Ah, the senses of summer in SEQ. The smell of fallen figs, the sight of
Christmas orchids, the sound of topknots flapping, wompoos wollocking and
monarchs wolf whistling, and of course, the taste of fine old wines.
With the end of the year approaching, I set off for the traditional yearend
rainforest bushwalk at Levers Plateau with a few friends on Monday.
A couple couldn't make the morning start, so Ritchie, Dave, Michelle, Carl and I
toddled off to Christmas Ck [just north of the NSW border] for a stroll in the
rainforest, and a few dips in the rockpools beneath the numerous waterfalls. It
was nice and cool in the rainforest, and we enjoyed the freshly brewed coffee
and tim tams after the first swim.
Virtually all the rainforest pigeons were present and accounting for themselves
- brown cuckoo doves, top knots, wompoos, rose crowned fruit doves, white headed
pigeons and even an emerald ground dove. Mind you, we had to wait till later
the evening before we heard a wonga pigeon calling.
We picked up Brian and Julie at the bottom of the big hill and parked the roos
on the boundary of the Wild Mountains Trust's rainforest block [they are setting
up an environmental education facility] and followed the old track through to
the border fence, stopping to photograph a very handsome green tree snake along
the way. From there we wandered onto a rainforest campsite on Long Creek.
There was some interesting chirping in the night after the pigeons had gone to
bed - Dave thought they might be sugar gliders. On the oenological front, we
had a 1993 semillon from the Barossa, which went down very well with sun dried
The dawn chorus on Tuesday was a delight, with different species taking their
turn to dominate the airwaves - lewins honeyeaters, yellow robins, catbirds,
monarchs, whipbirds and the various pigeons.
A bit of a communications failure meant that most of the group set off up a
different ridge to what I had intended, so we had a bit of extra navigating to
do to get onto Levers Plateau. At one stage I was so occupied with watching how
the land lay that I almost trod on a red bellied black snake. There were quite
a few turkey mounds about [some freshly raked] and we found a nice open section
complete with 'rainforest grass' on the ridge down to Plateau Ck.
There was a 50 metre high flame tree at the point where we hit the creek - its
first branch was about 30 metres up and there was a lovely carpet of red flowers
below it. One of Dave's objectives for 2002 had been to see a glider, and as
luck would have it, we found a recently deceased suger glider half a km
downstream. It was 20-25 cm long - while it had no obvious trauma, it did have
a suspicious bump on its right hip. Brian took a couple of pictures with his
After lunch at our riparian campsite, we wandered down to the main falls,
stopping to admire the Macpherson reds [large crayfish], have a swim and wonder
about a colourfully speckled 20 cm legless lizard.
The group was a bit noisy during the dusk chorus, so I wandered up the ck with a
glass of 1989 Hunter Valley Shiraz, and settled down to enjoy the sounds of
summer and watch the [robin sized] bats zipping about.
The highlight of dinner was a freshly made trifle that went beautifully with a
bottle of moscutto [sp - spritzy Italian style white]. Later, as we were
enjoying a grand mariner flavoured coffee and the sound of a boobook calling, we
heard an unfamiliar call in the distance. It was a repeated two note call, with
a similar tone to say a rose crowned fruit dove, but at a steady pace [and a
slight increase in volume]. There would be three to seven double notes in the
sequence, followed by a 15-30 second silence. This went on for about 10
minutes. We later heard a short gobble call [which I initially thought was a
white throated nightjar, but I don't think they get into the rainforest, and the
gobble was a one-off and a bit short and light on the hysteria]. We figured the
double note call was probably a male marbled frogmouth [fairly consistent with
the BOCA tape], though I didn't make out a click at the end of the gobble call.
Anyhow, we opportunistically celebrated midnight on DST time with a sparkling
sav blanc nicely chilled on the dry ice, and promptly found some handsome 10 cm
frogs on the bank of the creek.
The dawn chorus on New Years Day was marvellous and I managed to call a noisy
pitta over to a nearby tree branch [which afforded good views of its red
undertail coverts]. After a late start, we made our way over the eastern end of
Levers Plateau to Long Ck falls and then a hot walk back along the fence,
stopping for lunch and a cherry pit spitting contest in a rainforest saddle.
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