Report No. 19. Wednesday, October 8 thru Friday, October 10, 2003. CONTINUING DOWN THE WEST COAST.

 

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2003. Day 56 of 118. Polishing Off the First Eight Weeks. Only Nine Weeks Left! Crikey,We Better Get Movin'!

It's just before 5am and Sharon points out that today is voting day in California. I figure Arnie is a shoo-in.

It's a windy day as we work our way out of the park's speed bumps. It's a great stargazing situation - totally dark, the moon's down and there are stars everywhere. I was recently able to finally get a good adjustable star map of the southern hemisphere. Now I just need a good no-moon night, and a dark park.

We make our way back to the Rufous-crowned Emu-wren spot we were at last night, hoping that early morning will get the bird. Shothole Canyon is gorgeous in the early morning sunrise.

I forget to take the digital recorder with me, but here's what happenes:

We got Australian Ringneck, a beautiful male Variegated Fairy-wren, lots of Gray-headed Honeyeaters, and a few nice Crested Bellbird calls echoing off the canyon walls. And oh we were close - I played the Rufous-crowned tape and we got the characteristic high-pitched call, then a very, VERY small bird below a small tree in a little clearing among three spinafex plants. It was darting around, trying to see what was making its own noise. But it wouldn't stay still long enough for us to get it. It was tiny. Then, it seemed to have gotten a good enough look, because it disappeared down there. All I saw was a tiny bird, in the shadows, looking dark. No color was visible, no tail was visible. But I'm about 60% sure that was our bird. Sharon gets less of a look than I. Dang. Dang. Dang.

We use up our chosen time period, and head back out, getting a tree monitor with a double diamond pattern on its back.

FLASHBACK: In Broome, Malcolm Douglas, an earlier crocodile hunter, told us that 65 million years ago, or thereabouts, when a meteorite hit the earth, the cloud cover wiped out the dinosaurs - except for the crocodile, which used its watery habitat to advantage. But Malcolm's point was to show how similar the rows of nobs down the back and tail of the crocodile are to those of the dinosaurs in our text books and references. He says they are for air conditioning.

A little after 10am, we come to the Tropic of Capricorn, in this case a white painted line across the highway. People from all over the world have used their laundry marker pens to autograph the stripe. And Sharon does the same, signing our name plus our friend Nancy Burlingame's. {We were both born in January so are Capricorns, get it?}

Sharon doesn't know it, but we're gonna stop at all the other parallels, and sign the road, even though there's no white line. Checking the map, it appears that the T of C is about 23.5 degrees or so, and I can't remember why that is.

So I use logic to figure it out, after setting down the old weedwhacker. See, the scientists would take temperature measurements every inch or so, starting a few feet above where they estimated the line should be. Then they would move south another inch, take another measurement, and compare it with the last inch's measurement. Then they would look for this pattern: Hot, still hot, still hot, still hot, still hot, comfortable, comfortable...

You they simply used the fact that the tropics are hot, and the subtropics are comfortable to see exactly where the change occurred. Then they got their line.

We continue down the road. Zipping along at about 110 kph on the odometer, 105 on the GPS (the accurate value), I get a glimpse of a bird on a dead horizontal tree branch, and I need to see this bird better. I check behind us, then do a U-turn. Sharon wants to know what's up, so I tell her I think I've got a Red-backed Kingfisher. We slowly edge up to it in the motorhome, pull over, and I get out the scope, using the open motorhome side door for cover.

It stays put.

I get the streaky white head, but we can't see any red on the back. But after flying away once, then coming back, Sharon is clever enough to use the fact that it pops its tail down and back up ever so often to peek in and see the rusty color in the right place. Great bird, the Red-backed Kingfisher.

We have come all the way down the peninsula now, and hit the Northwest Coastal Highway about 11am. The peninsula had been all red dirt desert habitat, but there are trees all over the place here next to the highway. Ah, nice wide bitumen.

We see a license plate from Victoria that says, "The Place To Be." Then what's he doing here, in WA? I figure that something has rubbed the word 'From' off the end of the motto we can still read.

A little later, we see something we haven't seen for a long, long, really long time, and that's a residence right on the highway, instead of 50 km off the highway (as in homestead, or station). There are ranch buildings on the left, and sheep paddocks on the right, with the sheep trying to crowd under the few trees for shade. I think this ranch is called Booloogooru, or Boolugooru - something like that.

