More fun at O'Reilly's
Oct 23, 2013
|A "Lyre" with "pants" on fire
We met Grace, Sonja and Bill at 5:30 for some pre-breakfast birding in previously traveled trails. One target bird was the Noisy Pitta, one was Albert's Lyrebird and then anything not previously observed was also desirable. We had one new species, the Brown Cuckoo-Dove and we again heard the Pitta without even a glimpse. We hit the jackpot on the Lyrebird! We had two Lyrebirds, one a male displaying even though the season was wrong. He was displaying when we found him, we watched him display for a good 15 minutes and he was still at it when we finally headed back to breakfast. The displaying consists of raising his white plume-like tail feathers clear up around his head and shaking his entire body. An auditory add-on is accomplished by loudly clacking, crashing, shaking vines and sticks. At times it sounded like branches were falling from trees.
One would think that the all-day birding excursion at different elevations and habitats would be anti-climatic, but such was not the case! We drove on mostly dirt four-wheel drive roads from the rain forest, through the Eucalyptus forest and into the agriculture valleys below. Among the Eucalyptus trees, there were many Grass Trees, probably simultaneously everyone's most unusual plant and also their favorite tree. These "trees" grow about 1mm-1cm per year. Some trees we saw were over 2000 years old. We stopped often to bird and we're adding trip and life birds seemingly at every bend. Everywhere we left the bus seemed to have many birds calling. We certainly should expect this as it is spring here in the Southern Hemisphere.
One "adventure" for the day was a trek to look for Glossy Black Cockatoos which had been heard. The Glossy Black Cockatoos are neither Glossy nor Black. Three of the men went thrashing through the "bush" up a hill to try herd these birds down the hill where the rest of us could see them. When it was all said and done, the Cockatoos flew a different direction and we only got fleeting glimpses of them off in the distance.
Marilyn's Australian Bird App on her iPhone often made the difference in getting an already heard bird to show itself at the edge of the foliage and a couple times Glen, our guide actually resorted to trying to herd birds toward our group. Highlights included Glossy Black Cockatoo, Long-billed Corella, Superb and Red-backed Fairy－wrens and a pair of nesting Brown Falcons with chicks visible in their nest. We made several stops at ponds late in the day, so today's list is peppered with shore birds/water birds. We returned to O'Reilly's well after dark and were the last guests to be seated for dinner. We are beat, but thrilled with one of our top birding days ever! In addition to great views of many beautiful birds, we were treated to bird calls and songs all day long.
Mammal notes： For the second dinner in a row we had Mountain Brushtail Possums come to the feeding station just outside the dining room windows. These animals, about the size on a large cat, are much more pleasant-looking than the possums found in the USA! We've also seen Red-necked and Pretty Face Wallabies, Red-necked and Red-legged Pademelons (slightly larger than a wallaby and smaller than a kangaroo) and Eastern Grey Kangaroos. No koalas yet, though we've tried desperately to spot one when we've been in the correct habit.
Noxious plant notes: All the driving through the "bush"/forest took us past some of Queensland's noxious plants. I can't seem to get away from noxious weeds/plants no matter where I go. I was able to resist working at pulling them....(inside story...I [Marilyn] spent much of this past summer pulling, spraying, and digging noxious weeds in our neighborhood and in town.)
Wednesday, October 23, 2013. A morning hike to Morans Waterfall
After some early morning birding and breakfast, we were off for a hike part way down the mountain for a beautiful walk through the bush/forest, birding along the way, with a destination of an overlook to the west and also down and over to Morans Falls. Only one new bird, but it was nice to walk at a hiking pace rather than at "birding pace."
Tomorrow we leave our 3000' high mountain retreat at 5am, with a 2 hour drive to the Brisbane Airport and a 4 hour flight to the hot and steamy locale of Darwin at the "Top End" of Australia.