Report No. 3. Tuesday, August 19 thru Thursday, August 21. YOU GET MORE BIRDS WITH A GUIDE.


Reminder: Sharon's added comments are in {brackets}. Comments inserted after returning to San Jose are in red.

Up till now, I haven't made any direct references to the vinyl map I've given a few of you.

You can also see this map by going to our website at, locating "Birding Trips," locating "2003", then clicking "Down Under." This will bring you to the introduction page of our Australia trip. Locate and click on "Australia Map" under "Hopes... Schemes." The blue numbers represent "Stop Numbers," and they represent hopeful BIRDING STOPS, not necessarily evening sleeping stops.

These birding Stop Numbers will be chronological, in general, but with many cases where we jump around.

Bounce back up one level to the Australia introduction page, and click on "original itinerary" to get some more detail on the stop numbers.

Anyway, this is my long-winded way of saying I'm going to start referring to those numbers. Thank you for your patience and enjoy the movie.


Tue, August 19, 2003. Day 6 of 118. A LITTLE MORE LAMINGTON [Birding Stop 1]. MEETING A BIRDING GURU.

We're up around 6am. It's overcast, windy and COLD. A good day for a lyrebird. I look out again a minute or two later, and realize that the sky is totally clear, not cloudy. We follow Glenn Threlfo's advice from last night, and up on a ridge I see two male Satin Bowerbirds verbally sparring. "I'm prettier than you." "No, I"m prettier than you."

A little Pademelon crosses our path, and last night Glenn said that the name comes from aborignal words meaning little bigfoot. Now we've walked the botanical garden path and we're onto the Border track, though we won't take it all the way to the NSW (New South Wales) border. We're in Queensland, the state north of NSW, if you didn't know before.

A family of LOGRUNNERS* scurries across an open space beside us. Handsome and secretive they are. We hear our lyrebird now, calling. We hurry to the spot closest to him on the trail, look at each other and wade into the viny brush. He's only 15 feet or so in there, just beyond a mass of greenery. We're gonna see a lyrebird! We get to within 2-3 feet of him, can hear him making all the squacks, and buzzes of him mimicry. He is just behind a bunch of vines, we can almost see him move the foliage...

But he moves as we move and since Mama said there'd be days like this, I'm not terribly disappointed. Mildly, yes, but we've been getting great birds and will get more. We come almost to the top of the Border Track, and another track branches off and down into the valley below. There is a cool sign that says "To Canungra. 13 kilometers." There is a picture of the Eiffel Tower.

The words say, "If you were at the Eiffel Tower, would you walk up the stairs or take the elevator to the top? If you said the elevator, then this trail is not for you." Clearer words were never spoken. Elevator people and short of time, we pass.

A little before 11am we pull out of our camping spot and Sharon picks up another Golden Whistler right in camp. She says (Sharon reads ALL the time) that typical of the whistler family, the males call after the loud noises of thunder, earning them the nickname of Thunderbird. {They will even call after the sound of a car backfiring}

We are making our way down to the spot where Glenn told us we'd "for sure" get Tawny Frogmouth. He said there is ALWAYS a pair there, and if they're not there, then somebody moved them.

I didn't see a moving company van, but they weren't there.

Our destination today is Greg Anderson's house in Brisbane. Greg is a friend and colleague of my old Stanford roommate and friend Gordon McLaren. Gordon put us onto him as a good birder, who graciously volunteered to help two intermediate American birders find some good Aussie birds when we got there.

Our cell phone rings for the first time ever, and it's Greg saying he'll be working from home all day, so any time we get there is ok. We tell him our location and he says it should be about an hour, and I thought, "Not the way we do things," but Sharon is talking with him, not I, and she says we will stop for lunch first. But leaves out that we'll also do some severe motorhome supply stockage.

Message to American Cell Phone Companies: THIS CALL DID NOT COST ME ANYTHING. INCOMING CALLS ARE FREE TO CELL PHONE USERS. HINT HINT. Hey wait a minute. Do I expect anybody like that to read this? Not.

A big roadside sign shows the Crocodile Hunter facing off a big croc, and says to visit the Australia Zoo, which features you know who. We pass an ice cream truck named Mr. Twirly.

Following Greg's directions, we find a big shopping center on our route, stop and proceed to start piling things into the cart.

We are in a Big W, and there are Rollback signs, happy faces and signs overhead like Walmart has. Does Walmart own Big W? I ask and learn that Big W pays Walmart to come over and give consulting advice on running their stores and their company. But they are related to Woolworth's (grocery store here), not Walmart.

