Road Trip - Blueys, Hunter, Border Ranges, Kaputar

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Road Trip - Blueys, Hunter, Border Ranges, Kaputar
From: "Evan Beaver" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 17:43:12 +1000
Birders, I've had some diverse experience lately, so I'll just
summaruse them all here. Notable sitings include Rajah Shelduck at
Buhladehla on Tuesday the 5th, easily seen in the carpark, Muck Duck
at Pokolbin and some other interesting locals. More new mammals than
birds too, which doesn't happen very often.

The week started with a lightening trip to the Hunter, Friday and
saturday nights at the end of last month. Didn't do any actual
birding, just a lot of drinking wine and wandering around gardens, but
still saw lots of interesting birds around the place. Lots of
Kestrels, and Pied Butcherbirds, both fun birds to watch and have
around. Major personal highlight were Musk Duck and 2005 Lakes Folly
cabernet. The Musk Duck was paddling around, virtually underwater,
which I believe is diagnostic, among some Aussie Grebes and Euro
Coots. A good looking duck, neck like a bull.

Sunday afternoon I took a canadian birder out to my 'never fail'
Origma and Lyre birds spot, to find nothing at all, not even a grey
fantail. Luckily spotlighting that night with GT in Sun Valley, Blue
Mtns,  located the Tawny that the Canadian so dearly wanted to see.
Found me my first Greater Glider too, which was excellent.

Monday I found that there are Apostle Birds at PineGrove cemetery, the
furthest east I've ever seen them by a long margin. Presumably they're
escapees from Featherdale Wildlife Park a couple of k's away, but
would they be admissible in a Twitchathon?

Tuesday the road trip proper kicked off, with a truly Alpine Start
(4am) getting us to Buhladehlah just after sunrise for Breakfast pies
and Radjah Shelduck. Another handsome duck, 2 in 3 days. They're
virtually pet's though; "have you got any bread?"...

By Tuesday night we were with the hippies in Nimbin, staged on the
fringes of the Border Ranges. A late night/early start still found
some fun animals; Parma Wallaby (long thin tail, rather than short and
stocky like Pademelon) found pottering around the campsite at dusk,
and platypus in the river in the morning. Flocks of 20+ Topknot and
White-Headed pigeon chased each other between the fig trees.

Wednesday night we camped at the Sheepstation Creek in Border Ranges
NP. We drove in from the Eastern end, stopping at a  couple of the
lookouts along the way. I can't say enough good things about Border
Ranges. Bec likes it more than me, but I still agree that the sub
tropical rainforest there is spellbinding, maybe even nicer than the
tropical RF. It's much less aggressive, that's for certain. At night
we chased sneezing Long Nosed bandicoots around the camspite with our
torches and found a Rufous Bettong shuffling around in the grass
pretending not to be there. I'm a little unsure about this ID, but it
seems logical. Small, short-nosed, hopping animal slightly shaggy fur
and a rufous wash, rummaging around in grasses on the edge of wet
sclerophyl forest. If any experts read this (Peter?) I'd be very
interested to hear some opinions.

Thursday morning we struck out to do the Sheepstation Creek to Forest
top walk, including the Rosewood walk. Then we were to camp there and
walk back the next day. It's a great walk, much easier in the downhill
direction! We heard many Alberts Lyres, but never caught up with them.
I think they're shier than their southern cousins; despite following
maybe 10 calling birds I didn't get even close, as the birds tended to
always walk away. The Superbs are relatively easy to find when
calling, caught up in the rapture of the whole event. The dense forest
doesn't make it any easier.

Did however get an excellent look at some Logrunners, chasing each
other around and wrestling on the track. It's good to get an good look
at new birds, rather than just "there it is, dark wing coverts".
Yellow Footed antechinus ran in and out of the campsite over night,
based mostly on their size, which was smaller than the antechinus I've
seen in the Mountains.

