Sunday, February 28, 2016

Meeting of Two Oceans

For those of you playing along at home, I have made two maps roughly showing our route for the first month from Torquay, VIC, to here in Augusta, WA. I did not include every stop, as Google Maps has it limitations. You can only add so many places before it won’t let you put in any more. But I reckon this captures the flow of it pretty well (note the stretch from Madura, WA to Perth for our Triple Twitch). So far it has been about five thousand kilometers of awesome traveling, some phenomenal places and scenery, and some sweet birds. I am grateful.

We’ve been down to look at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse here a couple of times. The Rock Parrots have not been home lately. They are known to hang out on the grass of the lighthouse grounds, but according to the caretakers, they have been missing for a couple of weeks. We saw Rock Parrots back on Kangaroo Island, but we’d love to see more.

There was a novel written about a fictitious lighthouse based on this real one. It is called, “The Light Between Oceans” and Lynn had read it about four years ago. She said she never dreamed she would actually be here. Spielberg has made a movie of the novel, but he filmed it in New Zealand, not here (exchange rates rule). The real (and fictitious) lighthouse marks the point between the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean, hence the name of the novel.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (I certain could have chosen a better angle for the photo, there is no ocean in it).

Rocks at the edge of the Indian Ocean
We have had three nights here, pausing to catch our breath a bit. Something I am not good at, but I know we need. Yesterday, Lynn was able to spend much of the day sitting in the shade overlooking the water and reading. She loves that. I wonder what book she was reading, and if one day we are going to end up where it takes place. Who knows.

But for today we head slowly along our way north toward more awesome places and wonderful birds. I am so deeply grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love.

Friday, February 26, 2016

New Dear Friends, New Wonderful Birds

After about two days, the rains did stop in Cheynes Beach, but it was time for us to move on. Although that morning I had one more look at the Noisy Scrub-bird!

See the white throat and his eye? That's a Noisy Scrub-bird!
They seem to run sort of hunched over.
We packed up our dampness and headed west. We made a quick stop by Waychinicup National Park, a ridiculously beautiful place.

So beautiful that we considered spending a night there, but we wanted to get over to see our friends in Denmark (Western Australia, not the country) and so we did. It was wonderful meeting Lily and Mike in person. We had become virtual friends with Lily through the Facebook. (Those who think FB is just a waste of time, do not understand how to use it. It can grow new friendships and deepen existing ones. I am very grateful for it). I could not have liked them more if I had created them out of my own imagination. They are just that wonderful. We spent the night at their home and got our lifer Western Rosella off their deck. We also had a delicious home-cooked meal and just visited. I am very grateful!

Lily and Mike (and Lynn and me and Bluff Knoll).
The gorgeousness of a Western Rosella

Australian Ringneck "Twenty-Eight" (a name referring to its call).

The next morning we all went up to the Stirling Range NP. We took separate vehicles as Lynn and I would be staying at the Stirling Range Retreat Caravan Park. On the way over we got our lifer Red-capped Parrots (which we would see several more times out there). We birded a bit around the caravan park area with Mike and Lily, as well as going out to Bluff Knoll and a few other spots. Then Lynn and I had a nice Lifer Supper at the Bluff Knoll Café (Western Rosella, Red-capped Parrot, Western Thornbill and the western subspecies of the Crested Shrike-tit). I am so very grateful. Here are a bunch of photos...
The amazingly colorful Red-capped Parrot 
Playing hide and seek
I just like this photo. The bokeh background turned out very cool.
This is Ms Red-capped Parrot
Elegant Parrot in a paddock
Young Elegant Parrot in a tree       

Western subspecies of the Crested Shrike-tit. Hopefully its own species soon. This one had just had a bath. 
Western Corellas!

Yesterday we decided to go south to the coast since the north and inland forecast was for 40C for Saturday. Thanks to a tip from our new friend Peter Taylor, we picked up our lifer Western Corella on our way toward Augusta! I am grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheynes Beach, Western Australia

Like many Birders in Oz, I had heard of Cheynes Beach (just a heads-up, the locals pronounce it, “Chains” Beach).
I am sitting in that tent as I write this.
iPhone shot down the back of the Caravan Park. 

Close by the caravan park here it is possible to see three famous skulking birds. One, the Western Whipbird, Lynn and I had been fortunate enough to find on Kangaroo Island. The other two are Noisy Scrub-bird and Western Bristlebird. The range map of both are small, but the NOSB’s range is tiny. We needed to get it here. Seeing this bird is a fairly well known process. One positions themselves on this particular gravel road just around the corner from the caravan park and listens, watches, and waits to see if the Noisy Scrub-bird makes a dash across the road. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
See that little green spot? That is where we are.
The first evening here we gave it a go without success. Our new friends Alan and Wendy, who had seen it before, accompanied us. We had experienced birders with us, but it was not to be, the road remained empty. As we were returning to the caravan park, we heard a NOSB close to the sealed road. We went closer. It was closer. I have never, ever, heard a bird that close, that I could not see. Not even the Yellow-billed Kingfisher in Cape York. This bird had to be at our feet. Not just in front of us, but there with us and yet we were on the edge of the road and could not see it. It was surreal. Finally it moved further in and we went to supper. I was grateful just to know for sure they were around.