Warning: If you go to the UK or come to Australia, you will discover a dastardly fact if you use a shopping cart. All four wheels are free rotating. So as you push your cart down the aisle, it is just as likely to drift to the left into the food, or to the right, into the path of oncoming cart traffic. I HATE them. But not very much. I can't hate anything very much, I'm on a four-month birding vacation.

We finish up, and make it to Greg's a little before five, meeting him and his son Ian. He hustles us off to Lake Samsonville [Stop 3] for some last light birding. Sharon sits back at the dinette and Greg rides shotgun in the motorhome.

A blink of an eye, and we're on foot and birding, circling the lake with Greg, who points out FIGBIRD* immediately. He gets us a spectacular RED-BACKED FAIRY-WREN* and surely one of the best fairy-wrens. Tiny all black bird with bright red-orange across its back, and that fairy-wren tail sticking straight up in the air. Unbelievable bird. And at about the same spot VARIEGATED FAIRY-WREN*, also very nice.

Then he chases a nice group of fantastic RED-BROWED FIRETAILS* towards us. They like to stick together. Firetails are one of the top desired birds on my list.

CASPIAN TERN is patrolling the lake. I see this incredible pink-tailed Sulfur-crested Cockatoo, and I can't get either Sharon or Greg to see it. The only thing they can see is a female DARTER* with its yellow bill and pink-orange legs.

Well, I'm tired. And for some unknown reason, I seem to enjoy making a complete fool out of myself in new situations with people watching I'd like to impress. Pass the word.

I ask Greg what kind of crows we are seeing, as he leads us back to the motorhome through a housing development, and he says TORRESIAN CROW*. And we didn't even know it. But he finally gets us what he's really wanted to get us. There in a tree behind a house, high up and enjoying a nice salad, is our first wild KOALA*. Even if it's in somebody's back yard. Great view through the scope.

Greg is familiar with almost all the bird calls and songs of the area, and birds first by ear, then by sight. It's really remarkable. "Chup, Chup." Greg: "White-browed Scrubwren!" Man, he's good. When I grow up...

We go back home and meet his friendly and competent wife Karen, who is now home from work. They have a"frequent eaters" card for a restaurant called Two Brothers. We volunteer to buy dinner for the five of us, if they use their card to get $50 off. Then we're off to an excellent dinner - hey! Eating out two nights in a row. Sharon could get used to this.

We get back home and I have given Ian, their 15 yr old son, the problem of deciding if something's wrong with the battery charger I bought here to replace the apparently broken battery charger I brought over from home. I charged batteries overnight, but the "don't bother me, I'm still charging batteries" light was still blinking. Holy cow, how long does it take to charge a battery?

Sharon, Greg, Karen and I then enjoy sitting around the living room talking about stuff. I have given them my latest copy of the Versailles Leader Statesman - my Missouri hometown weekly newspaper. There is a special section on the Amish community, and Sharon points out the column written weekly by Aunt Dorothy, my mom's sister.

Mom was an excellent writer, too, and somehow a LITTLE of it rubbed off on me. The part that LIKES to write, not necessarily the part that writes good. Er, well.

Greg starts talking about this mammal book he has, and it turns out to be the same one I ordered from before we came over here. He shows me his "favorite mammal name," which turns out to be Ningding False Antechinus (say an-tee-KIE-nuss). I mean Ningding? Good one. It's a little rat-like creature that we might encounter as we cross from Northern Territory into Western Australia in the Top End (Australian jargon for the topmost strip of Australia, but not including Cape York peninsula, as I understand it). But we have to be careful and not see the REAL Ningding Antechinus, when we're looking for the False.

I ask Greg if he could possibly get away from work to bird with us tomorrow, and he says that he told his staff he wouldn't be in tomorrow, and if things went well, he might not be in the next day either.

We discussed what we would do if we took just tomorrow, and what we'd do if we did two days. The two days involved an overnight stay, and that's what we chose, of course.

I get on the internet for the first time, and I can not get on using my AOL software, so I can't send out my first trip report. I can pick up emails though, and I respond to some, write some others.

Neighbor Jan, who is watching our house till her son Michael gets home from boy scout camp, says things are well there. That's a great thing, to know your home is being well-cared for.

Daughter Tara has some pashmina information to give to Sharon and wonders how we're doing.

And there are some other emails too nice and numerous to mention. I love getting email on the road (Sharon does too), so show us what you got, if you're in the mood.

Here's one for you as a last shot of the day.

A man and his son went to a hockey game, and the man caught a puck that the goalie deflected. Later, when the man asked the goalie for an autograph for his son, the goalie graciously invited the man and his son to dinner. They went to a very nice place, and so there they sat - the father, son and the goalie host.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 7 (Logrunner, Red-browed Finch, Figbird, Variegated Fairy-wren, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Darter, Torresian Crow).
For the Trip: 43.