We hit Carnarvon (c'r NAR vun) a little after noon, and during the 47th refuel, Sharon asks, "Are those indentations under the front bumper for putting your feet in, to let you reach the top of the windshield for cleaning?"

Dohp!

Well, as a matter of fact, thry are. You've done it again, Robin. But the fact is, though I hadn't noticed them at all, Sharon just noticed them this morning.

I clean the front windshield without having to ride piggyback on Sharon.

We continue in, and admire the Big Banana on the right, near a plantation that says, "Banana Plantation Tours." We go on into town and grocerify, then come back out, heading south on the Northwest Highway Again. Wheatley {Our "where-to-find-birds book} has a stop 40km south of Carnarvon that is a road connecting the highway to New Beach. There is samphire and other stuff that chats and some other birds are supposed to like.

FLASHBACK: As we were leaving Carnavon, we saw this big radio telescope dish, and it made us think of a great little Australian movie we saw, called "The Dish," I think. It was during one of the Apollo manned moon landing shots. There were several mechanical failures of various components of the communications network, such that for a certain period of time, all communications with the mission went through this isolated dish. A huge wind came up, and based on their past experience, they should move the dish to a neutral position and wait out the windy period. But they gambled that it would ride through it, and ... Well, you should go rent this movie - it's a good one. The deal is, Sharon just read about the same, or similar episode, where all communications went through a little old lady, operating a switchboard in a little town. We don't know if these are different episodes (doubtful), or the movie industry doctored the real events to be more appealing (Would they?). The movie dish was in Parkes, NSW.

About 2pm we turn off onto the road. It's about 6 km to the beach. It's a dirt road, but it's not corrugated very badly, so we ride smoothly. We're talking about something when I see two birds chasing each other, then landing in the short grass on our left. We stop excitedly, and get a pair of Richard's Pipits. There are quite a few of them around.

Now this is something all experienced birdwatchers will attest to. Once you see a bird like this, that you know is common and will be around, then you don't spend any more attention on it. The next one we see, will take up about a half-second of our conscience thought, "That's a pipit," and then we'll move on. It becomes a sort of "Where's Waldo," where the common birds fade into the background and don't use up any of your bird-analysis energy. It's a very good, comfortable, extremely useful tool.

So we drive along, "Pipit, pipit, pipit," till suddenly I see two birds doing the same KIND of thing, but as they drop into a bush I see definite bright red - BRIGHT RED! - on one of them. I check behind and jam on the brakes, pulling over to the side. "I may have a Crimson Chat!" I yell to Sharon, and I get my binocs on the bird. The second bird has flown out. Sharon yells, "GET ME ON IT!" and I can't even get two words out that make sense at first. But then I get her on the remaining bird with the red. It goes up, back down, up, lands again, perches, turns, and you know what? It's an incredible CRIMSON CHAT*, with red rump and red underparts. We are awestruck. This wasn't one of the expected birds for this spot, and that's what makes it so much fun.

The bird flies out to the shallow ditch in front of us, feeds a little, showing off obviously, then takes off. We high five, and get on the road again. Boom! Three more Crimson Chats chase each other on the left, fly across the road to the right, and one in particular lands on top of a bush, and shows just unbelievably brilliant red in the sun. Dark brown wings, red crown and chest, black swath through the eye and down the side of the neck, and wonderful contrasting white throat.

The bird is in the dictionary, under "breathtaking."

We just can't believe how beautiful this bird is. We take it in till we're afraid we'll explode, then move on in. We're looking for Chiming Wedgebill and Orange Chat. Actually we had been looking for Orange Chat when we saw the Crimson Chat.

On the road in to the beach, over a stretch of about two kilometers, I'd estimate that we see about 10-15 Crimson Chats. And how lucky are we to see that. {These birds have periodic "irruptions" as do other birds, in which their numbers increase in certain years, probably due to increased food supplies. And suddenly you will see them all over when in other years they will be rare. This must be an irruption year.}

OK, back to earth. We also get Zebra Finches near the samphire. Then we continue on to the junction where we turn left and take the last 2 km or so to the little camp and turnaround. There are people camped here, and one fellow has his insect net on, over his hat. We wave and smile knowingly, and give him the thumbs up. He nods his head.

