Friday, January 8, 2010

Twenty years ago today

Sitting at Heathrow at the start of a fifty hour nightmare journey to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. I hate travelling but I like to get there! Here is something from 20 years ago, would love to revisit Australia sometime...

7/1/89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Cath did it again, surprising a striated grasswren in amongst a flock of variegated wrens. I did not see it, having to be content with the regular white-fronted honeyeater. The afternoon session was more like it however, located 3+ striated grasswrens and had superb views of one male as Cath drove them along. Fantastic birds. As usual their call was familiar, also shy hylacola (1). Having succeeded we went back to Hattah Lake; blue-faced honeyeater (3) and pink cockatoo (4).

8/1/89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Enjoying the place so much, decided to check out ‘Beesite 8’. An area where the traditional bee-keeping in the mallee persists despite it being in a National Park. It is a lucrative business apparently. More mature, taller mallee trees here with more leaf litter and less spinifex. Picked up yellow-plumed honeyeater which were common in this type of mallee. Also yellow-rumped pardalote (+).

Then came the big surprise, located a black-eared miner (1) a bird I was so convinced we would not see I was not even bothering. The bird showed a uniform grey mantle and rump, very little white in the tail, underparts paler grey, fading paler towards the vent. Overall impression was of a grey bird reminiscent of noisy miner rather than yellow-throated. Facial pattern more extensive on ear coverts than yellow-throated. According to my criteria, this proved to be a pure black-eared miner! Another could be heard nearby but was not seen. The bird showed no sign of shyness until pushed hard. Cath got a photo which will be interesting to see. Told the ranger who was quite excited, so gave him all the details to forward to researchers working on the birds. In his gratitude he told me where an ‘easy to find’ malleefowl mound was.

Located the mound eventually, couldn’t get the van up the track, so walked in and past the mound. When we eventually found it, watched it for four hours, hearing a male but not seeing it. We were however rewarded with two striated grasswrens right on dusk. One bursting with curiosity came out in the open to inspect us! You spend three days looking for a bird and then it comes and looks at you. Camped overnight on the track which was a bit naughty. I’d love to know what the bird that landed on the roof in the night was.

9/1 /89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park è Vaughan Springs

An early morning stake-out did the trick, after a brief look at us, two birds came out and started work on the mound. However I think we disturbed them and they melted away into the mallee. So we left them to it and after thanking our ranger headed for Bendigo. Got there at 4 pm but could not raise our contact who lived nearby so we headed for Vaughan in the hills east of the Castlemaine-Daylesford Road. Nice to see fuscous honeyeater (+) and brown treecreeper (2+) again.

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