Trip Birds Today: 8 (5 Lifers plus Caspian Tern)
For the Trip: 72.

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 0.

Attractions seen that start with, contain, or are "Big" Today: 0
For the Trip: 2

Sleep in: Greg and Karen's home, suburb of Brisbane, Queensland


Wed, August 20, 2003. 7 of 118. BIRD BIRD BIRD, BIRD BIRD'S THE WORD

We're up and having breakfast at 630am.What Sharon, who likes to have nonfat cottage cheese, applesauce and either strawberries or blueberries for breakfast, has learned from Karen is where to find the applesauce in grocery stores. She hasn't been able to find it yet, and is told to look in with the mayo and ketchup, since it's a "garnish for your meat." We load all our stuff into the motorhome, the most important of which is Dr. Greg Anderson, birder extraordinaire. And during this process, we hear a very sharp musical series of calls from a tree in their front yard. Karen says, "Oh yes. That BROWN HONEYEATER* never stops."

We take off, headed for the Samsonvale Cemetery [Stop 3, other side of the lake] first, which is on the south side of the same lake we birded last evening. We approach and Sharon sees something unusual, but I don't recall what it was. She asks rhetorically, "What are those guys doing in the cemetery?" and Greg says quietly, "Being dead." I have to ask again to be sure he said what I thought he said. And he did. I kick up his sense of humor rating three notches.

As we get out, Greg says he HEARS Whistling Kite, but we let it go at first because he has stopped walking in front of a special tree. I look up and immediately see why we're here. Sharon says, "What?" And I say look up in the tree. She looks and with some difficulty locates the fantastic TAWNY FROGMOUTH*, perfectly imitating a broken-off snag, stretching his neck and pointing his head upwards, with closed eyes. As we are admiring this master of disguise (He is the exact same color, including mottling of the tree), Greg tells us this great story.

When he was a kid, he was playing on a picnic table when a frogmouth baby fell out of its nest and landed smack right on the table, which was a totally different color than he was. The frog-let-mouth immediately assumed the posture, stretched his neck and head up, and closed his eyes. "You can't see me! I'm disguised." Cracks me up.

Its 7am and we pick up WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER* and LITTLE FRIARBIRD* in the same huge tree. Sharon ambles off and zeros in on the WHISTLING KITE* on a snag on a sandbar in the lake. Sharon picks up some BLACK-WINGED STILTS too, and they are outstanding in their black and white colors with red legs. Then we get another spectacular Red-backed Fairy-wren, like last night, only this one is in bright sunlight. Takes my breath away. "What a beauty!" - Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

We get a much better look at a Brown Honeyeater than we had hiding in the tree at Greg's a little while ago. Then we get a spectacular vocalist and his mate - a pair of RUFOUS WHISTLERS*. The male seems to be the same color pattern as the Golden Whistler except his underparts are a soft tan instead of bright yellow.

There is a tribe of people somewhere in the world that has a very simple numbering system. They have the number 1, 2 and "more than 2." There isn't any zero. I have a similar system in my color-naming skills. There is red, and yellow and purple and green and black and white and blue. And tan. Then there's reddish-yellow and light red and dark green, and like that. I call every bird color from light tan to cream to gray "white." It drives Sharon crazy.

There is a certain set of birds in Australia whose latin name is gerygone (say juh-RIG-a-nee. Except when the dang bird flies away before you get him sorted out, then say JERRY-gone). They were called warblers until recently, so the former White-throated Warbler is now called the WHITE-THROATED GERYGONE*. And we get a pair, pointed out by the doc.

There are some gray and white and black birds flying about, landing on bare branches and then back out again. They are WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOWS* and are neat and clean. Sharon gets GLOSSY IBIS, again out on the sandbar in the lake.

Greg leads us over to the tall grass, and sticks his ear out. "I hear Golden-headed Cisticola," he says, and we proceed to eyeball the grass looking for birds to pop up, fly a short distance, then light on the top of a piece of grass long enough for us to see him, and that's just what happens. GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLA* (Say GOAL-dun, I mean say sis-TICK-uh-luh).

Sharon calls time out to borrow my Sony DSC-P1 digital camera to get a shot of a Wolf Spider's web for our 12-year old grandson Joshua, who will have to be disappointed with his big request: "Bring me back a Sydney Trapdoor Spider!" Sharon has been looking for one encased in lucite, dead or alive. But he'll get a kick out of this web anyway.

We're also looking for another bird, and holy cow, I spot it first. Well, I don't know EXACTLY what I'm looking at, but it has the long tail Greg has described, and he confirms the enthusiastic singing of a TAWNY GRASSBIRD*. I compliment Greg on getting us this bird in perfect sun and singing a great song, all for no extra charge, and he says, "We'll talk about that later." We all laugh, and I check my wallet.

