VicTwitch 2010 update - Mallee

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: VicTwitch 2010 update - Mallee
From: Paul G Dodd <>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2010 21:39:21 +1100
On Christmas morning we headed off bright and early for Sunset Country. A quick 
stop at Lake Tyrell near Sealake to look for Crimson Chats yielded nothing. 
Similarly, a run along the road to the north of Hattah to look for Red-backed 
Kingfishers also came up empty. Not to be discouraged we headed for 
Murray-Sunset National Park, and our overnight accommodation at Shearers Hut, 
where we'd been told of a possible Red-backed Kingfisher.

From Red Cliffs, north of Hattsh, we headed along the Millewa Road and 
eventually met up with North-South Settlement Road. We headed south towards the 
Shearers Hut and all was going well until we saw some water on the track. We 
approached the suspect part of the road with caution to see if it was passable, 
but alas no - there was no way through. I decided to back out, but putting the 
car in reverse achieved absolutely nothing - we were stuck fast! I tried 
rocking the car backwards and forwards, but no effect. The mud was so thick and 
so slippery, all four wheels just span. We tried digging the car out, we 
collected branches and brush and put them under the wheels - no go. After 
exhausting ourselves for four hours, I called RACV who said they couldn't help 
- but they recommended calling the SES. I gave them a call and they said 
someone would be in contact. I wasn't too hopeful because it was now 7:30pm on 
Christmas night.

We decided we'd be camping by a very bogged car for Christmas... Dinner was 
from a can, but we figured we shouldn't have any of our wine in case help came 
that evening (it didn't). The following morning we had our coffee and baked 
beans and settled down to wait. Eventually a couple of Parks Rangers arrived at 
about 11am and snatched us free! It turned out that one of the Rangers, 
Danielle, was someone I had spoken to earlier in the year because she had seen 
Bustards in western Wyperfeld at Easter.

Oh, best bird at the bog site was a Black Falcon, by the way.

We decided to abandon Shearers Hut (for now) and went to Ned's Corner. We 
thoroughly explored the area, but if truth be known we were only interested in 
one species - Inland Dotterel - which we got on Ned's Corner Road around 
9:30pm. We *did* keep a look out for Black-breasted Buzzard, Letter-winged Kite 
and Grey Falcon, but no luck with those!

The following morning, our confidence somewhat restored, we went to Shearers 
Hut, where we spent the night. No sign of Red-backed Kingfisher, but we did 
manage patchy mobile coverage, and I managed to discover that a Red-backed 
Kingfisher had been seen at Hattah! So we duly headed off, back to Hattah.

We'd been tipped-off that the kingfisher had been seen on the Konardin Track, 
so we drove (slowly) back and forth along that track until lunchtime, with no 
success. It's not possible to have a Hattah birding trip without lunch of a ham 
and salad roll and a Ginger beer at the General Store. After lunch we met up 
with our friends Fiona Parkin and Jon Thornton and managed to convince them to 
help us. We started the track again, and stopped at a "likely looking" spot 
(there was a nice looking tree hollow and a Rainbow Bee-eater!) As we wandered 
around, Jon (who refuses to use binoculars) said, "What's that bird? It looks 
remarkably like a kingfisher to me..." Sure enough, a Red-backed Kingfisher! 
Making 386 for VicTwitch 2010.

We left Hattah and headed to Ouyen. Our plan was to drive the Murrayville Track 
in Big Desert to look for Bustards, but we figured at 4pm it was a bit late in 
the day. We decided to overnight in Ouyen, but not before spending a few hours 
searching northern Wyperfeld for Crimson Chats - unfortunately no luck.

Big Desert, Telopea Downs looking for Bustard tomorrow. Probably overnighting 
at Portland and looking for Masked Owl. A little seabird watching from Cape 
Nelson before heading back to Lorne to look for Masked Owls. During the last 
two days of the year we'll also try looking for another missing species - 
Baillon's Crake.

Paul Dodd & Ruth Woodrow
Currently at Ouyen

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