as I should see that at the feeders at OíReillyís, a resort up here, well known for the birding around it.† We shall see.
Tomorrow is another day, and who knows what it may hold.
I slept well again last night.† Just the sheet and one blanket was enough for me.† It was 56 when I got up at 5:30 to pee Ė not bad at all.† I didnít get to sleep again, so I got up a little after 6.† I had intended to light the fire this morning, but it is really quite comfortable in here, and a bit warmer outside.† 58 F sounds cold, but I like it just fine, especially with the sun shining in.
I got one of my target birds from the veranda, before brekkie Ė Green Catbird.† I also saw at least two female or immature male Satin Bowerbirds, but no Regent Bowerbirds yet.† I am sure that the reader will remember that I already saw lots of Satin Bowerbirds when I was in the Bunya Mountains.† I know that yíall are paying close attention to everything I write.
Now I am eating my ham and cheese sandwich, using up the last of the ham, which I bought 3 or 4 days ago.† When I finish it, I will venture out to see what birds I can see around OíReillyís, and maybe even hit one or two of the rainforest trails.† If I see that my hosts are up and around, Iíll ask about getting online. If I donít see them, Iíll come back later in the morning to do that, or even this afternoon maybe.
This guesthouse is situated on the edge of a hill, near the top, with a great view out over the rainforest and mountains, to the east.† I hear lots of birds calling, but I donít know what they are, for the most part, of course.† It is a very beautiful and peaceful spot.† You can Google it to see where I am staying.† Bowerbirds Rainforest Guesthouse.
†2 PM Saturday
Well, I did the rainforest thing, and Iím back.† I walked a couple of tracks in the forest for about four hours, with a lot of stops.† I didnít see anything new, but there were some interesting ďoldĒ birds to watch.† The ďbestĒ bird I saw, in terms of degree of difficulty was a couple of Logrunners, up close.† I also had a wonderful long look at an Eastern Whipbird, a bird that you hear all the time, but is difficult to see.† The prettiest ones were the Rufous Fantails, I think.† I had some photo opportunities, most of which didnít quite work out.† Just as I was ready to take the shot, the bird moved on, generally.† I took a few that should make the next Photos posting.† I feel like having a kick-back afternoon, and maybe I will process my photos a little later and get them ready to put up on the web.† First I would like to check my email, though, and post this, so Iíll go next door and see if I can use their phone line to get connected.
The rainforest sure was peaceful and relaxing.† As it got later, the tracks near OíReillyís started to get a bit crowded, and when I got back to OíReillyís itself, the tour busses had come in, and the Japanese tourists were taking pictures of each other hand feeding the Crimson Rosellas and the King-Parrots.† I moved on down the road to the Python Rock track and walked there for a while, after first finding a secluded place in the forest to have my modest lunch.† Oh yes, I dipped on the Regent Bowerbird, too, which I had expected to see at the OíReillyís feeders.† It seems they have changed the federal law about feeding wild birds, and now a commercial establishment needs a permit and they are restricted as to how much and how often they feed the wild birds.† I might be able to attract a Regent Bowerbird to the feeders here at the guesthouse, but the owner said he hadnít seen them around lately.† Tonight I will try putting some fruit out for the possums, to see if I can get them to come to have their pictures taken.
In the rainforest this morning, I did see a couple of pademelons, small hopping marsupials that I had seen with Ken.† Smaller than the wallabies I have seen, about the size of a raccoon maybe.† I got a picture of one, but the flash made his eyes blaze so much that I might not want to post it.† Iíll see if I can fix the eyes.† I also saw some kind of little mouse-like creature, very cute indeed, scurrying around the forest floor.
So, I have a relaxing afternoon to spend here in my lovely guesthouse, and then tomorrow I plan to be off to Girraween National Park, where I again have a little self-contained cottage, with no phone line or internet access in my room.† Again, the owners indicated I could use their phone line, so maybe I can answer emails and get a Ramblings up.† We shall see.
Barry downunder in the rainforest