Victoria wandering 3

Subject: Victoria wandering 3
From: "Peregrine" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 16:43:58 -0500 (EST)
Sorry this is a bit late, got distracted by a trip to Washington DC...

Tue.  10 Dec. Little Desert NP
        Woke up this morning to several raucous groups of Kookaburras 
that had us surrounded.  They are the first to wake up and the last to go 
to sleep.  I got up before sunrise to have a walk around.  The river was 
all hung with mist, and it was very picturesque, red gum trees 
highlighted with the yellow light of first sun on them reflected in the 
still water.  There was a Yellow-billed Spoonbill in one of the small 
ponds, along with a White-faced Heron.  Spotted Pardalotes, Yellow-plumed 
Honeyeaters,  Australian Magpies, Magpie-larks, White-browed Babblers, 
Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Red-rumped Parrots, and a pair of Crested 
Shrike-tits were ripping bark above our campsite.  I ran into my first 
Emu as I walked a bit down the road.  Once Stephan was up, we drove to 
the nature walk south of Kiata. On the road there we stopped for a 
Shingleback Lizard  which is definitely one of the more bizarre reptiles 
I have ever seen.  When annoyed it opens its mouth and shows you its 
black leaf-shaped tongue.  
        The nature trail is relatively short.  In fact, most of the birds 
in the area can be found around the picnic area.  The trail is worth 
walking, however, since there is a Malleefowl around the mound which is 
marked on the trail.  You need to approach very quietly, since there is 
no blind, and as soon as it notices you it walks very quietly into the 
bushes and is quickly lost from sight. Other birds along the trail 
included Variegated Fairy-wren, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-eared 
honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Spotted Pardalote, 
Tree Martin, Golden Whistler, and Little Eagle.  Also on this trail was a 
Sand Goanna, which was one of the prettier Goannas that I have seen with 
its striped patterns.  
        We drove on to the nature trail South of Nhill, which was 
bird-free in the heat of mid-day.   I dropped Stephan off at Mt. 
Arapiles, and stopped at a pond on the way back where there were 
Hoary-headed Grebes, Australasian Grebe, Straw-necked Ibis, Black Ducks, 
Gray Teal and Wood Duck.  At the Nhill sewage treatment ponds there were 
also Australian Shelduck, Sacred Ibis, Chestnut Teal,  Black-fronted 
Dotterel, and Black-winged Stilts.  I stayed at the campground south of 
Kiata, so I could do the nature trail at a cooler time of day the next 
Wed 11 Dec. Little Desert, Wyperfield NP

        This campground is deserted.  ItUs very odd to sleep out by 
yourself in the middle of the mallee with only Magpies and Galahs for 
company.  Woke up to do the red gum walk next to the campground.  This 
morning the New Holland Honeyeaters are out in force.  It seems that 
wherever there are New Hollands, there are millions of them everywhere, 
making picking out anything different especially difficult.  The other 
honeyeaters in the area were White-plumed. Other birds included Diamond 
Firetail, Jacky Winter, Willie Wagtail, Brown Treecreeper, Rufous 
Whistler, Striated Pardalote, Emu,  Eastern Rosella, and Noisy Miner.  
IUm pretty sure I heard a Frogmouth,  and I flushed something that looked 
like a quail but I was unable to find it again. In the trees around the 
campground were Red-rumped Parrots and Purple-crowned Lorikeets, which 
were especially pretty, with the purple and red and yellow on their 
faces.  No Mallee Ringnecks yet, unfortunately.   Mammals on this walk 
included Gray kangaroos which were outnumbered by rabbits, hares and two 
foxes.  Now I have seen most of the native animals I am likely to see, 
and also most of the introduced ones.  
        The trip back to the nature trail turned up nothing new, except a 
better look at the Malleefowl, so as it started to get hot, I left for 
Wyperfield National Park.  On the way out of Little Desert I stopped for 
a few Kestrels, Black Kites, Cockatiels, and a RichardUs Pipit. When I 
got to Wyperfield finally, it was very dry and very hot, but instead of 
completely wasting an afternoon reading I went on the Brambuck Nature 
walk.  The special bird here was the Splendid Fairy-wren.  These live up 
to their name, the male is like a little feathered sapphire.  I canUt 
believe that this color blue actually exists in nature.  For most of the 
walk through the mallee the only other bird I saw was a Rufous Whistler 
and a Brown Falcon until I got to the red gum trees of the lake bed.  In 
the trees there were White-browed Woodswallows, Galahs, a couple of Emu 
far off in the heat-haze, and an Australian Hobby which when I first saw 
it, mistook it for a Peregrine.  I immediately realized that it was too 
small to be a Peregrine, however, but I was still happy to see it perched 
right up on a tree where I could examine it for as long as I wanted.  Saw 
another Shingleback, but it seems that most of the birds are smarter than 
me and stay out of the mid-day heat.  Some interesting little sand 
insects too, that look a bit like small pale colored mantises that 
skitter along the sand almost like little lizards.  Flies were AWFUL here.
        Later that afternoon I walked up to the Eastern Lookout, and 
along the trail were Rainbow Bee-eaters and a variety of thornbills, 
including, Yellow-rumped and Inland.  In the late afternoon, the 
kangaroos were out, and there were plenty of Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, 
Galahs and Corellas flying around the campground.  There are feral bees 
here as well, and they swarm around the water tanks and the sinks in the 
bathrooms, making a visit to either of these spots risky until after 
dark.  Went to bed hoping for Mallee Ringnecks in the morning.          
Thr. 12 Dec.  Wyperfield,  Hattah-Kulkyne NP

