Sunday, November 07, 2010


Adelaide, South Australia


I actually set my alarm today, and was up at 5:25.† I had arranged to meet Mark, a local guy I had met online, at 6:30, and I was only about 4 or 5 minutes late.† I beat him to the meeting place by about 15 seconds.† He was on his motor scooter, so I did the driving today, while he navigated.


Mark isnít actually a birder, but he is interested in wildlife and the outdoors, and he had offered to take me around today.† He had a christening to go to in the afternoon, so it was going to be the morning only.† He had talked to a couple of mates, and they had given him advice on where we should go.


Our first stop was the edge of Cleland Conservation Park.† We walked along a track that was high up on a ridge, and looked and listened for birds.† There wasnít much going on at first, but then we started seeing the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.† Black-Cockatoos are kind of special birds to me, and I was thrilled to see them so close.† I had seen a couple of them, flying in the distance, with my guide Mick, way back at the start of the trip, so I had counted them then, but today I really saw them† And got pictures.† I learned when I got back here, by looking in my field guide, how to tell the difference between the males and the females.† The females have light colored bills, while the males have dark colored bills.† The eyes are also different colors and the yellow patch on the side of the face is different, too.† Anyway, I was glad to get pictures of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, and you can see them in Photos20.


We saw some other birds on that walk, too, especially when the sun came out, but I didnít see anything new for my lists.† It was a glorious morning, at that point, and I enjoyed the walk in the woods, as well as the birds.


Next we went to Scott Creek Conservation Park, based on some advice that Mark got by text.† He was texting with one of his buddies as we were birding.† Mark navigated us to the Scott Creek place by using the inadequate map I had, plus the GPS on his phone.† We kind of wandered around, I think, but we got there eventually.† We stopped a couple of places, and encountered a woman there who gave us some advice about where to go.


Based on her advice, and maybe a wrong turn we took, we found a place by a creek that looked promising.† There was a small crowd of people around, and they turned out to be a bushwalking group, out for a walk in the bush.† There was quite a bit of bird activity in that area, and we enjoyed trying to see the birds flitting around.† The real highlight of that stop was the koalas, though.


I had only ever seen a koala in the wild one time, on my very first Aussie trip, back in 2002, in southeastern Queensland.† I thought I saw a large, odd-shaped birdsí nest near the top of a tree, and when I mentioned it, Mark said right away that it was a koala.† Sure, enough, with the binoculars, it was clearly a koala, sleeping away the day, wedged into a fork of the tree.


Koalas are nocturnal, and they sleep all day, high in trees.† I took some pictures, which were very difficult to get, as it was high in the tree, and the sky behind was now clouding up, so it was a very bright background.† I have heavily processed the pictures, and they are nothing to be proud of, but I am just pleased to have seen a koala, let along gotten pictures.


Then we saw a second one.† And, this one was a bit lower, and I got some more pictures, one of which is in Photos20 also.† As we were looking at the koalas, the bushwalkers (who all seemed to have some kind of accent, maybe German or Scandinavian) came by, and as they went down the road, they shouted back to us that there was a third koala.† We got the car and moved on down to see the new one.† This one was actually awake a bit, and looked at us and moved around a little.† I got more pictures, of course.† It was all quite thrilling for me.


After that, we moved on to another place in the park, and were looking for birds when the bushwalkers caught up with us and soon after that, they met another group coming the other way.† I thought it was pretty amusing, to watch them greeting each other and continuing their march, each in opposite directions.† So, I took some more pictures, of course.


We tried to find another place that Mark remembered from years ago, but ended up giving that up and I took him back to his motor scooter, and he headed off to his christening.


I was getting hungry by then, so I went back to my cabin and made myself a lunch (ham and cheese sandwich, etc).† I took it and went looking for the nearby Belair National Park, where there were supposed to be birds.† It turned out to be quite a challenge, with my poor tourist map that only shows main roads, and most of them donít even have the names on the map.† I ended up stopping to ask three or four people along the various roads I was on, and eventually I got there, but not until I had spent quite a while driving through nice residential districts with curvy streets.† I visited one particular intersection three times.


