Atlassing the back blocks of Mt Clunie [south of the border]

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Atlassing the back blocks of Mt Clunie [south of the border]
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 21:22:43 +1000
Just back from an exploratory trip into the northern fringes of one of the
southern colonies.

Friday night, Tim and I drove down past Mt Lindesay and camped in the Bell Bird
Picnic ground [it has a handy covered picnic table].  For some reason, all the
road signs had been removed, but we knew where to go, and had the place to
ourself.  A pretty quiet night with just the odd boobook calling, the flying
foxes doing their thing, and a few dogs howling in the distance.

Saturday morning, the owners of the site made their presence known [as they are
wont to do] but we managed to see a flock of little lorikeets flying past, and
of course, they couldn't drown out the calls of some passing yellow tails.

We drove through Woodenbong to the locked gate near Lindesay Ck and followed the
rabbit fence up to the border and another locked gate.  We followed the border
track for a bit and then followed side track down in the direction of Dead Horse
Mountain.  Since we were on a network of forestry tracks, the GPS came in handy
helping us find our way in the general direction we wanted to go.  Birdwise, the
most interesting point was a tree that had a catbird, a pair of regent
bowerbirds and a couple of satin bowerbirds.

We then followed an old track and a sandstone gully before crossing a ridge on
our way down to a tributary of Grahams Ck.  We wanted to cross that creek to get
to a ridge that looked very interesting the map, that would take us onto the
upper shoulder of Mt Clunie.  Getting across the creek to get onto that ridge
proved to be quite a challenge, as there was an incredibly thick vine tangle
blocking the way [we had to traverse 30 metres through vine densities
approaching 50 vines per cubic metre].

Eventually we were able to grapple, bash and worm our way through and up onto
the ridge.  There was an old logging road running up the ridge, and so plenty of
regrowth in places.  From what we could see, the vegetation would have been very
interesting before the place was logged.  There was lots of clumpy grass along
the road [the type with red/brown berries] and some very tall gingers [with blue
berries].  Also quite a few of those 'cabbage palms' and pseudo walkingstick
palms.  Generally the going was easiest on the south-western side of the ridge,
and we had some nice views towards the Koreelah Range.

We had expected to be camping on a ridge, but when we reached the edge of the
full rainforest, we heard the welcome sound of running water and found a very
nice campsite on the bank of a babbling creek.  There was a fair bit of birdlife
about, with rose-crowned and wompoo fruit doves calling in the distance,
catbirds wailing, lewins honeyeaters firing, and a pale yellow robin coming over
to join us as I pulled the cork of a 1989 Wolf Blass Grey Label [Cab Sav/Shiraz]
- a four star wine to go with a four star location.

Camping in a tall forest beside a babbling creek is incredibly restful, although
Tim's snoring was a bit of a fly in the ointment.  We added a few more birds to
the list this morning while we had a leisurely breakfast and then climbed
through some splendid rainforest up to the rabbit fence at 900 metres.  There
was a large convocation of top knot pigeons in the local supermarket and a
couple of albert's lyrebirds calling from both sides of the fence.  We flushed
the one on the Qld side and it went scurrying along the border track.

We cruised down the fence admiring the forest until we reached a side track,
which we followed across a minor creek - the birding highlight of this section
was seeing a pair of crested shrike tits low down at close quarters.  We also
found a deceased top knot pigeon - its head had been bitten off - I don't think
it likely that it was killed by a cat, as top knots are generally up round the
top of the canopy and thus out of reach.

We did flush a grey goshawk near the edge of the rainforest.  It appeared to
take off from the ground, and there appeared to be some damp white gunk on the
ground in the vicinity of its take-off point.  

A bit further along we saw a female riflebird, another shrike tit and a male
regent bowerbird.  A number of the bloodwoods seemed to be sugar glider feeding
stations, and we saw a lone koala on the ridge down to the car.

Finally, as we were driving back along the Lindesay Highway, we saw an
interesting rail in the little quarry area about a kay or two north of the
border gate.  It was probably a buff-banded rail, but from the car as we cruised
past, it looked a dull grey, and at first glance appeared to be the size of a
moorhen.  It ran into a thicket of lantana as I stopped the car.  Perhaps it was
a juvenile BBR, and perhaps it was something more interesting - just one of
those little birding mysteries.


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