Suddenly we get a bush full of spectacular CHESTNUT-BREASTED MANNIKINS*. They make me say the word "Africa", as they move in a tight swarm - swirling up, across some grass, then landing in tall grass, each making its own blade bend under the weight. Very very cool.

Greg calls out as he listens to a bird in a medium-sized tree on the boundary between the mown grass and the tall grass, "OLIVE-BACKED ORIOLE*" and we check our bird guides to make sure we agree. We agree. Back to the big tree, and a pair of BROWN CUCKOO-DOVES*. Greg is trying to locate a Striped Honeyeater, but it vacates the premises before we can get it. Greg swings around and says, "I hear a Bronze-cuckoo calling, Shining or Little. Surprising myself, I spot it first, and he decides it is a LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO*, and we can see the red eye in the sun.

Whew. We're birding now, mama.

Greg hears, then locates and gets us on a beautiful SCARLET HONEYEATER*, and the red is heart-stopping in the sun.

Holy cow, it's only 915am and we're leaving the "being dead" people to try for Platypus at an area location known to Greg [Stop 2 until you are notified otherwise]. We pass a house with a homemade sign in front that reads, "COWPOO $2.50". Doesn't that seem a little extravagant? Maybe it's just me.

We pass through the town of Dayboro, and drive down to a nearby creek. A nice pair of WHITE-BREASTED SEA-EAGLES do a nice flyover. Sharon has stayed back at the motorhome to use the toilet, and as Greg and I are searching for platypus, Sharon walks up as cool as you please and says, "Do you have crocodiles here? I think I see one's nose, just gliding along the surface." Well, you know what this is. Sharon has just walked in and spotted without trying our lifer PLATYPUS*, while Greg and I have been missing it.

Greg gets on it, but we soon realize that they were each on a different one - there's two here. I hope Greg's whiplash injury insurance is up-to-date because he swivels around and starts walking across the road. He names the bird, locates it, and gets us both on it. It's a beautiful WHITE-HEADED PIGEON*, perched halfway up a tree among many other such trees.

Greg says, "Do you guys want to see frogs too?" Well, of course we do, as long as there's not too many and we can make froglegs out of them. Oh sorry, my mind was wandering. A TUFTED FROG* is croaking, and Greg says as a boy he used to catch them.

1030am and we're about 80% of the way up the 23-km road to Mt. Mee when we see a little bird buzzing a bigger bird to drive it off - both flying away. The big bird is a Wedge-tailed Eagle, says Greg, but we don't good enough looks to claim it. Greg says we'll see lots of them in Australia.

We are at Mt. Mee now at the picnic area. I watch a Laughing Kookaburra make a neat maneuver, flying right over a table, right between a man and woman sitting there, and stealing something off the table. As we are walking about (get it? Walkabout?), Greg hears and then gets us on a beautiful GRAY SHRIKE-THRUSH*. Very nice.

Greg picks up a BRUSH CUCKOO* for us, and its call is like you would do to call your dog. I don't know how to write it, so I'll just send you the call mentally. Got it?

We continue browsing the grounds as Greg tells us a story about the Brush-turkey. This is the bird that builds the big mound and one of which gave Sharon a little (Not little, Sharon?) bite when she was trying to feed it.

This man ordered a truckload of red bark to spread out on a portion of his yard. So on Saturday, he spent the day raking the stuff neatly over his yard. Next morning when he got up, all the bark was back in a pile, about four feet high. That's all I'm sayin'.

I play a game with granddaughters Mikayla and Samantha that you might call "That's all I'm saying." It started one day when I was using this phrase often, taken from a line often used by Paul Riser's character on the TV show "Mad About You." Mikayla finally got tired of it and said, "Grandpa, you can't say 'That's all I'm saying' any more." So I said, "OK Mikayla, I'll stop, and that's all I'm saying." So she jumped on me, and her little sister Samantha, seeing the action, jumped on me too.

So now I like to start the line, "That's all I'm..." and I wait, and they look at each other then look at me, waiting, waiting. "... slaying." They relax. Sometimes when I push the game, finally Mikayla will say, "Grandpa, you can say it now." And sometimes Samantha will agree, but sometimes she won't."

I miss those little granddaughter-turkeys. And their little sister, Hurricane Sydney, who's well into her personality. And their new little baby brother Tommy, who loves it when his sisters pile on him. OK, that's all I'm saying about that.

We get a peacock, but it's not countable, says Greg {because it probably tame}. As we're walking, I spot this great set of colors coming from a bird perched about 8 feet up in a tree not too far away. I get Greg and Sharon on it, and I can't remember which of three birds it is. "WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE*", says Greg, and we see its mate nearby. We look it up and it's much more radical in person.

