Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Part 5 - My 1000th bird.

 I awoke to an empty tent. Peeking my head out of the door I took in the inside of the Abattoir Swamp viewing blind. I noted that the snake that had kept us company the previous evening had departed for greener pastures. It was time for us to do the same. Our next stop was the famous Kingfisher Park which held untold promises of birding glory!

Of course this glory is only rewarded to the folks that rise early with the sun and exhibit an unquenchable determination to overcome any and all obstacles between them and their sought after query. When I went to find Nicole she had already snagged 2 lifers in Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Blue-winged Kookaburra. Clearly I'd have to pick up my game at this most important of stages.

Rolling along the road with open fields on either side, the forest was not at first obvious tucked back from the road. Upon turning off, the park's welcome sign  and forest rose to greet us. Excitement began to build. As we inched along the dirt road to the park office, we barely had to wait 10 seconds for the first of many amazing and incredible birds to appear from the forest. We didn't need to guess at which species we were looking at; the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher was instantly recognizable with its striking colors, absurd tail feather, and its face on the park's welcome sign!

We make it to the park office despite ourselves, and hopping out, and are promptly greeted by another new bird, the cheery Pale-yellow Robin.

Still not having made it to the front door I look up to behold the exquisite Yellow-breasted Boatbill, a diminutive flycatcher with striking black and yellow plumage. I frantically get Nicole on the bird before it disappears into the canopy.

I will now pause this story to inform you, my dear reader, that the Yellow-breasted Boatbill was my 1000th bird species in life. There exists an adage in the birding community along the lines of : "No one but yourself cares about your bird list, not even your own mother." Perhaps that is entirely true, but seeing as this is my blog, I will bore you with the details and give you permission to take this moment to google the bird in question. Despite this auspicious milestone, I was not immediately aware that I had reached it, only vaguely cognizant that I was hovering around the 1000 marker. Anyway, there you have it folks, I had seen approximately 1/10 of the worlds bird species.

Back to the story. The formalities were taken care of so off we went with one of the owners, who graciously agreed to point out where there was a roosting Papuan Frogmouth. If you think the name sounds strange, wait till you see the bird. Bizarre and otherworldly spring to mind, and all together quite fascinating!

The rest of the day was quite incredible. We stalked the elusive Red-necked Crake, waited patiently for the Macleay's Honeyeater to eat its fruit offerings, and watched the comical Orange-footed Scrubfowl poke around in the leaf litter. I came within a foot of stepping on  Red-bellied Black Snake which bolted away faster then I have ever seen a snake move. Definitely a very shy snake considering its potent venom! We even outdid ourselves by having a proper shower for a change.
*Bird photos are Nicole's.*

Red-browed Crake in the undergrowth
Orange-footed Scrubfowl strutting down the road

Mr. Expert Guide also showed up to have a chat with the park owners. Our favorite Aussie birder even asked us where we had slept the night before. I still don't know why I lied, but I did. I quickly said, oh the park outside Mt. Molloy. In truth, as you well know, we had spent it in the viewing blind. I suspect he knew as well, having mentioned something about seeing our car in the parking lot after dark! Mr. I forget your name, I'm sorry I lied. I guess I felt slightly embarrassed and was caught off guard.

At least that night we had a nice patch of grass at the park to place our tents and rest up for our big day to Mt. Lewis the following morning. It promised to be a doozy. Stay tuned!

The tents!

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