We head out when Sharon gets on a couple of birds. We stop, rig for birding with flies attempting to crawl into us, and head out into the samphire and scrub. Sharon says, "I've got two fairy-wrens, both brown." Meaning either females or males in non-breeding plumage. We manage to get the scope, and we've prepared for this situation now, by studying the bird identification guides. We get a totally clear, unmarked face and that means WHITE-WINGED FAIRY-WRENS*. We're a little disappointed that the brilliantly plumaged blue and white male isn't with them, but you can't have everything. And as always, I question whether we are seeing things that aren't really there, or ignoring things that are there that we don't want to be. Are we making variegateds into white-wings? We don't think so and decide to count them.

We drive out a little further, and get more brown movement. We don't get out into the flies this time, and just scan, looking for and hoping for the blue and white male. Then BANG! There he is, sitting in the sun, surrounded by about five or six light brown females. He appears to be black, not blue, but I am primed for this from the bird ID books, and from our experience that a black bird can look white in the right light, and a blue bird can look black in the right light.

White-winged Fairy-wren

So at first we see black. Well, the deal is, that there IS a subspecies of this bird that is black and white, but it's on a couple of islands off the coast. So as near as we can make out, this bird MUST be blue. So we move the truck a little, angle our bodies right, then left, all inside the motorhome. Then, there it is, I see it as dark, dark blue, just before the bird changes bushes. "Let's chase him," I say, and Sharon is all for it.

We suit up for flies, and out we go. We chase those birds for fifteen minutes, and get an endless view of brown fairy-wrens, but never see the big guy again. I ask Sharon what she saw for color, and she reports that all she ever saw was black. She just never saw it at that one angle I did.

We are tickled about this though, because that sort of confirms our analysis of the pair of birds we saw earlier, when we tagged them as White-wings.

We finally drive back out, and see another six or eight Crimson Chats on the way out. We stop several times, hoping for Orange, but never get it. I pick up the digital voice recorder, and say, "OK, let's review. The last seven birds were: crimson chat, crimson chat, crimson chat, crimson chat, crimson chat, crimson chat, white-winged fairy-wren. How's THAT?"

Now it's not that these two birds are rare or anything. The Crimson Chat is nomadic and irruptive, and we guess that this is a very good year, or else the drought has driven the chats away from their normal inland stronghold, towards the coast. {Once again, I have editted Bob's report and added information early in the report that he talks about later, i.e. the information about irruptions. You may have noticed this before and wonder why we both are giving you the same information. I guess I could read his WHOLE report before I add comments of my own, but what fun would that be?}

I found Kasey Chambers' CD today, and we play it as we roll out to the highway. We do the swap-drivers-so-Bob-can-sleep-a-half-hour thing, and that is SO refreshing. Plus we don't lose any time if Sharon does that backup driver bit. Way to go, Sharon.

We drive till quarter till six, and that's late in these light conditions here in Western Australia at this time of year. We stop at Wooramel Roadhouse, refuel and sign up for one powered site for the night, only $14, but the new record for worst. Only our analysis is: electricity for air conditioner? It's "lovely."

We get a female Rufous Whistler singing some nice tunes for us in the caravan park. Today in the Carnarvon Woolworth's Mall, Sharon thought she heard a man talking on a phone long distance, and he said, "So it's Governor Schwarzenegger?"

We don't have TV tonight and can't get news from Calif., so we play back all the videos we've taken so far, except the one that starts in lower Queensland. I can't find it till I get all the stuff put back away. We'll watch it another time. We have big laughs watching what we've filmed. Lots of attempts at taping birds, mostly futile. And lots of plain scrub and desert, all of which is beautiful to us, but the thing that's funny is the thought of putting this into a video to show most of our friends. "This is our 17-week Australia vacation. That, behind all those branches, is a beautiful Splendid Fairy-wren." And so on.

And that's it for the day.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 2 (Crimson Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren)
For the Trip: 288.

Trip Birds Today: 2 (The 2 Lifers)
For the Trip: 346.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Wooramel Roadhouse & Caravan Park, Wooramel, northwestern Western Australia

 

Thursday, October 9, 2003. Day 57 of 118. Peron Peninsula

OK. Our last three life birds, in succession, were Spinafexbird, Crimson Chat and White-winged Fairy-wren. Those are three pretty cool birds.