We move to a new location in a dry forest and since it's about 1130am, in the heat of the day, not much bird activity is going on. But as we're walking near an embankment next to the road, a pair of birds flies from the embankment to the trees above. Greg gets on them, and we do too. It's a nice pair of Striated Pardalotes, but we don't see them well enough to confirm, so we pass on counting them.

Greg points out their nest hole, burrowed into the embankment and that explains why they flew from the ground. We pile into the motorhome and move again. Later, as we're headed down a mountain, we pass the Glass House Mountains, named by Captain Cook in 1770. You'll figure out how I remembered what year it was in a few more reports, if you can pay attention to my ramblings for that long. And thank you if you do.

Greg says that the Australia Zoo is in that vicinity, and I'm surprised that it's less than an hour from Greg's house. At noon, we are passing through Woodford, and Greg points out that I'm doing 85 kph in a 60 zone. I slow down because this is the home of a high security prison, and I don't like that omen.

Continuing our travels, we pass through Kilcoy, which bills itself as "The Friendliest Town in 2001." No mention of 2000 or 2002, but presumably they were persnickity in those sandwich years. We go through the town of Blackbutt, which, it turns out, is the name of a well-known tree. An art shop in town is called "Butt-Art," and my mind starts playing with that. "We have everything Butt-Art." And that's all I'm...

At about 2pm, we pass through Yarraman [Stop 4], headed for either the Forest Drive ["...either the Forest Drive"? What did I mean by that?"]. This is supposed to be one of the few places you can go to see the rare Black-breasted Buttonquail, and don't you just love that name? But the long Australia drought, plus recent activity by the people managing the park (they cleared out the BBBQ's favorite scrub beneath the trees) has resulted in no recent traces of the birds.

Now the cool thing about this bird is that it scratches in the leaves to uncover bugs and stuff, but the way it does it is remarkable. It just goes round and round in a tight circle, maybe 8 inches in diameter. Greg points out a lot of these circles, but they are all old, and we prepare to vacate the area. But not before Greg gets us on a BROWN GERYGONE*, of which Sharon gets a great view, and I get but a quick glance.

Greg has us move to another possible area, nearby, but the story's the same. We take off, headed for Darby, where we will probably camp for the night. We pass through Cooyar on the way. About 430 we stop because Greg thinks he has spotted something. We get a pair of European Starlings, and while we are standing there, a group of parrots fly in. Again, since it's apparently MY day, I pick them up. They are a beautiful green in the sun, and Greg Ids them as several pairs of RED-RUMPED PARROTS* Then a NANKEEN KESTREL* settles onto a power pole, giving us nice looks. While looking at the Kestrel, we see, clearly this time, a little bird chasing off a much larger WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE*. Then Greg says, "NOISY MINER*," and I freeze.

Noisy Miner? I thought this was a Mynah. Although I thought it was especially light in color. The bird was pointed out to Sharon and me as a "noisy mynah," but it was in Aus-TRY-yun, and the words actually said were "Noisy Miner," but with the 'er' changed to 'uh' per the rules of Oz pronunciation.

So here it is: I've been seeing Noisy Miners since we got here, thinking they were Mynahs, but with the nagging opinion that they seemed to be much lighter in color than the Mynahs of Hawaii, for example.


We're outa here, and come into Yambo Shire - "Proudly Rural." I like that. We come into Dalby, fill up with diesel, and find the Myall Creek Caravan Park, where we're invited to a free "Sausage Sizzle." Upon inquiry, it's a thing put on by the caravan park. They supply the barbecued sausage and bread, and we bring whatever else we want. So we set up our rig, bring three chairs and some condiminiums - ketchup and mustand the the like, and mosey on over, as it has the feel of a summer evening around the chuckwagon.

The sausage is tasty so I have seconds. Near the end, they ask everybody to say where they're from, and the Aussies give each other good-natured cross-state ribbing during the intros. The world spins on when you're birding, and it's just today I think that I learned of the big electrical outage in New York.

When the requests for hometowns makes it around to us, Sharon says, "California, USA." It seems like each Aussie there starts coming out with his or her best California-ribbing stuff, but it's all coming out all jumbled, and finally when it all settles, the speaker says, "Do you know which country Bush is going to invade next?" "No," everybody says. "One with electricity, this time." It takes me two counts to get it.

Other things about the Sausage Sizzle that I remember were all the Shania Twain CDs they played and the Fruit Bats, {The fruit bats were phenominal. Also called Flying Foxes, they started flying over and at first we had no idea what these huge birds could be. Greg then told us they were bats and we enjoyed watching 20 or 30 fly silently over.} plus a recommendation for a book by Tim Bowden - a travel adventure book. I find that books recommended to me as "excellent" almost always are.

