Hi all, and especially those who gave me leads for Malleefowl and
Our New Year?s trip was to be an exercise in birding one particularly
rich site on both the last day of one year and the first of the next.
The plan was to get a good finish for 2005 and a good start to 2006. An
idea brought on because my 2005 count on 30 December was 463 and Joy?s
was just under 450.
The result was an experience in Extreme Birding. Now, this may be an
obscure concept to some; to others you will know exactly what I mean.
Joy and I realised a problem when we heard the weather report for the
period and Joy said to me, outside her front door as we headed out "This
may be the silliest thing we have ever done". We were heading for Hattah
Kulkyne for 3 days birding. At 8:00 in Altona Meadows it was in the low
30s. By lunch at Sealake it was in the low 40s and when we arrived it
was to find a total fire ban, including gas stoves, and temps in the mid
40s at about 4 pm.
Now, the 31st was hot. We had an early start from our tent and the temp
screamed to the mid 40s and burnt there from 10am to 8pm. What we didn?t
know was that the 1st was going to be a really HOT day. By 3 pm as we
were driving back from an unsuccessful trip to Yarrara in search of W B
Treecreeper the temp, as shown on the thermometer of my trusty
Forrester, was 49! AND then there was the wind!! Strong and from the
north west and dry enough to desiccate eye balls in 20 seconds and
evaporate a litre of water from the body in 22 flat.
I have birded in a blanket of mosquitos at Kakadu, in the heat of the
Kimberly. I have vomited my way through a Port Fairy pelagic and frozen
looking for owls in minus 30 degrees in the USA. NONE of them though,
match the experience of Extreme Birding achieved from 2 days of 45+ in a
tent at Hattah!
Extreme birding was very interesting though. We found that Chestnut
Quail-thrush dish out a shady bowl in the soft sand of the car tracks at
Hattah and hunker down; Hooded Robins hang out in reptile burrows in the
edge of the road; Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters scoop out sand and huddle in
groups under leaning trees; Corella?s and Galahs sit chest deep in the
water that is now in Little Lake Hattah; the thick shade of She-oaks is
the preferred retreat for many birds. All birds flatten their feathers
as far as possible, cup out their wings from the body and pant
Some brilliant birding though, the highlights of which were: 2
Malleefowl on the old Calder road in Hattah, Mallee Emuwren,
Chestnut-crowned Babblers, Inland Thornbills, Major Mitchell Cockatoos,
Striped Honeyeater, large numbers of Regent Parrots, Mulga parrots and
Bluebonnets and the brightest Splendid Fairy-wrens I have ever seen.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Isn?t it wonderful how fast the human
brain forgets the bad and emphasises the good?
Happy new year everyone
Ps; Oh, and for some reason we had the whole of Hattah to ourselves. Not
one other person their. Woosses!
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