Two small Welcome Swallows perch on top of their nest under the overhang of the petrol station at the roadhouse because they no longer fit inside. Parents feed them steadily. Last night Sharon took a look inside the women's toilet block and said, "I'm using our toilet." She said the roadhouse one was terrible. We use the rest rooms of the caravan parks where we stay to minimize how often I have to empty the motorhome's toilet cartridge, unless they're terrible or it's the middle of the night or it's freezing, etc. {The truth is that during the night and first thing in the morning, Bob usually goes outside and uses the camp bathroom, but I don't like to run over in my pajamas so use the one in our RV. God bless Bob for emptying the toilet cartridge.}

This morning I go to use the men's and it's pretty bad. I think the roadhouses, as a group, are the worst. Which sort of makes them the best, story-wise. And this roadhouse takes the record for the worst of the worst. {I liked the one that had a sign in the bathroom that asked "Please close the toilet lid to keep out the green frogs.}

As we pull out, a little before 630am, the parent Welcome Swallows are over the meadow, collecting insects for their progeny. We're on the road, headed for Denham, at the north end of the Peron Peninsula.

About 730am, we pass an unusual scene, so I pull over and we check it out. We can't ID this beautiful wader-type bird at first. But we finally get it, and it's a very dapper Banded Lapwing, with three chicks, and they're all walking away from us.

A half hour later, we pull over again because I saw birds similar to, but different than the others of this type. We finally ID three WHITE-BROWED BABBLERS*, and while we're doing this, we hear the unmistakable call of another bird, which we chase down and locate singing from the top of a small tree. It's the CHIMING WEDGEBILL* and we can see the pointy crest on his head, but we're immediately on a honeyeater, which turns out to be of the Singing variety.

We are using our insect netting, and being a person who likes to estimate things, I will estimate that there are, oh I don't know, about a MILLION flies per square meter. They are all over Sharon's back and she says they're all over mine. {We have a music CD here by the Pigram Brothers in which there is a song which talks about the "bush flies riding on your back"}

On the road again, I can see an occasional White-browed Babbler fly across the road, flare and land in a small bush, showing that wonderful light, contrasting tail band.

We get a couple of nice Willy Wllies up ahead of us, but they dissipate before we get there. We pass some samphire flats on our right, and we bird a little, but there are no Orange Chats.

We arrive in Denham a little before 11am, and it and the turquoise bay and white sand are gorgeous. Maybe like Santa Cruz in 1960, I imagine.

Denham, Western Australia

We drive down to a lagoon beyond the town, on the road toward another town, called Monkey Mia. We are in the samphire before you can say sapphire, but the Orange Chats are not present at the moment. We get a very nice Variegated Fairy-wren, and its behavior makes us turn our thoughts back to another group of fairy-wrens we saw this morning.

Ocean View from Denham Lagoon

This Variegated bird is not afraid of us at all. He pops onto the top of a bush, faces us for a few seconds, rotates 90 degrees, then starts singing his heart out. Fantastic. But the four or so light-brown birds we saw this morning were very skittish, and wouldn't let us get a good look at them at all. They spent a lot of energy staying OUT of the line of sight. At the time, based on their plumage, we thought they might be female Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens, and possibly a non-breeding plumaged male. And the behavior of the bird we're looking at makes us think even more that this morning birds were Blue-breasteds. Nevertheless, we're not confident enough to claim them. We want to see a male in breeding plumage.

We finish up at the lagoon, go back into town and fill up.

We decide not to stay the night here, but to get down the road, so we take off, heading south.

We talk with the motorhome people, and at our request, they have scheduled us to do the 80,000 km service at a Mercedes diesel service shop in Perth this coming Tuesday at 830am. Glad that's all set. Next we need to connect with birder guide Frank O'Connor. I've swapped emails with him at foconnor@iinet.net.au, and he has a website at http://members.iinet.net.au/~foconnor , which is just excellent.

We want to hire him for either a half day, a full day, or two days, with a night of spotlighting, and I want his advice on which would be the best value, but we have to wait till we get into mobile phone coverage.

We come to the Hamelin Pool turnoff, which we take, because we want to visit the stromatalytes. These were among the first creatures on earth that were alive. They lived in water, and they sat there in clumps of maybe 5 billion per clump. The job of each one was to take in one carbon dioxide molecule and burp out one oxygen molecule. They sat there for 2 billion years doing this, along with similar ones all over the world. And during that 2 billion years, those little oxygen burps finally raised the oxygen in the atmosphere to the 20% or so that it is today, and set the stage for the next lifeforms to develop, including you and me and Robin Williams.