We make our way back to the motorhome, and whereas I intend to work on a trip report, I get hung up on a great documentary on TV. And it was SO good and I experienced it SO completely, that I don't even remember what it was.

Then we all crash, Greg sacking out in his sleeping bag in the bed over the cab. You sleep really good when you bird like we did today. What a satisfying feeling, and many thanks to Greg for doing this trip with us. But it ain't over yet. We still have another day with him!

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 24. Yes, 24!!! (Brown Honeyeater, Tawny Frogmouth, White-throated Honeyeater, Little Friarbird, Whistling Kite, Rufous Whistler, White-throated Gerygone, White-breasted Woodswallow, Golden-headed Cisticola, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Tawny Grassbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Scarlet Honeyeater, Little Bronze-cuckoo, White-headed Pigeon, Gray Shrike-thruh, Brush Cuckoo, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Brown Gerygone, Red-rumped Parrot, Nankeen Kestrel, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Noisy Miner).
For the Trip: 67.

Trip Birds Today: 25 (22 Lifers plus Black-winged Stilt, Glossy Ibis and White-breasted Sea-eagle)
For the Trip: 99.

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 0.

Attractions seen that start with, contain, or are "Big" Today: 0
For the Trip: 2

Sleep in: Myall Creek Caravan Park. Dalby, Queensland.


Thu, August 21, 2003. Day 8 of 118. BEAUTIFUL REDS.

The alarm is off at 6am, and I can't wait to get going. We bought weight scales, so we could tell if we're losing or gaining during the trip, and it hasn't reacted well to the melted popsicle juice oozing its way into the electronics. This morning Sharon weighs 22.5 kg, which is about 47 pounds.

By 7am, we are nearing Lake Broadwater, only it is dry so I point out that it's just Broadwater, then Sharon ups the ante with the observation that it's just Broad. Last night, Greg called a friend and got a report of an unusual bird here, which he's going to try and get for us, even though there's no water.

Greg has armed us with the information that along this very long, perfectly straight section of approach road, we might get Apostlebirds. Sharon asks Greg if he knows why they're called Apostlebird. This is the type of question Sharon likes to ask when she knows the answer, and I'm almost always fascinated to hear her nuggets. {But in this instance, I didn't know the answer, REALLY}

He says that a long time ago, people thought these birds went around in groups of 13, and I guess he's right. As we roll along, and I look out the window beside us, a grey kangaroo and I look at each other. And the kangaroo thinks, "Man, what's he THINKING?"

We are still driving up the long straight road when we come upon a group of about ten APOSTLEBIRDS*. They are a very attractive combination of brown and gray, and they definitely like to be in a group. My mind reels, remembering the first time I looked at a picture of these birds, and thought "We could go to Australia and actually SEE this bird." And the world turns.

Apostlebirds on the left, miniature golf on the right. This WAS a big resort area when water filled the lake, like Lake of the Ozarks or Santa Cruz. But take away the water and see what happens. Remarkable. We pass a tree with a big bulge on it, andSharon asks Greg if it's a termite mound. And it is. {See, Bob, I told you it was a termite mound!}

We finally come to the end of the long straight, paved road, and enter a dirt road winding through a big meadow with spindly trees. There are perhaps 40-50 kangaroos which are keeping their eyes on us. As we approach each small group, it turns and retreats. We come to the elevated bird hide, and up we go. I feel like we're looking at a burned out shell, when we look out at the dark brown scrub where the lake used to be.

We come back down, having seen very few birds, when Greg says he hears Striated Pardalote and Little Corella. Greg does a few calls and several STRIATED PARDALOTES* come over. "Add us to your life list," they tell me, and I do. Now we can identify their calls too. Toodle-oo, toodle-oo.

There are a few prickly pear cactus, and Greg tells us the story of how this plant was brought in, and took over the landscape. It was impossible to get rid of. Then (Sister-in-law Loretta, take note, if you're reading this), they brought in a little moth which laid its eggs on the cactus, and the resulting caterpillars knocked the pricklies out of the park. Not totally, so that there is still enough to keep the moths around. An equilibrium situation.

Greg directs us through a gate into an adjacent, extremely dry area, and as we drive in, I'd estimate that we scare about 200 kangaroos, bounding off in all directions, except the TOWARDS US one.

