> Subject: grasswrens, New Guinea, mats
> Sent: 6/12/99 3:02 PM
> To: birding Aus,
> Hi All
Oh and two White-throated Grasswrens, and
> no, they weren't at Gunlom Falls.
> These grasswrens are all over the escarpment in suitable habitat some
> much more accessible like Plumtree Creek and Yirmikmik. But try and
> tell some birders that. They simply must go to Gunlom even when they're
> not fit or healthy or acclimatised enough to tackle that big climb
> safely. But that's not all. Not only do they want Gunlom but they'll
> often have GPS readings to point them to exactly the spot that someone
> else saw the bird often months before, if not a year ago. Some have said
> things like, "Oh my friend saw it and he was sitting on this rock and
> that's where I want to go." Yet, especially later in the year the
> darned birds can be calling around us as we first reach the top. It
> really is quite amusing except when that particular birder shouldn't be
> up there in the first place.
> Banded Fruit-dove gets similar treatment. I've had people who wanted to
> follow Thomas and Thomas literally down that horrid little polluted creek
> near Gunlom. I've even had people tell me that the birds 'should be in
> that fig tree on the left' because that's what the book says. The fig
> tree happens to be on the right but no matter - it's not much use if the
> bloody thing isn't fruiting! These shy birds aren't going to sit up
> there against the skyline just for the fun of it.
> And then when I suggest looking in the dense trees (Elaeocarpus
> arnhemicus) along the creek where Banded Fruit-dove are much more likely,
> no they won't have a bar of it. But I guess it's like telling people
> that if they really want to have a decent crack at Chestnut Rail they
> ought to go to Stuart Park mangroves and them deciding that because the
> traditional area is Buffalo Creek or Thomas and Thomas say Middle Point,
> that's where they'll go!
Banded Fruit-doves actually breed in the gorge beside
> Nourlangie at this time and in many other little accessible pockets of
> monsoon forest near the escarpment as well.
I agree that there is too much reliance on 'stake outs' when birding in
unfamiliar places but if you are have limited time say only a day or two
and limited information, say a copy of Thomas and Thomas and little
else, are you going to a site where you know the bird you want have been
seen or are you going to chance it by just birding suitable habitat
where they just might be? Planning to get the best out of my 9 days in
the Top End on a trip orgainised from Britain had to involve following
Tomas and Thomas. My sucess was - Middle Arm dipped on Chestnut Rail,
Buffalo Creek saw Chestnut Rail well; horrid little poluted stream near
Gunlom Falls, 1 Banded Fruit Dove; Gunlom Falls no Grasswrens but
Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon, White Lined Honeyeater and Black Wallaroo
as compensation. I also thought Nourlangie was superb birding but didn't
see the Fruit-dove in spite of searching for it but did find
Black-tailed Treecreeper (without a stake out).
Ian Lewis, Poole Dorset.
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