        Was woken up by Galahs again.  I actually slept in and didnUt get 
up until about 5.30.  I did several walks today, in places that had 
looked promising while I was scouting the day before.  At the Eastern 
Lookout were a pair of Pink Cockatoos that I had been hoping for which 
were showing off for each other on a dead tree; I love the orange and red 
pattern in their crests, itUs like they have Japanese paper fans on their 
heads.  There were no Malleefowl at the public mound when I stopped by, 
but there were quite a few White-browed Bablers there.  At the second 
trail along from the lookout,  which was pointed out to me by some 
birders who were in the area,  there was lots of activity, including  
large numbers of chittering swooping White-browed  and Black-faced 
Woodswallows, White-winged Choughs, Spiny-cheeked and White-plumed 
Honeyeaters,  Gray Currawong, Weebill, and Inland Thornbills.  Some new 
mallee birds, Southern Scrub-robin and  Ground Cuckoo-shrike.
        The Tyakil nature walk was also very nice, since there were no 
flies out yet.  Plenty of Brown Treecreepers and White-plumed 
Honeyeaters...I heard a noisy chittering up in the trees and looked up to 
find the little bird that was making it when suddenly my binoculars 
settled on an owl!  I was surprised to find that next to that one were 
two fluffy babies and another behind.  They were just roosting, and I 
finally decided that they were the Boobook Owls I had heard the night 
before.  This was the best surprise moment of the trip, I wasnUt 
expecting to actually see them so well.  Along the trail were more 
thornbills and Rufous Whistlers,  a gorgeous singing male Red-capped 
Robin,  Splendid Fairy-wrens,  and Tree-martins.
        Soon after the flies started to wake up (around 11 am), I packed 
up all the gear into the increasingly unorganized pile that was the back 
seat of my little car.  Hattah-Kulkyne National Park was my next 
destination after driving forever through mallee scrub without seeing 
much except for Crested Pigeons and Galahs on the side of the road.   But 
I was greeted in the Parking lot of the information center by a pair of 
Mallee Ringnecks!  I was so happy since I was getting worried after 
several days of no-shows.  The other lifebirds in the parking lot were 
Apostlebirds, at least 15 of them.  I love these, they look almost human 
in the way they crowd around talking to each other, and the expression on 
their faces.  
        Hattah Lake was home to Wood Ducks, Black Ducks,  White-faced 
Herons, Australian Pelicans, White-necked Heron, Little Black Cormerant,  
Darter, Masked Lapwing, Pied Butcherbird, Great Crested Grebes, and 
numerous loud Galahs and Sulfur Crested Cockatoos.  The Rosellas in the 
area were all of the yellow subspecies, which threw me off  for a few 
seconds since I was looking for Regent Parrots.  Red-rumped Parrots were 
also fairly common in the area, often flushing up from the side of the 
road.  My campsite was inhabited by a 5 foot long Goanna which promptly 
climbed up a tree nearby to be scolded by the Yellow-throated Miners.  A 
late afternoon walk on the nature trail found me a single Red Wattlebird 
and a heart-stopping startle by a legless lizard.   

Katie Bertsche

Katie Bertsche .........If you're too busy to go birding, you're too busy.

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