We start walking down a road through a forest of thin trees, perhaps 10-12 feet high. We walk and talk as Greg listens, occasionally stopping, then resuming. But once, oh, once...

he says the name of this bird, and we go after the call. In short order, we are all on the spectacular beauty of the RED-CAPPED ROBIN*. A beautiful black and white bird with a red on the head and upper chest that is in such contrast to the drab browns and grays of the forest and ground that you just can't accept that there is a red that's this RED. Then we get his mate, with a light wash of pink on the forehead, otherwise pretty much the color of the forest and earth.

And what do you do as an encore to this? You turn right around and get a ROSE ROBIN*, a grey and white bird with a reddish pink on the chest. Simply awesome in their cheery beauty.

We are stoked with these two life birds, and we head back to the motorhome. We're back to the dirt track, now, which would lead us back to the motorhome, but there's a much smaller kangaroo track (yes!) that will take us there more directly and so we follow it, looking both left and right before entering the flow of roo traffic.

Suddenly we get a tree that's alive with tiny flowers and birds. We quickly get SPINY-CHEEKED HONEYEATER*, and another fantastic black and white and red bird - the MISTLETOEBIRD*, then a few BUFF-RUMPED THORNBILLS*. Greg saw a Yellow Thornbill, but we didn't so don't claim it. Greg says this tree is a Flowering Belah. {I pick some of the flowers to taste the necter as I do at home with the honey suckle, but it tastes bitter. Wonder what the birds see in it?}

We finally continue towards the motorhome when a few small YELLOW THORNBILLS* pop into a pine tree. Chuffed, we pile into the motorhome and head back out, back down the long straight road. We pass some interesting birds on the ground and Greg has us stop, and we get great views of four or five GREY-CROWNED BABBLERS*. They remind us of the Thrasher family, with their down-curving beaks. They are very handsome, with beautiful light color on top of the head with a grey stripe through the eye. Dressed for the inauguration.

We make it back to Dalby and it's only about 1030am. We stop for a picnic brunch on the other side of the creek from our Sausage Sizzle last night. As we're eating our stuff, Greg walks over to examine more closely a group of very small birds , then comes back over and tells us what they are. We drop our sandwiches in mid-bite and go get good looks at these WEEBILLS*, birds with, well, you know.

But that's nothing. A truck goes by pulling a trailer. And on this trailer sat another trailer. But that's nothing. On this trailer was still another trailer. It was a triple decker trailer sandwich. A trailer trailer trailer. Did you ever?

Our picnic's over and we head out of Dalby, passing a reminder of one of my former lives, when I thought I could earn a living betting on thoroughbred horses. Well, if you are wondering how successful I was, I ask you, am I still doing that? Birding is less expensive (well maybe not the way we're doing it at this instant), more satisfying and is something that Sharon and I can do together.

It's a neat little race track and brings back some fond memories, including how good it felt to quit.

We pass through a town with the great name of Toowoomba. Today is trash pickup day in Toowoomba, and it looks much like trash pickup day in San Jose. Everybody has their containers wheeled out near the road, waiting like sentinels.

We pass a Golf World store and Sharon sees a sign that says, "All we slice is the price." And with that they hook the customers. Every once in a while we see a bar that has the word "Pokies" in front. Sharon went in one recently and they are poker machines, like you see in Reno or Las Vegas, but they still have handles that you pull, rather than buttons to push.

We get House Sparrow, but I don't see it. We are headed for the University of Queensland in Gratton, and we turn onto the premises. Greg directs us to a couple of ponds or small lakes, and we get out to scan the waterbirds. We hit the jackpot with PINK-EARED DUCK*, RED-KNEED DOTTEREL*, AUSTRALASIAN GREBE* and GREY TEAL. There are loads of PLUMED WHISTLING DUCKS - lots of them. And a beautiful BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL. After a bit, Greg decides that this lark-type bird is a RUFOUS SONGLARK*, still another lifer for us.

Students or workers on horses have driven about twenty head of cattle along the road between the two ponds where we are scanning birds, and after a bit a girl rides up to us and says that they are about to drive another group down, but there are a couple of bulls who "might go after you," and "could we please move THIS TIME." Sharon thinks that the girl's remark was intended to be a subtle reminder that we should have been smart enough to move the first time. She doesn't know us very well, does she?

We move to "Lake" Clarenden next, and it is dry, except the managers have bulldozed a couple of tiny depressions that still have water, and there are reeds around one, from which comes beautiful music to our ears. It's at least two CLAMOROUS REED-WARBLERS*, but we can only get them to pop up, get a glance of us, then pop right back down. But we know by their song (Well, Greg does), what they are. We also get RICHARD'S PIPIT, with its white outer tail feathers while we're trying to entice the Reed-Warbler out. Greg pushes us to leave and we vacate the premises, headed for the next stop. But first Sharon gets a photo of Greg and me, leaning against our motorhome.

