… VERY HARD – and blew, VERY VERY HARD.
On Sunday morning (30/05) I woke up at 0600 to get ready for the Eden
pelagic and realised it was not going to happen. The wind was howling
through the gum trees. The man on the local ABC radio station said children
should be kept inside; the Princes Highway was closed by fallen trees; no
one should go near the beach. We were in the middle of multiple East Coast
Lows. Wind gusts, he said, were exceeding 130 km per hour – this was the
force of a category 2 cyclone, he said. Some years ago, he said, the bulk
carrier Pasha Bulka was blown ashore by an East Coast Low. There would be no
petrels or prions on my bird list this weekend. Two kangaroos huddled under
the eaves of the house, seeking a little shelter. I considered a coast watch
at Greencape but the rain was horizontal. I went back to bed.
At about 1100 I took a cup of tea and went and sat out on the veranda. There
were white caps on the lake and breakers on its shore. A single Lewin’s
honeyeater called from somewhere inside the bush. Small branches let go of
their trees and flew across the sky. Leaves were going past like a flock of
small birds. A Sea-eagle flew down-wind like a Concord jet, silver-grey
against the lead grey sky. Then some five minutes later it came gracefully
back against the wind, gliding, not flapping, but at half the speed. A
tree-creeper called but this was all I heard above the howl of the wind.
This was so different from yesterday. Down at Watergum Creek I sat in the
sun and watched Bell Miners feeding on large black ants that were trying to
cross the road. A lyrebird stood on his mound and shimmered his tail of
cinnamon lyres and white filaments while singing a multitude of birds from
his mouth. Two Pilotbirds came up and sat on a sun-lit branch, just 2 metres
from me, and watched me watch them. A Whipbird bounced in across the
clearing, crest erect, and turned leaves and twigs as it looked for a feed.
Back at the house four Wonga Pigeons wandered across the lawn, occasionally
snatching a fat worm from the soggy grass. The Yellow Robins hopped about in
the bush beside the shed and a small flock of Red-browed Finch were feeding
in a nearby Grevillia. Pied Currawongs called in alarm as I walked down the
hill. At the end of the jetty an Azure Kingfisher glittered in the sun and a
pair of grey-morph Eastern Reef Egrets strutted down the oyster-leases
searching for small fish in the shade of umbrella wings. Interestingly the
parrots, that are normally common, were absent. There were no rosellas, no
King Parrots, no Rainbow Lorikeets and very few Yellow-tailed Black
Saturday night I found that a small scrub-tick had joined me as I watched
the lyrebird and was feeding on my hip. Looking at my photos I saw that one
had also joined one of the Pilotbirds and was feeding beside its left eye,
its backside protruding above the feathers.
It just goes to show. When you set out for a weekend of bird watching you
just never know what is going to happen.
And how hard did it rain? When I came to leave on Monday there was 1 metre
of water over the road at the Watergum Creek, and I turned back for another
night at Wonboyn Lake.
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