Friday, April 30, 2010

BEYOND GULGONG - Wednesday 28/4/2010

The alarm went off for another 5.30am rise and the temperature outside the van was a cool 4 degrees C. The twenty minute drive from Gulgong to work allowed me to catch up on the news, bad as always. Greece had gone bust so there goes the super-fund again. I finished work at 2.00pm and, with the van in tow, headed for Wellington. A drive around the town and a stop at the visitors centre had me persuaded to drive the 20 kilometres out to Burrendong Dam and camp there for the night. This was close to the Burrendong Arboretum, (used to be known as Botanic Gardens before they found this fancy name), were I hoped to go and photograph birds the next day. I managed to photograph my first bird for the trip when we arrived at the dam. I was so excited to get a Common Noisy Miner. I now know that the quality of birds has to improve.

Next morning we explored Lake Burrendong leaving the van in the camping area. All roads led to the water and in the chill of the morning, the mist rose from the water like steam, and the low fog in the distance shrouded the hills on the other side of the lake with only the tops showing above this white fluffy roll. Red rumpled parrots and crested pigeons search the ground for grass seed while Apostle birds walked around displaying and calling with their raucous voices.

Happy with our exploration of the lake we set out to the Burrendong Arboretum and Botanic gardens heading for two small dams where we hoped to find birds. Australian Grebes fought over territory in one of the dams while the same birds lived in harmony in the second. Fairy wrens and finches were present on the sides of the dams sifting the grasses for insects and seeds. Again the Red Rump Parrots were plentiful and they would take off screeching at our approach. A family of Blue Faced honeyeaters were feeding on the flowers of a Hakea Lorea tree. Leaving the woodland area we headed into Fern Gulley. This very large area has been covered with a wire mesh and the leaves from the larger trees have built up on the mesh to give the effect of a tree canopy overhead. The fern grove is cool and shady with a small stream running through it. There is a $5.00 car admission fee to enter the gardens but it is worth it as the place is beautiful. Sadly there is no camping and the gates are shut at 5.00pm.

After lunching back at the caravan we took off heading back to Wellington and then on to Parks. From Parks we headed for Condobolin where we bought some supplies and drove out to Gum Bend Lake to camp for the night. The Lake is four kilometres west of the town and is manmade. Sadly there was no water in the lake but recent rains have the countryside beautiful and green.

Friday started with a great hot shower courtesy of the Condobolin Council at the campgrounds. I was hopeful that there would be a variety of birds there but sadly this was not the case. I guess that the dry lake bed had something to do with this. Two flowering gum trees could not attract anything except for Noisy Miners. Leaving town, we stopped at a rest area on a creek crossing 15 kilometres south of the town. There bird life was plentiful. I managed to photograph the Western Gerygone and Chestnut Rumped Thornbill both birds that I had not captured before. It was then on to Lake Cargelligo where we booked into the caravan park so we could have power for the computers. The road between Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo is one massive ploughed paddock. Trees have been cleared and huge tractors pull plough sets over 15 metres wide. The recent rain has everyone ploughing and planting. After lunch it was a look around the town before heading out around the lake in search of photographic subjects. There are three lakes in the Lake Cargelligo system connected by canals. To my surprise I saw a beautiful Sea Eagle in a tree beside the canal but it took off before I could stop the car. A large python type snake was sunning itself in the fork of a tree and this bought in the birds. I managed to get several shots of birds all harassing this snake. On the way back, Australian Shellducks were gathered on the water’s edge and I managed distant shots of these before they headed out into the lake. The sky out here is absolutely clear today without a cloud. I hope that this keeps up for a while yet. Tomorrow is more of Lake Cargelligo.

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