Bob and Greg Anderson

It's a little dip in the road, where there is usually a lake on one side, but as you have probably guessed, it is dried up. Nevertheless, Greg gets us on a little WHITE-THROATED GERYGONE*. Scanning and listening, he also gets us a nice WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER*, one of Sharon's favorite kinds of birds. Then, as we're walking back to the motorhome, we pick up a pair of nice JACKY WINTERS* and a FUSCOUS HONEYEATER*. Without Greg, we'd never have gotten any of these birds - well, maybe the Jacky Winter. And maybe the White-throated Treecreeper. We get on the road again, commenting on that great stop.

We take a route that passes through big slow rolling meadows, and stop to get our scopes on a pair of BANDED LAPWINGS*, next to a nice Jabiru. A SCALY-BREASTED LORIKEET* flies by, and the owner of the house down the driveway I have blocked is waiting to get in. Uh, scuse me. I move the motorhome, and my bet that no one would be needing the driveway during the five minutes we are here is a losing one.

We head out again, making a left onto a smaller road. I see a light colored bird ("white" is the thought I had) to our left on the ground. It takes off and Sharon spots it. It flies ahead of us, then over the road, then turns back towards the direction from which we've come. It lands, and we stop. Greg gets us on it. It's a very nice gray and white bird, and is our GROUND CUCKOO-SHRIKE*. Great views.

We leave Boyce's Road, and are on the bitumin, headed for Anderson Dam. At 445pm there's nothing to get excited about. So we have one more stop to make, at a place called College's Crossing or something like that. It's a big lake. We drive up onto the grounds high above the lake, but there is a nice covered structure to look down at the lake. Greg describes what to look for, and I've really been looking forward to the first time seeing this bird. Greg scans to the left, and I scan to the right. Suddenly I spot what we're after in the scope. I lift off and say, "I've got a white duck here." Greg comes over and says, "That's it." It's the male and we quickly find the female COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE*. What a handsome guy. It reminds me a little of the elegant SMEW.

Well, we still have one more stop, to try to see owls and nightjars. We make our way up to Mt. Cuth-ha, and get BRUSH-TAILED POSSUM* in the dark at about 630pm, but no birds.

We call it a day and head back home, getting nice night-time views of Brisbane, and the local suburbs, as we drop down from the altitude of Mt. Cuth-ha.

This reminds me of the time I dated a girl in Berkley at the time I lived in Palo Alto and worked at GE in San Jose. I'd drive up to see her, we'd go out, and then I'd drive home late at night - well early in the morning. It'd be cold and breezy, and I'd slide the ragtop back on my '63 Volkswagen, turn the heater on full blast and drive back across the Oakland-Bay Bridge with the wind whipping the car all over the bridge. I'd have a blanket and wrap up in it, very warm and cozy.

Karen has fixed Lasagna, and it makes me feel very Italian. Ian and Karen have figured out that the problem with my battery charger is that it takes 17 hours to charge batteries, rather than the typical 6-8 hours on the charger I've brought from home, but which has gone south. Or in Australia, do you say it's gone north? Anyway, it belongs in the toilet, if you get my drift.

Sharon and I take showers, and after checking the internet for email, I follow Sharon off into dreamland. A very nice place to spend some time.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 23. (Apostlebird, Striated Pardalote, Red-capped Robin, Rose Robin, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Mistletoebird, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow thornbill, Grey-crowned Babbler, Weebill, Pink-eared Duck, Red-kneed Dotterel, Australasian Grebe, Black-fronted Dotterel, Rufous Songlark, Clamorous Reed-warbler, White-throated Treecreeper, Jacky Winter, Fuscous Honeyeater, Banded Lapwing, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Cotton Pygmy-goose).
For the Trip: 90.

Trip Birds Today: 25 (23 Lifers plus Grey Teal, Richard's Pipit)
For the Trip: 124.

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 0.

Attractions seen that start with, contain, or are "Big" Today: 0
For the Trip: 2

Sleep in: Greg and Karen's home, suburb of Brisband, Queensland

That's it for this, the third report of our big adventure.

Note: We skipped Birding Stops 5 and 6. Greg said the Bunya Mountains National Park skip (No. 5) was because it was so dry from the drought.

Good NIGHT, Gordon! [said with gusto, especially on the middle word, to my Stanford roommate Gordon McLaren by a Stanford dolly named Roberta Stickney one night when he walked her to the door of her residence, hoping for a good night kiss, I think. She was somehow related to the Stickneys who owned the chain of Stickney's Restaurants we saw in the Bay Area. As I recall, this was the one and only time Gordo got shot down. That he would admit to.]

Previous Report (No. 2)
Next Report (No. 4)
Back to Australia Trip Reports
Back to Birding Trips