Thursday Evening

 

Wow, what a day!† This is indeed a very birdy place.† Remember my ambitious goal of adding 20 species to my trip list while at Bowra?† Well, yesterday afternoon I added 12, and today I added 17 more!† Only 3 lifers today, which surprises me.† I guess that means I am getting the easy ones, not the hard ones, and that does figure.† So, to skip to the bottom line, I am now on 174 species for the trip, of which 20 are lifers.† 300 for the trip still seems impossible, but 250 is looking better.† There will be a lot of new species up north.

 

Back to this morning, I decided not to wait for Ian to give me a report on the tracks, and I headed out a little before nine oíclock.† Before I left, I went over to the little pond near the Shearersí Quarters, where the various people in their caravans stay.† While I was checking it out over there, the woman I mentioned before who has been here for 4 months came by.† Her name is Marilyn.† She was just heading out in the same direction I was going, so I followed her, which was good, because she was able to show me the key ďdetourĒ along the way, to skip a very muddy part of the track.† The track was fine for my little car, but I wouldnít have wanted to attempt it in Christinaís little car, which is a Pontiac Grand Am, or any other normal family sedan type car.† There were some muddy places, and now my wheels and the areas around the wheels are all spattered with mud.† Some mud even reached the windshield and the side panels.† If I donít wash it before I turn it in, the people at the car rental place are going to know that I had it off paved roads.

 

But, it was perfectly safe and not difficult driving.† After the detour, I stopped because I had seen some birds fly, and Marilyn went on.† My birds were Budgerigars (what we call parakeets in the USA), and then soon after those, there was a little group of Cockatiels, another bird that is kept as a pet.† Two more good trip birds, although I had seen them both on earlier trips.† After a while I caught up with Marilyn, so I stopped to see what was going on.† She was about to head out to look for Redstarts, but after talking for a couple of minutes, she offered to take me to a place where I might see Painted Honeyeater, which would have been a lifer for me.† We didnít see the Painted Honeyeater, but we did see a Hooded Robin there (trip bird), and then she took me on to a place where she was able to show me Black Honeyeater (lifer).

 

I left her there and went on, farther down the main track.† I stopped where the track split off in a couple or three directions, and set up my scope and just waited.† While there I saw a number of good birds, including lifer Blue Bonnet (a parrot).† Ian came along on his motor bike after a while, and after we chatted, he went off to check out the Western paddock areas, to see if they were passable yet in a car.† After a while I started back toward the homestead, and Ian came along behind me soon, and he said that it was still too wet out west for cars.

 

He went on back to the homestead, and I continued, stopping from time to time, to see what I could see.† I picked up a couple more trip birds, and then ran into Marilyn again.† I stopped and we talked, and she gave me more great information about what I might see, and where.† After a while, I continued on back toward the homestead, looking for a place to stop and have my lunch.† I stopped at the Painted Honeyeater site, and I may have seen one while there, but I didnít get a good enough look to count it.† Maybe tomorrow.† I ate my humble lunch (ham and cheese sandwich, potato chips, pear, and cookies) while I watched for birds.† I added White-winged Triller there, a trip bird but not a lifer.† After eating, I moved on and at another stop added Grey-crowned Babbler to my trip list.

 

On the way back, I took the north track to Saw Pits waterhole, and stopped at a site Marilyn had described for Bourkeís Parrot, but I dipped on that one.† Again, maybe tomorrow.† While there, I added the third Woodswallow of the day, the Black-faced Woodswallow, to go with the Masked and the White-browed I had seen earlier in the day.† The only Woodswallow I have left to get now, out of 6 of them, is the Little Woodswallow, which would be a lifer for me if I got it.

 

I saw Crested Bellbird (a good trip bird) at the end of the track at Saw Pits, and I saw the Whistling Kite on the nest, which Marilyn had told me about.† On the way back toward home, I stopped and put the tele-extender lens on my camera, and shot a number of bird pictures with it after that.† I havenít looked at them yet, but I am hopeful.† When I post those pictures, Iíll put at the end of the title ď22XĒ, which indicates a zoom factor of 22 times ďnormalĒ.† That is equivalent to about a 770mm lens, in 35 mm terms.† Iíll be very interested to see how they turn out.

 

On the last bit of road before getting back to the homestead area, I saw a couple of little birds on the road.† I stopped to look, and they werenít the normal Zebra Finches, but I couldnít tell what they were.† They flew up into a bush, but I just stayed in the car and consulted my field guide.† Just about the time that I decided that they might be Southern Whiteface, a species I hadnít really expected to see, they flew back onto the road, and I was able to determine that they were indeed Southern Whiteface, which was an unexpected lifer.† What a great way to finish off the day.

 

But, wait, when I got back, I went over to the little pond area near the Shearersí Quarters, to see what might be there, and there was a yellow-billed Spoonbill in a tree.† Not a lifer, but a good trip bird to get.† I took some more 22X pictures there, and I hope that some of them turn out.† If they do, they will be in the Photos05 set, labeled 22X.

 

So, that was my day.† 7 hours out on the station tracks.† 49 species for the day, of which 17 were trip list birds.† Three lifers.† A really outstanding day, in terms of productivity and in terms of just plain fun.†† I feel like I have ďdoneĒ Bowra, even though I couldnít get to the farther reaches of the station and I didnít see any of the key rare and difficult species that live here.† By my standards, it was an outstanding day, although it was probably pretty mediocre by real Aussie birding standards.† Tomorrow I think I will go out in the morning and try to add some of the 4 or 5 species that I missed today that arenít too rare, and in the afternoon, I think I will probably go into Cunnamulla and try to find a place to get online with my computer, and get these two Bowra Ramblings entries up, along with the next Photos batch.† That means I will have to spend a couple of hours tonight processing photos, but that is my intention now.† I am eager to see how the ones with the tele-extender came out.

