… and then it rained

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: … and then it rained
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 14:32:13 +1000
Hi all,

I have just enjoyed a wonderful week at Gluepot based around easter and the
Birds Aus Vic Group campout. We camped at the Bellbird camp ground, about 14
kms from the homestead and had the place to ourselves. Every day was calm
and sunny with cool, but not cold, nights.

My target was Red-lored Whistler and when I checked out the whiteboard with
its list of recent sightings there was no mention of them. Suzi, one of the
rangers, gave me general directions to find a bird she had heard of on track
8 and with this info I headed out to set up my tent.

My first day, Thursday, was spent exploring the various tracks, bird hides
and walks. The birding was excellent in the morning with birds moving and
calling everywhere and the sun making the fresh growth on the mallee plants
shine with health. A few puddles remained beside the road from recent rains
and I marked these off for future attention.

Friday evening and more people drifted in and one told me that there was a
new listing for Red-lored Whistler on the whiteboard so before first light
on Saturday I was driving back to the visitor centre. The listing was there
but all it said was “seen on track 7”! Track 7 is about 14 kms long! Suzi
came to the rescue though and gave me exact directions to the Red-lored she
knew about, 600 metres in from a star post on track 8. I drove around,
parked, set the GPS, and walked headlong into the mallee bush with the sun
just high enough to give that glorious morning light. At 558 metres I heard
a whistler calling, and there he was, singing in the top of a tree some 20
metres in front of me. I sat down and watched him for about 5 minutes until
he flew off. Then I sat for another hour and watched the locals go about
their business, ants fossicking, skinks browsing on the ants, a lemon yellow
and green dragon fly on the blue-green triodia, honeyeaters coming and going
and thornbills hopping from twig to twig. As I finally walked out Striated
Grasswren were calling and two came up onto a sunlit branch to check me out.

Next morning the whole BA group and a Dutch birder who had arrived headed
out to find the bird again. This time it was only about 200 metres in and
everyone had perfect views as it called from high up, low down, turned this
way and that to make sure everyone had views of all profiles, changed
location so that the sun hit it from different angles and, all in all,
proved to be a total show-off. This was NOT the shy skulker of the thick
mallee scrub that I had read about and was prepared to struggle with. This
bird was no harder to chase down than its cousin, Gilbert’s Whistler.

For the rest of Sunday and Monday I enjoyed the quiet of the bush, found a
group of Black-eared Miners, and waved the last of my fellow campers
farewell. Monday afternoon found me back to check the whiteboard at the
visitors centre and it was then that I found out that there was a 90% chance
of rain forecast. What to do? How much rain? I wanted to stay for at least 2
more nights but this was GLUEPOT, named for what the place becomes after

Suzi told me 10 mm would close the roads. What to do? Compromise of course.
I went back and packed up my camp, had dinner and at about 9 pm I crawled
into bed in the back of the Forester. I awoke to rain at 0340 on Tuesday
morning, not heavy and every now and then it eased off. At 0600 it started
to get serious so I crawled into the drivers seat and headed off to the
visitor centre; if I was going to get stuck at Gluepot I wanted it to be as
near to civilisation as possible. It was still dark and the track between
Bellbird and the visitor centre was totally under water except where it
crossed sand dunes. I steered by the graded edges but the track under the
water was still solid. By 0700 I was parked on the gravel at the visitor
centre having some breakfast and the rain had stopped. There was a patch or
two of faded blue sky between the clouds. Suzi came to tell me that we had
had 8.5 mm. I could still get out.

The track from the visitor centre to the highway was fine with very little
standing water and the sun was stronger so I even had a chance to stop and
birdwatch and take photos of the kangaroos and birds that drank from the
numerous small puddles in the road. I have since heard that the rain started
again later in the day and the track out to the highway had become an all
but impassable river.

Spring this year at Gluepot should be spectacular after all this rain. I for
one will be doing all possible to make sure I am there to see it.

Total species of birds seen on Gluepot during my stay was 57.

Cheers all


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