Friday, October 22, 2010
Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales
Well, it was a hell of a day today.† I think I will write it all down and maybe get it out of my system and get on with things.
I slept well, and got up a little later, about 6:40.† I donít want to start slipping later in my schedule, so I will have to be careful.† I did my internet stuff, including IMíing with Christina for the first time in several days.† I also showered and had a couple of my Woolworth's chicken and vegetable pies, and they were delicious.† I finally got out of here about 8:45, which is later than I would prefer.
I first went out to the Lake Cargelligo STW (Sewage Treatment Works).† There are many reports of people seeing three different crakes out there, as well as 2 or 3 species of Fairy-wrens that I wanted to see.† Crakes are secretive birds that are usually very hard to see, so I was excited about maybe seeing one or two species out at the STW.† Well, I didnít see any.† I think the water levels were too high in the ponds, from the recent rains.† Crakes like to have a little mud beach between the water and the reeds, and there was no beach today, with the high water levels.
There were also no fairy-wrens at all, which is completely contrary to all the reports I have read.† I donít have an explanation for that.† I wandered around for over an hour, but only picked up two species for my trip list, both of which are common and I knew I would get many times, eventually.† Australian Shelduck and White-breasted Woodswallow.† No crakes or fairy-wrens.† Very disappointing.
Next, I headed out to the north side of town, to a place that my Sydney birder buddy, Chris, told me about, to look for chats.† Crimson Chat and Orange Chat.† But, I came up completely blank again.† No joy.
On my way to the next place, I stopped at a plowed field that Chris had told me about, and I did see a couple of Banded Lapwings there.† An excellent bird, and one that I thought I might very well not see.† So, something went right today, anyway.† He had also seen Ground Cuckoo-shrike there, but I didnít see any of them.
Next, I headed out to the ďoldĒ chat site, and had no luck there either.† My next step was to go north to a couple of reserves, Round Hill and Nombinnie.† I had a couple of routes I could take, but I chose one that involved about 20 miles of unpaved road.† That is where my day really started to come unraveled.
Reconstructing it now, based on where I ended up, I guess I just plain took the wrong road at a junction.† I was supposed to turn right, and I guess I must have gone straight on instead.† I canít imagine how I did it, but I must have, based on where I ended up.
So, I was pounding my way down this unpaved road, with nothing around and no cars or houses or anything, and it just kept going.† I expected to hit another road in about 20 miles, but it didnít happen.† I kept going and going and going.†† At one point, I had my scare of the day, or hopefully, my scare of the trip.† I was going about 60 mph on the unpaved road, which was fine, until I came to a curve and the gravel was a little thicker there, and I didnít slow down enough, and as I went around the curve, the back end of the car started to fishtail around.† An alarm went off, which wasnít really necessary, as I knew I was in trouble.† Anyway, after fishtailing back and forth 3 or 4 times, I got it under control and slowed down.† No harm done, but it got my heart rate up, I can tell you.† I didnít see anyone at all for the hour I was on that dirt road, so it would not have been a good place to roll my rental car, and I must have been very close to that point.† Allís well that ends well, I guess, but is hard to keep the image of rolling my car on that remote road out of my mind.
Eventually, after about an hour, I came to a paved highway, and the sign there told me that I was not at all where I thought I would be.† I had gone west, where I should have gone north.† I obviously was not paying enough attention to what I was doing, another lesson to be learned.† So, I could now see exactly where I was, and what road I must have taken, inadvertently, so I turned north, to try to recover something of my day.
The extra miles of the wrong road used up too much of my gasoline, too, but I thought I would just fill up at Mt Hope, which was where I was heading to next.† Well, Mt Hope was only a pub, no gas station.† There were birds I was supposed to look for there, but there was a group of young people camped there, or at least hanging out there, and I didnít feel like stopping and wandering around looking for birds, which I most likely would not have found anyway.
My next stretch of road was a pleasant surprise, anyway, as it was paved.† My two maps had both indicated it was unpaved, so I was pleased.† That road took me right through the Round Hill Preserve, and I thought it also took me through Nombinnie, although now Iím not so sure.† I was worrying about my gas level by then, and there was absolutely no sign or any indication where Round Hill is supposed to be, so I just kept on going, as I didnít have any idea where I was supposed to be looking for birds.† I guess it is one of those places that someone has to take you to the first time, as there was no indication whatsoever that I ever saw.† There was one dirt road, which I might have explored if I wasnít worried about my fuel level, but I stayed on the paved road.
