Sunday, June 24, 2012


Continuing on our travels, back in late February, we took a detour south to Terrick Terrick National Park in northern Victoria. The main purpose was to look for the Plains Wanderer, a rare and endangered endemic that is found in the protected grasslands in this area. We were unlucky in our quest to find this elusive bird, and I was doubly unlucky in losing a fairly new pair of prescription glasses when we were spotlighting for it along the back roads one night.  
The park is actually named after Mt Terrick Terrick, also known as Mitiamo Rock, a 95 metre high granite outcrop below which we camped.   

Looking across the park from Mitiamo Rock

Sunset from the Rock

Terrick Terrick Galah

The weather here was hot reaching 38 degrees so we only stayed a couple of nights and headed back to the Murray where it was quite a bit cooler on the banks of the river, which was very slowly rising thanks to the record rainfall in the catchment area further upstream.  

Sailboat on the Murray at Christie's Beach

The "sailor" Jeff,  joined us for a cuppa at our campsite after we yelled out to ask him if his was the same boat we saw the week before at Barmah Lakes. It turned out it was and next morning I spent a couple of hours out on the water with him experiencing the thrill of sailing on a stretch of Australia's longest river.

Heading back to shore

Watching a Murray sunset

Grey Teal on a park lake in Echuca

On our second night at Christie's Beach campground we had a huge downpour and hadn't realized the van was in a dip until we woke the next morning to find some of our gear floating around outside.

More water views

The gum tree below was one of a few we saw in nearby Millewa Regional Park just over the border in NSW. The contrasting patterns of the bark caught my eye, but I couldn't find anything similar when trawling the web for identification.

Eucalypt sp.

Close-up of  trunk

Friday, June 15, 2012


Back on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, while we wait for repairs to our caravan which threw a wheel in our haste to get home last month. Our insurance company, as well as paying for the repairs are accommodating us for the duration. So a chance to do a bit of local bird watching had us wandering along the foreshore at Golden Beach where the opportunity to photograph a few was too hard to resist.

Little Egret

Little Pied Cormorant

Not being a wader expert I had some difficulty identifying the bird below, but after consulting my field guides and comparing my photos and movie footage with some internet examples, I'm thinking Grey-tailed Tattler. I have seen them before but only in groups with other roosting waders. This one was a loner and quite actively feeding. Any thoughts?

Grey-tailed Tattler?

Sacred Kingfisher

Willie Wagtail

We are currently residing in a small holiday house at Bli Bli not far from the local attractions of Mt  Coolum and Maroochydore and only a short walk from the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary where we strolled along the boardwalk to the sounds of whistlers, honeyeaters and gerygones. 

Mt Coolum

Maroochy River & Maroochydore

These Ibis were about the most conspicious birds in the wetlands, the smaller bush birds staying mostly out of camera range. We also got a glimpse of a lovely female Shining Flycatcher, a resident of the mangrove wetlands here but not always easy to find.  

White Ibis

The flycatcher photos below are courtesy of Ian Montgomery's wonderful website:  To the uninitiated they seem like two different species, so pronounced is their sexual dimorphism. Besides being found along the coast of Queensland their range also includes New Guinea and Indonesia.  

Shining Flycatcher - female (photo - I.Montgomery) 

Shining Flycatcher - male (photo - I.Montgomery)

Close by to the Sanctuary is a small lake that usually has a few waterbirds on it and this day, besides the Black Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal were a couple of small groups of Whistling-Ducks, giving me a great opportunity to compare the two species at close range. Both are fantastic birds that always give me a thrill whenever I hear and then see a large flock flying overhead. They seem to have become a lot more prevalent on the Sunshine coast over the last decade. 

Plumed & Wandering Whistling-Ducks

Wandering Whistling-Ducks  

Wandering & Plumed Whistling-Ducks

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I've been posting updates from our recent travels which were curtailed in early May when we rushed
back from Western Australia to see my Mum who had become suddenly ill and sadly passed away a few days after our return. She was 88 and had lived a full and mostly happy life. We miss her greatly. 

I don't think I ever told her but in a round about way she was one of the main reasons I became interested in birds and subsequently, nature in general. You see, she and Dad loved their cuppas and one day she tried out a brand of leaf tea that came with an Australian bird card to collect. A beautiful illustration on one side and some pertinent facts on the other. None of my siblings were remotely interested but I was and she must have noticed my interest. That was her tea of choice from then on and over the years as a young boy I collected three albums of these wonderful gems. I still have them over 40 years later. Thanks Mum!  

Grietje Kooistra 1923 - 2012

I wrote this poem as a tribute to my beloved Mother.


It’s hard to say in words
Our feelings for you Mum
You know that we loved you
And now this day has come

We remember you with fondness
Your loud and hearty laugh
The smile that brightened up the room
Even when times were rough

Tough as nails you were too
And stubborn as a mule
You said it like you saw it
And did not suffer fools

You didn’t mind a smoke or two
And really enjoyed a party
Days of Our Lives your favourite show
Nothing too arty-farty

You often craved your sweet treats
And loved your bikkies and tea
Baked your famous honeycake
To share with everybody

 You were such a house-proud mother
Worked hard to raise six kids
Stood by Dad through thick and thin
Loved us no matter what we did

The family were your pride and joy
You nurtured us for years
And helped us through our lives
With all our hopes and fears

You suffered many torments Mum
Dementia, depression and cancer
But your humour always shone through
It seems you had the answer

Maybe you were down to earth
But we know you believed in heaven
Your faith in God was very strong
You’ll be with him, that’s a given

It’s time for us to let you go
May your spirit soar high and free
We know you’ll be in a peaceful place
That we cannot yet see 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


After leaving Jindabyne we headed to Victoria via Tumut. Along the highway we pulled up to observe the damage the huge bushfires of 2003 had wreaked on great swathes of the foothills and mountains.  

A devastated landscape

This is similar to what it would have looked like before the fires. It will take up to one hundred years to get back to its former glory.

View from Black Perry Lookout

At one of our camping spots in northern Victoria we spotted this wallaby browsing on some low growing shrubs.

Swamp Wallaby

Our first camp on the Murray River was at Greenbank Reserve near Yarrawonga, well clear of the River Red Gums that have a habit of dropping limbs at any time. 

We had some nice views from our front yard. 

And some noisy visitors dropped by for some human watching. These corellas were in flocks numbering hundreds, their raucous calls heard all day as they moved up and down the river. They are the cheekiest of parrots and I love watching their antics.  

Little Corellas

Another of the parrot family that we observed nearby was this rosella, nowhere near as obtrusive as the former but a bit more colourful.

Eastern Rosella

Our next stop was Barmah Lakes campground where for a day and night we had the place to ourselves. The next day a large group of school kids came in for a spot of camping and canoeing,
reminding us a bit of the recent corellas, but not as cute! 

River Red Gums at Barmah Lakes

The bird life here wasn't prolific either but I was able to snap a couple of shots of woodland species. The first a superb vocalist that is always a delight to hear. The second a bird that spends almost as much time foraging on the ground as in the trees.

Grey Shrike-Thrush

Brown Treecreeper

We also came across the burnt out remains of this massive Red Gum on one of our walks. 

Clare in gum