Once I finally found it, I paid my $8.50 and got in to the park.† I got a map at the entrance booth, and I found a place to eat my humble lunch.† After that, I found the place that had been recommended as the place to look for birds, and I walked for about 45 minutes in the woods, up and back down a dirt road that was closed to cars.† I saw a few birds Ė a good look at an Eastern Spinebill, a very attractive little bird, and a couple of good looks at Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were the highlights.†


I have to say that I am not very impressed by South Australian birding.† I have visited several of the key sites that are mentioned in the bird-finding guide I have, and none of them have been very ďbirdyĒ, in my opinion.† Of course, if I knew the calls, it would be a hell of a lot easier to find birds I was interested in, and I donít claim to be a good birder, but overall, I am simply not impressed.† Iím glad to be seeing the state of South Australia for the first time, and Adelaide is a beautiful city, but I donít think I will be returning here for the birding.† Maybe now I understand why South Australia doesnít usually figure in the online birding trip reports for Australia.


After my fruitless walk in the woods, I drove all round the park, checking out each of the several roads that seemed to go up valleys.† It is a beautiful park, and there were many people having picnics in the many picnic areas.† It had clouded up for a while in the morning, but it was sunny and nice by the afternoon, with temperatures in the high 60ís F.†† I enjoyed driving through the park, and I stopped a few places and looked around, but there wasnít much bird action.† Of course, it was mid-day, and that is never good for birding.


I gave up about 2:30 and headed for home.† I had less trouble finding my way back than finding my way there, Iím glad to say.† When I got back here to the caravan park, I decided to drive up the valley, past the caravan park.† The road went a lot farther up the valley than I had realized.† I stopped at one point, I forget why, maybe because I had heard birds, and I saw still another koala, sleeping in a tree.† This one was lower than any of the three at Scott Creek CP.† So, I took a lot more pictures, of course.† It sort of woke up a couple of times and shifted position, so I took more pictures each time.† Photos20 will have an inordinate number of koala pictures, but that reflects how thrilled I was (and still am) about seeing the little darlings.† None of the pictures are really any ďgoodĒ, photographically, and I had to heavily process them, but I am just glad to have a record of the fun time I had seeing the little beauties.


So, I got back here and processed my pictures, chatted online with my friend Fred in California, started this Ramblings, had a drink or two, had my humble dinner, and now I am about to finish this and get it all up on the web.


Oh yes, another funny little story.† If you have been a faithful reader from the very beginning (it seems like months ago now, doesnít it?), you might remember that on my first day in Sydney, I lost my bifocals.† When I got to my hotel, I couldnít find them.† I kept thinking they would turn up somewhere in all my crap that I am carting around, but they never did Ė until today.† This evening I found them in the compartment of my backpack where my computer goes.† Somehow they got in there, and I never found them when looking through all the various compartments of the backpack.† They were in a hard case, which was a good thing, as every time I packed my computer away, I must have been putting it right on top of them.† Iíve been getting by fine with my reading glasses from the Dollar Store, but it always mystified me how I could have lost them between the airport and my hotel.† I still canít imagine how they got into that compartment of my backpack.† Now I wonít have to worry about replacing them when I get home.


So, that is my story for now.† Tomorrow my plan is to drive around the Fleurieu Peninsula, which is south of here.† I have a number of birding sites I could visit (from the same bird finding guide that I have not been impressed with so far).† I will probably do that, but I am not really excited about driving all day, frankly.† I love to drive, but the 3000 plus miles I have driven since arriving here feel like enough for now.† Iíll think about it tonight, and weíll see.† Maybe there is an abbreviated route I could take, seeing a couple of places and having time to stop and smell the roses along the way.† I have notes on my planned route, and I need to review them and then Iíll think about it overnight.† Whatever I do, I wonít be expecting much in the way of birds, so Iíll just do whatever feels best in the morning.† On Tuesday, the plan is to leave here and start making my way along the coast to Melbourne, my last stop on this adventure.


So, that is my report of my Black-Cockatoo and koala day.