We walked back down the road to save time and disturbed a couple of
Brown Pigeons sitting on the road. Stopped briefly in Kyogle to  eat a
horrific pie and discover the cinnamon almonds that go beautifully
with scotch in a cold campsite. We then went NW through to Toonumbar
NP, to a spot marked Mt Lindesay on the map. I'd seen a picture of the
Mt in a catalog and wanted a closer look. We got to the spot, only to
find a lookout on the side of a road, where we could see Mt Lindesay
off in the distance. They'd left lookout off the description of this
spot, and the real Mt was 50k North! To console ourselves we drank
beer and ate blue cheese, trying to find the way to the real Mount.
Lewins HE and Spotted Pards called their hearts out in the Euco's and
my first Regent Bower arrived as we were packing to leave. Fortunately
this was a male, in spectacular plumage, as I'd decided that a female
wouldn't be good enough, and would only tick a male. No innuendo
intended. A few more Parma Wallabies hurled themselves down the loose
slopes to avoid the thundering Subaru.

We then drove north to find the actual Mt Lindesay, only to be utterly
baffled by the geography of the place and how to get there. So we cut
our losses and sprinted for Warwick for a hot shower and a burger. We
arrived there at about 4, not at all keen on camping at a caravan
park. So we pushed on another 30k toward Ingleside, stopping at a
private park I can't remember the name of. It's a funny place, acres
of private land, a lot of which is preserved despite some previous
rural land clearing, but it's preserved for motorbike riders, who have
a few tracks through the forests. I'm all for it, it allows people to
take their dogs and noisy motorbikes to some nice places, leaving the
NP's for conservation. It also preserves some fairly decent bits of
habitat. We camped on the side of a dry creek, full of redgums and
casuarina, with about 2 hectares to ourselves, and no other humans in
sight. Also saw my first Euro/Wallaroo standing out like a black,
hairy kangaroo among a bunch of Eastern Greys. Then the sun went down
and it got cold. Burnt enough ironbark to start a forest and still
shivered through the night. Woke to find all water frozen and snow on
the inside of the tent where our breath had condensed and frozen.

A pair of Pale Headed Rosellas relieved the cold a little in the
morning, as did coffee strong enough to strip paint. Threw the tent in
the car still covered in frost and headed west to Goondiwindi, then
south to Narrabri. More pale heads seen over the road en route, as
well as a Square Tailed kite, a few Whistling and Fork-Tail Kites,
2,000 Kestrels and a dozen Black Shouldered Kites, none of which were
Letterwings. Made a road trip mistake and ate KFC for lunch on the way
up to Mt Kaputar NP.

Mt Kaputar NP is spectacular, one of the best placces I've ever seen
and probably the best NP in NSW. There's hot showers in the
campground, kilometres of marked walks and plenty more in the
wilderness, jaw dropping geology and related climbing, and these odd
very specific habitats folded in among the peaks and valleys. Lots of
euco's, but then there's also Grass Trees on the cliff edges and
exposed bits, and pretty little heath flower in among the rocks. We
did the Yulludunida peak walk about half way around, past the 3rd
peak, before turning around because of the heinous wind that had
picked up. There was some ice on the start of the route, so it must
have been pretty cold.  You need a decent level of fitness for the
full circuit, but I can't recommend it strongly enough. Somewhere in
the grey area between walking and genuine climbing, Yulludunida is
excellent fun, with some exposed climbing up very easy rock onto these
rocky pillars that overlook the whole plains. Also saw our first
Yellow Bellied Gliders at night, and heard Owlet's calling. The forest
was absolutely riddled with gliders, with perfect conditions for them.
The last night was colder than that out on the plain, where I wore
every piece of clothing I could, then stuffed my sleeping bag with all
spare clothes and was still cold. Somewhere near -6 we think.

The cold beat us in the end, sending us home a day early. I didn't
keep a trip list but estimate that we saw a lot of birds and many
mammals. We didn't see nearly enough of any of the areas we went to,
and will likely be back to Kaputar for 2 weeks of climbing and
walking, Border Ranges for a few more days walking and birding, and Mt
Lindesay for what ever goes on there, probably a little of each.
Holidays are great.


Evan Beaver
Lapstone, Blue Mountains, NSW
lat=-33.77, lon=150.64

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