Monday, October 25, 2010


Swan Hill, Victoria


Wow, I had a great day today.  I only added three birds to my trip list (unless a longshot comes through, which I am not expecting – details later), but I got a lot of pictures that I really like, and I had a great time.  The weather was perfect, too.  Sunny and cool in the morning, warming to the lower 70’s F by the middle of the afternoon.


I slept well again.  In bed by 9:45 and fell right asleep; up at 5:30, after only getting up to pee once.  I wish I could sleep like this at home.  I know the popular consensus is that if I exercised more at home, I would sleep better, and there may be something to that, but it is more complicated than that.  I have several sleep problems, and there are a lot of factors that affect them.  As one example, drinking alcohol is supposed to negatively affect your sleep, but I definitely sleep better after drinking.  Like I said, there are a lot of factors, and I have been studying the situation for years.


Anyway, I wanted to get out early today, and managed to be out of here by 7:30.   I had some email stuff to do, and I Instant Messaged with Christina, so those things delayed me.  I put up a post on my Aussie birding mailing list this morning, about the place I am going to next, and I got a response that was very helpful, but I had to answer it and ask more questions.


Anyway, I made myself a lunch, had my humble brekkie, took care of my morning constitutional obligations, and was out of here by 7:30.  I stopped and gassed up before I left town, although I wasn’t really planning to drive far today.  My first stop was a place called the Goschen Bushland Reserve.  There are some very uncommon birds that are seen there, although a couple of them are only really there when a particular plant, the emu-bush, flowers.  I saw one emu-bush that had one or two flowers on it, but most of them were not flowering, so I didn’t see those special birds.


But, at 8 in the morning, Goschen was a pretty “birdy” place.  At this point in the trip, and from now on, most of what I see will be “repeats”, but that is fine – I will just concentrate on photos from now on.  I got a lot of bird pictures that I really like today.  They aren’t good at all as far as professional photography is concerned, but I am quite happy with them.  My little point and shoot camera is working fine again.  It was only that one day that it was acting up.


So, I spent a couple of hours at Goschen.  The preserve is the location of an old school, established in the 1890’s and finally closed in 1979.  See Photos12 for pictures.  The birdiest part of the reserve this morning was around the old school grounds, and I spent most of my time there.  I added Singing Honeyeater to my trip list early on, but the rest of the time there, I was taking pictures of birds already recorded on the trip.  That was fine with me.  I enjoyed it very much.  Interestingly, when I got back here and was processing my pictures, one of them kind of mystifies me.  I called it a Mystery Bird in Photos12.  When I took it, I thought it was a Rufous Songlark, one of my “Witchy Birds”, but on seeing the photos, I wondered if it could possibly be an uncommon honeyeater that is seen at that site sometimes.  It probably isn’t, but I sent the picture to my bird guide of last week, Mick, asking him his opinion.  I will be interested to see what he thinks.  My best guess now is that it is a Singing Honeyeater, but I will see what Mick thinks.  What I am hoping for is White-fronted Honeyeater, but it is very unlikely, I’m afraid.


After Goschen, I stopped at Round Lake.  There have been some interesting ducks reported from there, but not today.  No ducks at all that I could see.  I did get some pictures of Clamorous Reed-warblers, which I was glad to get.  They are not usually so visible, and they never stay in one place very long.  The pictures are poor, but it is a difficult bird to photograph.


From there, I moved on to Lake Boga.  It is a beautiful lake, a couple of miles across, I would guess.  There were people out there waterskiing, and there were very nice homes all around the lake.  Interestingly, it was completely dry last year, and had been for 5 or 6 years, because of the long drought here.  It is hard to imagine all those beautiful homes around a completely dry lake.  I hope their drought is truly broken now, but only time will tell.  There are a number of pictures of Lake Boga in Photos12.  Just imagine it completely dry for 5 or 6 years.


One of the reasons for going to Lake Boga was for ducks.  From where I had my lunch, on the edge of the lake, I couldn’t see any ducks, but there is a road around most of the lake, so I took that after lunch, to see if there was anything to see.  Sure enough, there were a few ducks from time to time.  Mostly Great Crested Grebes, but a little bunch of Australian Shelducks, and out a ways, I spotted one female Musk Duck.  That was a trip bird, and was one of the three uncommon ducks I had hoped to see today.  Number two for my trip list.  Did I mention in the last Ramblings that I expected to see three new trip list species today, and hoped for six?  Well, at that point, I had seen two, and it wasn’t looking good to see any more.


The paved road around the lake only went about ¾ of the way around, but I had seen a map and saw that there was a road that went the rest of the way, but back a bit from the lake.  As it turned out, when I got there, that road was unpaved and there was a sign saying “Dry weather road only”.  Well, it was plenty dry, so I went on.  On that stretch, I got great looks at White-fronted Chats, both male and female.  It was a bird I had counted several days ago, but these were much better views, so much appreciated.  I got pictures - taken through the windshield of the car, unfortunately, so they are not sharp at all, but I have included them in Photos12 anyway, as it is such an attractive little bird.


From there, I went on to Lake Tutchewop, to look for more ducks, and also for White-winged Fairy-wrens, which were supposed to live there.  I found the lake, and there were no ducks I could see, but I spotted a little group of fairy-wrens while looking at the lake.  There were both males and females.  Females are hard to identify without very close looks, but the males are very distinctive.  First I indentified Superb Fairy-wren, the common one I had seen the most so far, but then there was an exquisite male White-winged Fairy-wren.  Dark blue body with white wings.  Beautiful.  I hung around for a while, trying for a picture, but only saw Superbs after that, no more White-winged ones.  Still that was my third trip bird of the day, so my expectations had been met.


It was still only about 2:15 or so, so I went back to Goschen, even though I knew it wouldn’t be as good in the middle of the day as it had been at 8 AM.  Sure enough, there were a lot fewer birds around, and I only got pictures of an adult Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, to go with the one of the immature bird of this morning.  At about three o’clock, I called it a day and headed for home


On the way home, I stopped at Safeway again and loaded up with dinners for the next several days.  I found some more of the ones that are not refrigerated, and I got a couple more ones that need to be kept cold.  I have plans to keep them cold tomorrow, even though they won’t quite fit into my little cooler.  I plan to make a temporary cooler out of an empty Diet Coke carton, lined with plastic bags, and some baggies of ice.  We’ll see how that all works out.  I have been accumulating ice cubes in the freezer, and I think it will work out fine.


My next stop is a town called Ouyen.  I don’t know how to pronounce that, but I will ask.  There are several parks around that area, and I plan to stay there for four nights, in a motel I stayed in on my 2004 trip.  They are supposed to put a microwave oven in my room, to go with the little fridge that all motels offer.  They offer wireless internet, at some horrendous cost, no doubt, and if that doesn’t work out (given my experience so far, I am certainly not counting on it), I will have a phone in my room, and I will use my dial up access.  It is only a couple of hours of driving to get there, and I have two or three places I can stop on the way, to look for birds.  I might not see anything new tomorrow; it will again be a challenge to not get skunked.  It is bound to happen sometime, and tomorrow could be the day.


Time for me to get this up on the website and have my humble dinner.  Thanks to everyone who has made comments on Facebook, and if you don’t want to do that, send me an email.  I really need to have the support from home, and I really appreciate it.


The Old Rambler