We walk around the boardwalk over the water, take some photos, breathe what feels like extra oxygen-rich air, check out a few Singing Honeyeaters, then head back out again. We hit the road, Jack, headed for a roadhouse for the night. This isn't our preference, but it's a practical necessity, because we don't want to drive an extra hour or two to get to a better sleeping place.

And so it is we come to Billabong Roadhouse & Caravan Park about 430pm, and check in for the night, after refueling. After we pay for the camping site, they say, "Now the electricity will be coming on at 530pm, and be shut off tomorrow at 8am."

We drive in, get our spot, hook up to electricity, open the windows for cross-breezes and begin our half-hour wait. About 535pm, I try the electricity, and great news, it's on. We can hear a generator cranking away somewhere in a series of buildings.

Shortly a woman comes out and asks, "How about water? Do you need water?" And we say, "No, we've got water." And she says, "I could bring you a bucket." We love this statement and sort of wished we had said yes.

The motorhome interior starts cooling down with the A/C, and we really appreciate that. We have dinner, and since there isn't any TV (Imagine THAT), Sharon reads while I update the day's happenings.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 2 (Chiming Wedgebill, White-browed Babbler)
For the Trip: 290.

Trip Birds Today: 2 (The 2 Lifers)
For the Trip: 348.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Wannoo Billabong Roadhouse & Caravan Park, Wannoo, WA

 

Friday, October 10, 2003. Day 58 of 118. Kalbarri National Park - "The Midwest"

Australia has a midwest also, only it is different than the midwest of the U.S. Here, it's the middle portion of the west coast, from a north-south point of view. If it were in the U.S., it would be the region from San Francisco north to the Oregon border. And it's great wildflower territory.

A woman comes out in her nightgown and fiddles with the gate around 530am, so I guess we can go whenever we want now. It's partly cloudy, the sun's just coming up and it looks like it will be a good day. Temperature 15.5 degrees, or 61 degrees F.

Yesterday I began to notice that the roadkill vacuum cleaner birds were crows and ravens, not kites. We haven't seen a Whistling Kite or Black Kite for a long time.

We hit the road about 630am, and we are in definite forest and wood habitat. A black-cockatoo flies over, and there are lots of trees and red, red dirt.

We quickly begin to see that we are about to drive into fog. I can see the wind blowing the fog from right to left, and a car's headlights look faint ahead. But when we get inside, we're not in fog, but under low, full cloud cover. There's no moisture hitting the windshield, and we can see the same distance ahead as if we were in total clear skies.

The habitat changes from all low bushes, each about 5-6 feet tall, and completely covering the ground, to tall open woodland.

We make a driver change early this morning, but good stuff is coming up so fast, adrenaline winds me up and I can't and don't want to sleep. This area is famous for the beautiful wildflowers this time of year.

We begin dropping in altitude, down into plains with golden grasses on both sides. There is a 20-30 meter area of thick bush between the road and the grass. We can see that the grassland is planted crops, maybe wheat. We are definitely in farmland now.

Soon, there are lots of sheep in paddocks or pastures on both sides of the road. We cross the Murchison River, and a few minutes later reach the Kalbarri turnoff and exit stage right. An Australian Ringneck flies across our path.

Now we are in rolling hills, like those on the prairie side of Versailles, Missouri, where I was born. It is mostly farmed fields, with interspersed areas of thick woodland. Now there are patches of yellow flowers on both sides of the road. We see two kinds of hay bales, or whatever it is that's being harvested. There are mixed rectangular and cylindrical bales in the same fields, and how do they do that {and why}?

We quickly get into wonderful heath on both sides of the road. Most of it is flowering, and we come to a patch where birds are on top of several bushes and trees. It's 730am and Sharon pulls over to the side.

I want to stay here two minutes and then take off, but Sharon feels that there is so much activity, we should bird here. I reluctantly agree, but soon am so excited about the bird activity that this is clearly the thing to do.

We have been looking for a certain kind of woodswallow for ages now, and here it is, zooming around, perching on top of trees, taking off again - the MASKED WOODSWALLOW*. Beautiful grey, with a black face, separated from the grey by a thin white borderline.

Two Crimson Chats pop up, and fly across the road, and are now IN the road. Fantastic. A White-cheeked Honeyeater perches in the top of a tree. A hoped-for Black Honeyeater turns into a Willie Wagtail in short order.

We get a couple of Pied Honeyeaters, then begin to hear the same call coming from all around the heath. We can't see a bird making that sound, so it seems that they are calling from below the upper heath perches.