Lynn and I were down there again early the next morning and it was weirdly quiet. Almost none were calling and they were not near the road. We did tick the Red-winged Fairy-wren there and had a lovely morning in general. Later that afternoon, Wendy and Alan joined us again for a NOSB vigil. This time we were successful! We saw two on the road fairly far down the track close to where Alan had walked to watch. One dashed across, then one ran halfway and back again. We walked down to him and one ran very obligingly across closer behind us, giving us much better views (we are still talking seconds). Yes, we had it! Sweet! I am very grateful.

Red-winged Fairy-wren
Noisy Scrub-bird Lifer Selfie with our new friends, Alan and Wendy taken at the end of the famous, gravel road.
Early Monday morning (before we had even brushed our teeth), Lynn and I headed off to look for the Bristlebird. We had read in our “Finding Australian Birds” what track was recommended for them. We had also checked the folders of birder’s lists and notes that they keep at the office here. As we walked we heard one or two, but they seemed to go quiet quickly. After about forty-five minutes, we had one calling, and it kept calling and we found it! It was ridiculously spot-on to the place indicated in the book. The light was pretty bad (the bird was straight toward the sun), but I was grateful to see it and to get some recording shots, very grateful indeed.
Western Bristlebird, yes! Into the sun in bad lighting, but I am grateful!

As I moved to get a better angle so did the bird. 
We have had some wonderful birds here. Other Lifers have included the awesome Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos, the Western Wattlebird, the stupid-beautiful Red-eared Firetail, the cute as White-breasted Robin and the very busy Western Spinebill. We have another day and night here and hope to see a few more birds and maybe see the Scrub-bird again. It has been raining a lot since yesterday and we are finding that there are issues with the front canvas on Troopi’s pop-top. Whatever, we will deal with it and all will be well. I am so grateful.

At times it is not comfortable on many levels, but this is being alive, and live I will. I am not yet ready for the alternative. So, I am very grateful, even when I am not. Here are some more photos from Cheynes Beach, WA.

Ms and Mr. Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos chatting.

Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos are a daily sight here. 
The not so common colors on a Common Bronzewing. There are both Common and Brush here.
The OMG beautiful, Red-eared Firetail. 

White-breasted Robin by our tent.
A scruffy looking Western Spinebill
A little better one...

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Triple Twitch In WA!

We were about two-thirds across the Nullarbor when we decided to go for the Eurasian Hobby and the Oriental Honey-buzzard near Perth. That was Monday. We drove to Western Australia on Tuesday and then on to a little town 2 hours from Perth on Wednesday. We were on the road before 6am Thursday heading for the Honey-buzzard location! I was excited and grateful.

And then about 45 minutes from our destination the orange warning light lit up on the dash. Something was wrong with our girl. She had no power, barely enough to drive (it took ages to get up to speed on the freeway). But we made it to the Honey-buzzard site and with the invaluable help of our new friend Damian, we saw the buzzard! I had glorious scope views as I followed it across the far side of the lake. Then I got on the phone and found a diesel repair place who could look at Troopi that morning.

We got her there by 10am and they plugged into her computer (don’t get me started, I wanted an older vehicle, please do not comment on that) and found that her accelerator pedal was malfunctioning. It actually has electronics inside it that control the speed. They could replace it and the part would arrive by 3:30pm. In the mean time, Troopi had somehow recovered her powers, so we went off to look for the Eurasian Hobby about 40 minutes away. Damian was already there with our other new friend, Peter. No Hobby yet. Then after about only fifteen minutes, it flew directly over us to perch in full view in a tree across the street. Sweet! It was one of the most awesome twitches I have ever had. Grateful does not cover it.

Eurasian Hobby!

With a detour to tick a Mute Swan (a plastic, I know) we headed back to the repair place. On the way, Damian texted and alerted us to the Eurasian Curlew that had been seen and confirmed two hours south in Bunbury. The new accelerator pedal arrived early, they installed it, tested it and we were on our way. We were also heading into the beginnings of Perth rush hour traffic. But we arrived in Bunbury just before 6pm, got a campsite and collapsed.

Yesterday morning we drove down to the point where the Eurasian Curlew had been seen the day before and seen again in the evening. We had hopes as we began searching the mudflats and sandbars. We met Peter Taylor and he joined us, or visa versa, and we kept looking. I had walked out onto the point of a sandbar and was scoping back across and saw a lighter, whiter curlew. I yelled to Lynn and Peter, “I have a candidate!” just as they both waved to me that they were seeing what they thought was the bird. It was the bird, and we had all gotten on it at the same time. Sweet! “Lifer high” ensued and we had a blast watching it, seeing it fly and taking way too many photos… it was wonderful. It had become a Triple Twitch! I am so grateful!
Eurasian Curlew!

We reluctantly left the curlew and headed east. We decided to stop at Manjimup, Peter Taylor’s hometown, where he had seen Baudin’s Black-cockatoos feeding in the marri trees. We stayed in the caravan park under and by those trees and this morning before I had my coffee, I had beheld Baudin’s! We also picked up western ticks here of Gilbert’s Honeyeater (Western White-naped) and the Western Whistler. Man, this is fun. I am stupid-grateful! Now I will try and sort some photos to go with this blog and get it posted. Cheers and much gratitude from the far side of the far side!
I believe this is Ms Baudin's Black-cockatoo.
And this is Mr. Baudin's Black-cockatoo. 

My first view... I was thrilled.        
Western Whistler (the black band is thinner than the eastern one).
Gilbert's Honeyeater

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.