Saturday, 12 May 2012

A White-eared Monarch and Tawny Frogmouth Day

Having heard of a sighting of a White-eared Monarch in Julatten a few days previously, I decided to go and have a look. Accompanied by my friend Murray, we arrived at the site shortly after 8.30 am. We sat in the vehicle and listened to a recording of the call of the White-eared Monarch a few times as we were both unfamiliar with it. After locking up the vehicle we set off along the dirt road. Almost the first birds we saw, was a small flock of Lovely Fairy-wrens. Try as I might to get a photo of a male in full plumage this was the best shot I could manage.
Lovely Fairy-wren (female)
There were quite a few Grey Fantail and Rainbow Bee-eater about. We also saw Rufous Fantail, Red-browed Finch, Little Shrike-thrush, Silvereye and a Spotted (now Green) Catbird. After about half an hour searching along the road, Murray heard the White-eared Monarch calling. Now the game was on to actually see the bird. These little critters like to forage high in the outer canopy and can be very difficult to see in thick rainforest. We eventually managed to spot one and then another. Goal achieved! Photography at the angle, height and density of foliage for this new photographer however proved impossible. The male Riflebird in the area showed up as usual but would not stay in the same place long enough for a good photo. I will just have to wait for breeding season when he starts to display.

We moved on to Devil Devil Creek to search for honeyeaters. We were rewarded with Yellow Spotted, Graceful, Dusky, Lewin’s, Macleay’s, Brown and Scarlet Honeyeater. We moved on to Mary Farms in search of Australian Bustard. Just on the point of giving up and leaving two birds popped up from the long grass and gave us some great views.
Australian Bustard
Next stop was Mt Carbine. We took a drive through the bush to look at the old mine dam but were disappointed at the lack of bird life on the water. A mining company is processing all the old mining tailings to extract Wolfram (I think?). They have set up a noisy pump at the water’s edge which has scared the birds off. All we saw was one lone Darter and a Little Pied Cormorant. A great pity as this used to be a good spot for Great Crested Grebe. On our route back through the bush we did find Red-tailed Black and Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. We also saw Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Galah, Laughing and Blue Winged Kookaburra.

Grumbling tummy’s signalled lunch time and we headed for the Mt Carbine pub where Nick served up great steak sandwiches and ice cold beer. While discussing what to do for the rest of the day, we decided to take a drive up Mt Spurgeon Road to the McCloud River just for the fun of it. The track has become very rough after the wet season with some rather tricky spots. We stopped at a good vantage point where we could look down on Mt Carbine and the mine. 
Mt Carbine mine from the view point
While sitting here admiring the view we heard Spotted Pardalote calling and were lucky enough to have them pass right by where we were sitting. Where was my camera? In the vehicle of course! I noticed Murray scrounging around at the base of the rock I was sitting on. After a few minutes he popped up with a plastic bottle. This apparently was a “geo-cache”(?). People hide things all over the world and put the co-ordinates on the internet and then others go looking for them, fill in the logbook in the bottle and then say on the internet that they have found them.
When we reached the McCloud River, which is in a National Park, we found a bunch of rednecks in 4x4 utility vehicles camping on the bank of the river with their pig dogs. We did not hang around long as the noise from their stereo was deafening!  What is the point of going to a quiet spot like this and listening to loud music?
Back down the track we visited the Mt Carbine caravan park to have a look at the Tawny Frogmouth usually roosting in the trees near the reception area. It did not disappoint and I managed to get a few good photos. 
Tawny Frogmouth

There were so many Apostlebirds around the place it looked as if there had been an invasion!  Tired and happy with the day’s adventure we headed home.

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