Friday, November 17, 2017

Black-breasted Bogey No More

For my non-birder readers, a bogey bird is a bird that has eluded you for an inordinately long time. It is a bird into which you have put a lot of effort and still have not been able to find. It is also sometimes called a nemesis bird. It is usually a bird most of your friends have seen, but you have not. A bogey bird is also not normally a rare bird, but it is rare for you. My biggest, badest, bogey was the Black-breasted Button-quail. It is indeed not an easy bird for anyone. But Lynn and I put in 6 full days birding Inskip Point, a well know spot for them, in June 2016 without success. They had been seen four days before we arrived, and they were seen a couple weeks after we had gone. Bogey created.

So time passed and my friend Karen Weil traveled to Noosa National Park north of Brisbane in October. She went out with my Facebook friend and birding photography guide, Matt Wright, and saw, yep, a Black-breasted Button-quail (BBBQ). I knew I had to go and try. I mean I really had no choice. Such can be the power of a bogey bird.

I contacted my birding friend and traveling partner, Robert Shore, and we decided we could meet Matt in South East Queensland (SEQ) to look for the bird on 10 November. It is almost two thousand kilometers from the Tiny House. I began pulling Troopi and myself together for a ten-day road trip. See the blog before this one regarding my heading off in Troopi by myself. Well, I am getting better at it.

Leaving Monday morning 6 November, I moved along north fairly quickly. I over-nighted in West Wyalong, NSW and Bendemeer, NSW, and then I pressed on to Dayboro, QLD. Robert and I were going to meet at the campground there. Since we had a day before going with Matt, we had arranged to go looking for King Quail with Marie Tarrant in her local patch on Thursday morning. That would also be a Life Bird for us both. 

We met Marie at 6am and began walking the paths through the tall grassy areas by Lake Samsonvale. After only a half hour or so (and seeing several Brown Quail), a small, dark quail flushed off the path, flew by us and went down into the deep grass and began calling. King Quail! John Weigel had told me to prepare myself for seeing a “flying blue potato” and that is precisely what it looked like. Gratefully, we had good views of the potato as it went past. We walked a bit into the tall grasses and listened to it calling to another King Quail while literally somewhere around our feet. We did not see it again, but I was thrilled. That was my first Lifer in quite a while.

We needed to help Marie tow her vehicle to the auto repair guy. It had one wheel that would freeze up. It was a bit of an adventure, but we were successful in the end.

Then Robert and I went to a caravan park in Maroochy River, QLD. Matt would be collecting us there at 5:30am the next morning. Gratefully, Queensland is not on daylight savings time, so to us that felt like 6:30am. I woke up at 3am and could not go back to sleep. Yes, I was excited.

Matt drove us to Noosa NP. It is a beautiful place. We were there before 6:30 and it was already a mad house of people. We eventually found a parking spot as someone was leaving. There were surfers, joggers, beach-goers, tourists and hikers in a constant stream on the path. Unbelievably, Matt said that the weekends there are much busier. Ugh. We wound our way through the people up to the area where Matt had been finding the BBBQ. It was a long and uphill trudge, but adrenaline was high and expectations were as well. It was at least a kilometer and a half to the trail where we would be searching.

Once there, Matt said that it could take ten minutes or three hours, but this was where he had been seeing them. We began looking along the 200 or so meters of track. We did not see any. We did see fresh platelets (the round, bare spots on the ground created by their feeding) and were encouraged. An hour passed, and then two, still with no BBBQ, and then three hours. I began having PTSD from my Inskip Point experience. I was stressed. This was hard birding. All of my Zen-like beliefs about experiencing the bird and enjoying the quest were going to hell in a handcart. I could not dip on this bird again. I continued up and down that track looking (later at the car, my Fitbit showed I had walked over 15 kilometers). The three of us scattered out along the trail as hopes began to fade a little.

Out of the blue, Robert declared, “I think we are going to find it.” He had been sitting on the edge of the track and I sat down in his spot as he wandered off. Just a few minutes later, Matt burst around the corner saying “We’ve got them!” I literally began running before I had stood all the way up. Robert said I looked like a cartoon character whose legs spin before it gets going. I was falling and running at the same time toward where Robert had just seen them. After only a few moments of trying to relocate them, Matt said, “Bruce! There!” And I was looking at not one, not two, but three male BBBQ’s wandering around in the scrub. Amazing. Wondrous. Thrilling. They began making platelets for God’s sake! They were right there. They seemed utterly oblivious to our presence as they went about their Button-quail ways. It had taken four hours, but we had done it. Bogey no more. I was, and am, as grateful as I can be.

Making a platelet... amazing
Robert, me and Matt... the Bogey BIrd Lifer Selfie back in the car park

Lifer high reverberated through me as we walked back to the car. What a feeling. After a lovely lunch, we spent the rest of the day and into the night, birding and then mammaling. By the end of the day, my Fitbit said I had walked 22 kilometers. I was exhausted, but what a day, a glorious day. Below are a Powerful Owl youngster and a Sugar Glider from our night time hike.

Cute as

I highly recommend Matt Wright as a guide. His contact info is on his website: Faunagraphic and his Facebook page: Faunagraphic Facebook

We awoke Saturday morning sore, tired and aching and then realized that we were only a little over 3 hours from O’Reilly’s and Lamington National Park. To be continued…

Sending much love from the Tiny House.

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