We decide to go into the heath, and snake (Sorry, Sharon, I COULD pick a different word...) our way in, finding a clear area. I have brought the scope. A bird flies up from the ground, perches near the top of a tree, and we get great scope views of the WHITE-FRONTED HONEYEATER*. This bird is a little oddly named, in my opinion, because the term "fronted" means "chest" to me, but for this bird, it applies to the face, in front of the eyes. The bird doesn't care what its name is, and is a very nice bird.

The flies are thick, and we have our nets on. I count 13 flies on Sharon's back, and later she says that I must have a hundred on my back. Ha! The flies like ME best.

Intending to stay in Geraldton tonight, we decide to move on. Our target is the road to Hawk's Head, recommended by Wheatley, and is down the road 15-20 minutes. But when we get there, it is closed for maintenance and reconstruction of some kind. Dangit.

We drive a little distance, then pull into a parking area off the road a bit and have breakfast, listening for birds. Nice breakfast, no new birds. The fun thing is that I play the tapes of the Black, then Pied Honeyeater, and the birds we heard calling over and over in the heath area where we stopped is the Pied Honeyeater.

We decide to drive on and take the track to a famous tourist spot, Nature's Window, captured in post card photographs we have seen. But the road is terribly corrugated, and it is 25 km in. About 7km in, I finally talk Sharon into skipping the trip there. Part of this decision comes from discovering that what she thought was going to be a waterfall, is in fact a dry, sheer drop.

We make our way back to the main road to Kalbarri village, and continue in that direction, arriving in Kalbarri. What a great little village.

I try calling Frank O'Connor and get through! He hasn't checked his email lately, and I tell him about the one I sent. He will check it and we'll talk by phone tonight, regarding whether to do a half, full, or double day with him.

In the meantime, he asks if we have Fieldwren yet, and we don't. He gives us other tips on Western Corella, Black-tailed Native-hen and the Rufous Fieldwren, which is at Red Bluff, behind a caravan park.

We drive down to the caravan park, and turn right to the parking area by the Indian Ocean. We climb to the upper area of the bluff, and after listening for a few minutes in the wind, I play the tape of the bird. Not at first, but then after a bit, Sharon hears the bird first. We climb higher, and play the tape again. This time we get three responses. We pick one and walk that way. I play the tape once again, and Sharon gets a bird popping to the top of a bush, but it's back down to the ground before I can get it. Then another one pops to the top of a bush back in the direction we came from. RUFOUS FIELDWREN*. Way to go, Frank!

Sharon stops to admire some "pose"-ies, and we see a strange vehicle - probably a rental - drive out onto the carpark-that-is-a-rock, stop, and its two passengers get out.

Next we drive to the top of a famous local hill, hoping for Redthroat. We walk the trail and play his tape, but don't get any response. So we have lunch, then try once more, then take off, heading for the Murchison River crossing again and some birds Frank said might be there.

I finally run down, and have a nap while Sharon drives us all the way to the bridge. We get out and begin birding, along with the frustrated flies on our netting. The river is full of Australasian Grebes, many with young. An adult dives, comes up with a small minnow, wiggles it in front of one of its chicks. The chick responds by ignoring the adult, and diving itself. A White-winged Triller does his call, and there are lots of Coots in the water, and we see their babies too, swimming along beside the parent.

Several birds are moving around on the ground, and the first one has a yellowish belly, but it disappears and is replaced by a pair of birds. These are black or grey and white, and we make them out to be SOUTHERN SCRUB-ROBINS*, by comparison with their images in our ID books.

We finish up at the Murchison and head out, heading for Geraldton. It's about 445pm and I have never seen so much wheat. More wheat than you can eat, and there are still the bush borders on both sides of the road.

We make it to Geraldton about 530pm and have a nice relaxing evening. We are in a caravan park that's right on the beach, the Indian Ocean just over the sand dunes. There is an internet kiosk, and I can check email, but can't connect my laptop or send out any reports. That's ok, there aren't any ready anyway. We learn from our emails coming in for the first time that Arnold Schwartznegger was elected govenor of Calif. Wonder what that will mean for the state? We didn't get to vote, dang!

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 4 (Masked Woodswallow, White-fronted Honeyeater, Southern Scrub-robin)
For the Trip: 294.

Trip Birds Today: 4 (The 4 Lifers)
For the Trip: 352.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Sunset Beach Holiday Park, Geraldton, WA

That's it for Report 19. Next stop - Perth.


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