Main Range Easter

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Main Range Easter
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 21:09:14 +1000
The "Main Range" section of SEQ's "Scenic Rim" is one of Australia's classic bushwalking trips. Traditionally it meant a traverse of the Great Dividing Range from Cunningham's Gap to Teviot Gap near the NSW border. That's a 30 km stroll with 2,800 metres of up and 2,800 metres of down over 7 peaks and 9 bumps that I did as a daywalk a number of years [I remember seeing a lyrebird and a robin on that trip]. There are a number of steep and exposed sections, so route selection and scunge conditions are critical factors.

This weekend, I was part of a three day, two party traverse between Spicer's Gap and Teviot Gap [doing a key swap at lunch on the second day to avoid the need for a car shuffle]. This is the shorter version of the Main Range traverse that most people do these days. As is the case with the Overland track, most parties head north-south, but I was in the group heading north. I managed to leave the knockerlockers at home, so the weekend's birdwatching was entirely au naturale.

We had to slow for a family of brown quail that was crossing Carney's Ck Rd [at a spot where they frequently hangout] and we saw a pademelon on the old logging road as we were walking into Teviot Ck. The rainforest on the way up the old rabbit fence ridge was fairly quiet, as most of the summer noise makers had either headed north or shut up for the winter. Even the lewin's and whipbirds were subdued - most of the action came from the scrub wrens and warblers, and of course, the ubiquitous satin bower birds. I believe I saw one catbird. The general quietness continued along the tops, though I did manage to whistle in an eastern yellow robin.

Lizard Pt was a very different avian environment. Adjacent to the rainforest, a 500 m2 daisy-filled heath recovering from a fire that knocked out most of the shrubs 18 mths ago provided a focal point for feathered activity. A flock of 8 yellow-tailed blacks were wheeling about [with the odd one hassled by the currawongs]. The satins were active along the ecotone, with a few coming over to check us out [I managed to whistle a female to a branch 2 metres from my nose]. A male striated pardalote was hanging about with a small group of scarlet honeyeaters, a couple of wedgies cruised past and a grey shrike thrush put in a cameo appearance. The most unusual sighting was a pair of red wattlebirds - I rarely see them in SEQ.

I didn't see any of the albert's that frequent the area, though I did find a fresh clump of feathers and a member of the other group saw one near the Lizard Pt campsite. We heard a boobook calling in the night, and of course, the albert's were taking part in the dawn chorus the next day. We saw a few spinebills and treecreepers as we took the roller coaster across to lower Panorama Pt, where a peregrine was sliding about in the breeze.

While we had few difficulties negotiating the cliff breaks on Panorama Pt, Mts Asplenium and Huntley, Double Top and Spicers Pk, the birds were also pretty quiet - apart from a flock of little lorikeets they flew overhead as we were plodding up a knoll. We did see some health patches of sorghum grass along the way, so there is some good habitat for bristlebirds - if there are still any surviving in that neck of the woods.

A wedgie floated backwards 5 metres above our heads as we were descending Spicers and I had a close encounter with a painted button quail. I was following a pad around a bend and came across the bird parked in the middle of the track one step in front of me. I had time to see the red of its eye before it quietly flew 10 metres into the bush. Both our cars and a flock of firetails were waiting for us as we rolled into Governor's Chair with tired legs.

Another memorable Easter for the memory banks.

Regards, Laurie.


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