 

It is 5:30 now, and the temperature in here is 79.5, which is about what it is outside. †There is a nice pedestal fan here, and I have it blowing on me, so I am comfortable.† I had a Bundeberg rum and ginger beer, and now Iím sipping on a Bundy rum and orange-mango juice drink.† Dinner is supposed to show up in an hour or so.† Is this the life, or what?†† I feel out of touch with home and the world, but tomorrow afternoon I hope to connect again.† Iíll probably add to this once or twice more before I put it up on the website, but maybe not, who knows?

 

Barry downunder, after a day out on the station tracks

 

Later

 

Dinner tonight was chicken with rice and lots of veggies, with some kind of jelly roll thing with ice cream and fruit for dessert.† Iím sure glad that I signed up for dinner here.

 

When she delivered dinner, I asked Julie whether she knew of any place in Cunnamulla where I could get internet access, and she said that she had to go into Cunnamulla tomorrow morning and that they have a place there with a high speed connection that I could use.† Iíll have to see if I can connect my computer, and if I can, it will be great.† Iíll try to post Ramblings11 and 12, as well as Photos05.† If I canít connect there, Iíll find a place in town or use their phone line.

 

Iím quite happy with how my 22X pictures of birds came out, using the lens that Christina sent me, which I picked up at the Cunnamulla post office the other day.† Iíll enjoy having it for the rest of the trip.† It really brings the birds in closer for pictures.† See Photos05 for examples.

 

It is still 76 here in the cottage tonight, at 8:10 PM, although it is much cooler outside now.† I closed it up when it started cooling outside, too keep it warm overnight.† 76 degrees is pretty warm for sleeping, but it will cool down a lot during the night, I think.† Not as cold as last night, though, according to the forecast.† Iím guessing maybe 56 inside, in the morning, versus the 50 that it was this morning.† We shall see.† Iíll start with just the sheet and cover up during the night, as it cools down.

 

Julie wants to go to town about 9:30 tomorrow, so I will take care of my internet stuff in the morning, and then go out on the tracks in the afternoon, in an attempt to pick up 3 or 4 more goodies for my trip list.† I might not get any more tomorrow, after my great day today, but I am hoping.† If tomorrow isnít my first day to get skunked as far as adding to my trip list, then Saturday probably will be.† I have to drive for over 6 hours on Saturday, not including stops, so that wonít be a good day for seeing birds.† Iím not looking forward to that, but I have to get up north, and there is a whole lot of country between here and there.† 6 hours on a US Interstate is easy, but 6 hours on a narrow two lane road that isnít very level is another story.† Thank goodness I have cruise control, anyway.† I donít want to be driving as dark approaches, because that is when the kangaroos and wallabies start to come out, and they have a habit of jumping right out in front of cars, I understand.† I see dead ones along the road and in the road all day long.† Hitting a six foot tall kangaroo at 60 mph would not be a good thing.† I would like to be off the road by 4:30 or so, or even earlier.

 

So, a shower tonight, some reading, and Iíll hit the sack by 9:30, as usual over here.† What a life!

 

Friday morning addendum

 

Well, it only got down to 61 in here overnight, which is 11 degrees warmer than the night before.† Today there are broken clouds out there, with most of the sky covered with clouds.† Maybe that will hold the heat down today.

 

If it seems like I am obsessing on the temperatures all the time, well, I guess I am.† But, I need something to obsess about, and the temperature is pretty benign, anyway.† I understand that a lot of older folks obsess about their bowels.† At least you donít have to read about the timing, number, and quality of my BMís, so count yourself lucky.

 

Soon I have to make my breakfast of a ham and cheese sandwich.† I am definitely getting tired of ham and cheese, but it isnít easy to buy anything but ham to make a good high-protein sandwich out of.† I would get some tuna, but their mayonnaise is disgusting over here, and the tuna isnít much better.† When I am in town today, I hope to pick up a couple of chicken pies at the bakery, for my lunch today and brekkie tomorrow.

 

I notice that I have my first mosquito bite.† Yesterday Marilyn said that there hadnít been any mozzies at all until this week, and the flies were conspicuous by their absence before now, too.† I guess the warmer weather and the recent rains have brought them out.† I should buy some spray while in town.† I hate spraying myself, but I hate mozzie bites worse.† Marilyn said the ticks had also just shown up, that she had had three of them burrow into her in the last few days.† So far I have avoided that fate, at least.† I donít go crashing around through the bush like she does, though.† One of the reasons I havenít seen any of the rarities here is that my style of birding is to drive along for a while, keeping an eye out for bird action.† Then I stop from time to time and get out and look and listen.† I donít usually move more than 100 feet from the car.† Not the most productive method, by far, but it suits the level of activity my old body can sustain.† Sitting or standing quietly in the same place for five or ten minutes is actually a pretty effective way to see birds, if they are around.† When you are crashing through the bush, I suspect they hear you coming and go quiet for a while.† By staying near the car, I can have my scope handy, too, which has worked out very well.

 

OK, I canít think of anything else to write about, so it is time to face that ham and cheese sandwich, which I first have to make.† Iíll see if I can get these last two Ramblings up on the website, along with Photos05, later this morning.

 

I am always interested to know who is reading my stuff, so it would be a good time to drop me a quick email, just to let me know you are out there, to either of my two email addresses at aol.com.† Bbrug or birder1944.

 

B