Monday Night

Still Girraween


I guess I will do an update covering today.† I wore myself out today, hitting all the various birding sites I had read about and been told about here in the Girraween area.


This is completely different countryside than Lamington or the Bunya Mountains.† Instead of rainforest, it is dry eucalypt forest, with lots of granite outcroppings, boulders, and peaks.† Pictures will follow eventually, hopefully.† The pictures seem to be lagging behind the commentary, I notice.


Anyway, I got the last Ramblings and Photos03 up this morning, using my hostís phone line.† I tried to use his high speed microwave connection, but it seemed like you had to have their software on your computer to use that connection.† So, I fell back to good old-fashioned dial up, and it worked.† I even managed to connect with Christina for a live chat, for the first time on the trip.


Anyway, by the time I got all that sorted out, it was 9 oíclock, and I headed out to the park, to see what I could find.† I parked in the Day Use area of Girraween National Park and headed out on the tracks.† I walked several hundred yards along the Junction Track, but turned back when the bird life seemed to go quiet.† I saw three new trip list birds in the first ten minutes, and then nothing else new in the next 2 plus hours.† It was beautiful country, though, and the weather was great.† The morning overcast turned to sunny skies with patchy white clouds.† I had worn my jeans, foolishly, and I was soon much too hot.


I finally gave that up about 11:30 and headed back to my little cottage to change to my shorts and drop off the rest of my stuff.† As I was walking on the tracks, I realized that I had left things in my car that I would really, really not want to have stolen.† This is the most remote I have been so far on the trip, and as I go into more remote areas, I am going to have to be careful about leaving my car with things in it that I canít afford to have stolen.† It may be a small risk, but if I can avoid it, I should do so.


Stanthorpe is only about 20 minutes away, and I hadnít been able to stock up on groceries yesterday due to the fact that it was Sunday, so I drove in and got some provisions.† I stopped at a rest area that one birder had seen some good birds at, but I saw nothing interesting there.† Back to my cottage, where I made myself a great ham and cheese sandwich with the home made bread that Robin had delivered this morning, and I enjoyed it out on my little porch (sorry, veranda).


After lunch, I headed to a nearby site I had been told about, to look for Plum-headed Finches and Turquoise Parrots.† I found the site, but dipped on the finches and the parrots.†† I did manage to see White-plumed Honeyeater and Jacky
Winter there, though, so it was still worth going there.† A man from the neighboring winery came down to see if I needed help, and when he saw I was looking for birds, we chatted.† He confirmed that Turquoise parrots did live in the area.


I guess I havenít mentioned that this is a big winery area.† There are literally dozens of small wineries.† When I stopped yesterday at the visitor information place and asked for a map, the man there started telling me about where all the wineries were, as if any tourist stopping there was only interested in vineyards.† I guess he didnít notice the binoculars around my neck.


Anyway, after I finished walking up and down the road there for a while, I drove back into the park, to the parking place for Dr. Robertís Waterhole, my next destination.† Again, I had been told of several very desirable species that might be seen along that walk.† I walked to the waterhole and back, and I did add two trip species, Eastern Spinebill and New Holland Honeyeater, but dipped on all the really interesting ones that supposedly were there.† It was a very pleasant walk, though, and the waterhole was very pretty.


Increasingly, I am realizing what a terrible Aussie birder I am.† I guess I learned this lesson on each previous trip, but somehow I manage to forget just how bad I am.† I am reading a book about birding by a well-known Aussie birder, and he mentions that he identifies 80% of the birds he sees by their call.† So, where does that leave me, when I donít know the calls, and my mind just canít remember them, even when I see a bird make a call?† It leaves me out in the cold, trying to see birds simply by movement and visually spotting them.† Not a good place to be, as it turns out.† But, even so, I am enjoying myself.† It has never really been all about the birds.† I found all the places I was looking for today, and I saw a lot of new, very beautiful, Australian countryside.† I also added another 9 species to my trip list, bringing it to 142 species.† Still only 14 lifers.† That is a very low total, by Aussie standards, and it is disappointing to me, too, in some ways; but, it is 142 more than I would have seen if I had stayed home, and I have seen some great parts of Australia in the bargain.† So, I am satisfied with how things are going.† After this, I am heading into new territory, where I have never been before, and there are a lot of species out there that would be lifers for me.


My next actual destination is a working cattle station (or, maybe sheep and cattle both) in the real Aussie outback.† I have three nights there, and the birds are supposed to be great.† Of course, a duffer Aussie birder like me will only actually see a few of them, but even a few will be great.† I hope the recent rains havenít made the station tracks impassable to my little AWD car.† It is called Bowra Station, and it is very well known among Aussie birders.† It is a long way away, out west, so I am taking it in two easier days of driving, stopping at St. George tomorrow night, rather than trying to drive 11 or 12 hours in one day.† Iíll be very interested to see how I do in that environment.† I want to do as well as I can, at seeing birds, but it doesnít really matter.† Just being there and looking will be enough in itself, actually.† Any birds will be a bonus, and there are bound to be some.


Have I mentioned here that I forgot my tele-extender lens for my camera, at home?† I realized it on the plane Ė I had just forgotten to pack it.† I donít use it all that much, but I would like to have it with me, so I emailed to Christina and she found it.† She sent it by International Express Mail to the Cunnamulla, Queensland, post office, to be held for pickup.† It is supposed to be there by tomorrow, so I plan to stop at the post office in Cunnamulla on Wednesday and pick it up.† Hopefully.† This ought to be interesting.


So, my time at Girraween is drawing to a close.† I am really beat tonight, after all my walking today (by my standards Ė it really wasnít much walking at all, but I am old and out of shape, so it was a lot for me).† It is 8:30 now, and I need to stay awake for another hour, so I guess I will read my Aussie birding book and think about tomorrowís plans.


Barry, still downunder, and very tired tonight, in a good way


Tuesday Morning


Ahh the smell of fresh-baked bread.† Robin delivered a new loaf a little while ago, and the pleasant smell fills the cottage.† As soon as I finish here, Iíll scramble up the remaining four eggs, add a slice of chopped up ham and maybe a little cheese, and butter up the end crust of the new loaf.† Add some of the delicious canned peaches on the side, and I will be set.† Iíll use another couple of slices of the loaf to make a nice ham and cheese sandwich for my lunch, too.


I slept very well again.† Maybe it was all that exercise yesterday.† I went outside before going to bed, and the full moon was shining in all its glory, making the night seem magical.† The only sounds were the insects and the frogs, in the distance.† The Southern Cross was blazing in the sky, but the full majesty of the stars was reduced by the light of the moon.† It was a very special 10 or 15 minutes, enjoying the night.


Lots of driving today.† I have two main choices Ė go straight to St. George in about 5 hours, or detour to take in Sunset National Park on the way, which would make the driving time be more like 6 hours.† If I can get out of here early enough, I could spend an hour in Sunset NP, which would be my last chance to see Turquoise Parrots, and maybe some other southern species.† So, Iíll close this now and get going on my brekkie, followed by packing up and loading up.† A quick stop down at the farmhouse to get this up on the website and send/receive email, and Iíll hit the road, hopefully.


Barry downunder, in the glorious blue-sky morning time.