By that time, I was counting on getting gas at Eubalong, but it turned out that Eubalong also only had a pub, and no gas station.† So, I came all the way back to Lake Cargelligo and finally filled up here.† I was down to 1/8 of a tank by then, which was making me decidedly nervous.
It was after 3:30 PM by then, so I drove around the town a little, and I did pick up another common species Ė Black-fronted Dotterel.† I might have some marginal pictures.† I also got possible pictures of Fairy Martins on the ground, collecting mud for their nests.† I hope I got a picture of three cormorant species in a dead tree, too.
About that time, I saw four guys with binoculars and cameras, checking out the little wetland area that I had just checked out.† They also showed up at the next place I stopped, and we exchanged hellos.† By that time it was after 4 oíclock, but I was not ready to give up for the day, so I went back out to the STW, where I had been this morning.
As I got out of my car, the four birders I had seen a few minutes earlier showed up, so we all went on in to see if anything was to be seen.† I did manage to pick up two more species for my trip list Ė Cockatiel and Little Grassbird.† No crakes or fairy-wrens, though.† I got some more pictures, though, maybe
I was getting really hot by then.† It was in the mid-80ís, and it was also almost 5 oíclock.† So, I gave it up and came back to my motel room.
Another disappointment awaited me.† My tiny fridge had failed to make ice for me, so I had to have my rum and orange-mango juice drink without ice.† Major hardship.† Oh yes, I also took a cold shower when I got here, and that did help me cool off.† My air conditioning here in the room is useless, so I opened up the windows and door, to take advantage of the breeze, but it is still 76 in here, which is a bit warmer than I would prefer.† If I had ice in my drink, it would probably be okay, though.
It is really beautiful out there now.† It is 7:10 PM and the sun is just about to set, I think.† I took a picture of the view from my room, and it is great.† I guess I should close this off and decide what to do about dinner.† I could have a can of soup, or I could go up into the town and buy some kind of takeaway meal.† I think I will do the latter, and see what I can find.† If I canít find anything that sounds good, then Iíll come back here and heat up some soup.
Lake Cargelligo has been an almost complete bust, as far as birds are concerned.†† There are a number of good birds I might have seen at Round Hill or Nombinnie reserves, but I never really found either one of those places, in all my driving around today.† I wasted an hour or two with useless driving on dirt roads, and I had a scary experience that it is hard to put out of my mind.† It was hot for most of the day.† No ice for my drinkie.† All in all, not a very good day, really.
Still, I did get the Banded Lapwing, and I did add 6 birds to my trip list, even if most of them were common ones that I was bound to get eventually.
Oh yes, one other setback.† You may remember the (lifer) Black-eared Cuckoo I reported in one of my recent Ramblings.†† Well, I had sent a picture to my Newcastle bird guide, Mick, and he reckoned it was a juvenile Pallid Cuckoo, not a Black-eared Cuckoo at all.† He gave his reasons, and I agree with him.† So, I plan to remake that Photos album and rename the three files I posted.† At least Pallid Cuckoo is still a trip bird, even if it isnít a lifer.† Black-eared Cuckoo is a pretty uncommon, or even rare, bird, so it is not surprising.† I appreciate that Mick corrected my mis-identification.
So, that is my story for today.† Now that I have written it all out, maybe I can move on to tomorrow and maybe tomorrow will be a bit less frustrating.† I only have two hours of driving to my next stop, Griffith, and I have two birding sites to check out along the way.† The trip rolls on.
I walked up through the town, and I didnít find anything to eat.† There were two hotels (bars) where I could have gotten a meal, but service is so slow and the prices are so expensive that I passed on them.† There was also a takeaway place, and I went and might have ordered something, but there were half a dozen young people hanging around waiting for orders, and the staff were busy putting ďmealsĒ together for people, so I just left.† I had a can of soup, some carrots and broccoli, some cheese, and some crackers, with some cookies for dessert.† A good ďramblerĒ dinner in my room, and all I needed.
Iím too tired tonight to even download my pictures from my camera, let alone process them, so Iíll put this up on the website and call it a day.† Maybe I can get a Photos up tomorrow night.