WA Pilgrimage No. 8
Sub-title: What the hell is in the water at Armadale?
After leaving Stirling Ranges, and with 6 weeks of wonderful holiday behind me,
it was time to generally start heading back
to Perth to go home. My route back to Perth was again driven by a mix of
plants (particularly orchids), and birds.
Near Stirling Ranges and going through some agricultural and paddock areas, a
few surprises popped up.
Like the 21 Banded Stilts roosting in shallow salt lake water.
Like the Black-tailed Native-hen.
And finally: Yellow-throated Miner - race obscura.
A few nights in Kojonup (fabulous, fabulous for orchids). Horsfield's
Bronze-Cuckoo and Wedge-tailed Eagle here. Stayed at
a B&B in Kojonup and the first bird I heard/saw there was that great native
Australian bird - peacocks !! Hey?? However
breakfast the next morning was at a lovely table looking out on the garden and
White-browed Babblers. That's more like it.
Onwards up the Albany Highway towards Armadale and went into the forest at one
point, where 4 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos were
destroying a sapling eucalyptus tree, biting off whole young branches, holding
them in a foot and chomping on the fruits.
My last focal point before reaching Perth proper was Armadale, for Wungong
Gorge and Bungendore Park (see Frank O'Connor's
website for details). This was basically my last chance to find Red-eared
Firetail. Went to Wungong Gorge to scout it out
late on 27 September, and returned early the morning of 28 September. Looked
for the firetail around the lawn area near the
carpark without success. Did the walk to the creek area and spent plenty of
time looking around.
What the hell is in the water here?
I was standing at the creek peering into the bushes and at the ground searching
for the Firetail. Little did I realise that
a Magpie was lining me up - the first I knew of the bird's presence was when it
swooped over my head, missing me by a
millimetre. Could feel the wind through my hair as it flew over, but did not
hear it coming towards me. Talk about sneaky.
It divebombed me again. Apart from once a long time ago when I saw a magpie
coming for me and was able to duck in plenty of
time, this was the first time where this species had attacked me. It came for
me again and was looking pretty serious so I
decided to leave the area. Explored the bushes and areas along the creek,
including crossing the creek on the water pipe per
Frank's directions. Still no luck. Trudged back to the car in dismay, giving
the lawns one last go. Oh, what's that? Yes,
yes yes: 2 Red-eared Firetails in all their glory on the lawn. By now it's
nearly 10am and I had spent nearly 3.5 hours
looking for them, only to find them back at the car.
With Lifer No. 23 for the trip successfully found, I headed for Bungendore Park.
I was standing and looking at a flower. Little did I realise that a Magpie was
lining me up - the first I knew of the bird's
presence was when it belted into the the rear right hand side of my head,
hitting me so hard that I bled. I looked up at the
bird which was perching and shaking its head after the impact - it had hit me
with such force. I used a tissue to wipe the
blood, and moved away. I didn't realise that the Magpie followed me, and tried
to divebomb me again, but I had ducked down
to look at a flower and the bird only just barely missed me. I then held a
stick up behind my head, and attached the tissue.
The bird did not see this as a "peace flag" or a "truce flag", and tried to
divebomb me again, but this time could not reach
me head because the stick was in the way. Attacked twice in one day, with these
magpies only being about 4 kms from the
Wungong Gorge birds. Have they taught each other? First time a magpie has
connected with me, and I must say that how
serious the magpies were at getting at me freaked me out.
By then I had had enough of the great outdoors, went to cafe and had coffee and
huge piece of cake.
Just as well I found the Red-eared Firetail.
Went round to Darling Range Regional Park at Lesmurdie just outside Perth,
where there were more Magpies, but these were of
the race "non-swoopingii" and slightly restored my faith in Magpies.
One Pilgrimage report to go.
Concord West, 12 km from Sydney city, NSW Australia
S 33°50.278' E 151°05.406'
Newsletter Editor, NSW Bird Atlassers
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