Report No. 20. Saturday, October 11 thru Tuesday, October 14, 2003. The Four Days of Perth

 

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

Saturday, October 11, 2003. Day 59 of 118. Arriving in Perth the Last Day of the First Half of our Trip

We pull out of our campsite, but before we leave the area, we both go to the top of the dunes, and then Sharon gets a couple of photos of me down by the Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean, near Geraldton

"I'm going down to Geraldton - to get some sand in my shoes..." - Johnny Cash, after a fashion

Now I'm not saying that people stay here a long time, but Sharon sees a sign on the way out of the park that says, "Garage Sale, Site 21." I'm guessing their kids married or moved out, and they're selling off all the extra stuff. Then they'll downsize to a smaller site.

In Geraldton proper, a store shows a ceramic pot and is named "Pots 'R Us." Another store says "Paint 'N' Quip." So you go in, buy your paint, then tell a clever story before leaving. We fuel up in Geraldton at the BP and get a nice, free window wash.

We leave Geraldton, on the Batavia Coast. A Dutch ship, the Batavia, was commissioned by the Dutch East Indies company. {Sharon tell this story - the mutiny, etc.} Oops. Again, I accidentally sent the report out without having Sharon proofread it, so she didn't have time to fill in the {} I created, nor to correct any errors I may have made, should there have been any.

Now the countryside we're driving in is fenced on both sides. There are no heath or scrub borders between the fields and the road here. There are meadows and farmland, sheep, cattle, hay, grasses and small hills, all set off by a cool sand dune ridge to our right, beyond which lies the Indian Ocean. Man, it's like we're in a whole other country...

We pass two huge patches of purple flowers, and they are beautiful. We swap drivers and I doze off. While I'm asleep, a fellow on a motorcycle passes sharon and suddenly her windshield is hit by lots of small objects. She thinks the motorcycle somehow threw up gravel, but then she realizes that she drove through a swarm of bees. Every time she slows down a little, another bee slides down the windshield, released from being pinned against the patch of the vehicle created when the over-cab portion of the motorhome was connected to the top of the windshield.

Now you won't believe this, but while I was sleeping, I had a dream, and none of those things happened in the dream. Imagine my surprise when I woke up.

I'm driving again now, and there is a thick shrub border on each side of the road again, about 20-30 yards on each side. Beyond these lie huge pasture land, with cylindrical hay bales all over, some encapsulated in turquoise and some in green plastic, to protect them from the weather.

We stop at a roadhouse for Ampol diesel and lunch, near Cataby. A young man with 'David' stitched on his work shirt fills us up. He's a competent guy and washes the windshield without asking. The roadhouse says, "25 HOUR DINER." Sharon tosses some bird seed out, and the local Australian Ringnecks (parrots) help themselves. Blue cheeks with red on the forehead. We don't check and don't notice if they have yellow bellies or not. The red makes them the Port Lincoln's race of Ringneck, telling us that we have moved into semitorquatus territory.

We see a White-backed Magpie, subspecies dorsalis, here at the roadhouse. We get another one where the white goes down to the beginning of the tail, but the tail itself is black.

My GPS has limited memory, and I couldn't get all of Australia loaded. So I chose certain parts of the country, and we have just come into the Perth region. We have actual roads, railroad tracks and rivers on the GPS map now. When we're outside these loaded regions, the GPS shows only grey screen, except at the coasts, where it shows the coastline, created by making the oceans black.

We want to buy groceries, and the village of Gin Gin is 20 km down the road. As I come around a corner, I begin to see a gravel pullout to the left, a police car parked in it, a policeman standing in the road waving me over, and a policeman standing next to the car in the pullout. They signal me to drive onto the pullout, then pull to the far end of it. I wasn't speeding, what is this?

I roll down the window as I come to a stop next to the policeman. He's holding an electronic device in his hand, with a hollow tube sticking out of one end of it. "G'day," he says, "This is a random breath test. Seal your lips around this tube and blow on it till I tell you to stop." I blow, and he says, "OK, thank you," and waves us on.

Sharon digs into the glove box, pulls out the video camera and says to me, "Ask him if he'll do it again," but there are four vehicles behind me waiting for their random breath tests, and I don't want to hold them up. Sharon says, "This is great. In the U.S., you have to announce ahead of time that you're going to do a breath test next Tuesday or whatever, and where it's going to be." It's gone the way of the "sneak" preview at the movies, where they announce what the movie is going to be and when. Apparently, common sense is still alive in Australia.

Doesn't the world like surprises any more?

Sharon tells me a most incredible detective story. This certain disease didn't exist until two people married each other in Dutch South Africa a couple of hundred years ago or so. Their children carried the genes for this disease, as did their children's children, and on down the family tree. OK, hold that thought.

The wreck of the Batavia and the mutiny on the HMS Bounty may or may not have resulted in survivors living out their lives in Australia. No one knew whether this was true or not.

Enter one researcher in 1990, who traced this unique disease and uncovered the fact that the areas of highest incidence of this disease were the Pennsylvania Dutch people in the U.S. and a group of aboriginals in Australia. This was genetic proof that there were Dutch survivors who passed on their genes by having children with aboriginal women.

I love this ingenious research.

We make the turnoff to Gin Gin, and find all the shops closed for the day. There is a boardwalk leading past a stream, and we decide to do the walk. On the way, we watch a Maglie-lark slip from its perch, flip upside down, but manage to hang on with only one foot. He's squawking and waving his other foot around, and can't figure out what to do. He decides to let go, falls a foot or so, and grabs on to a branch and rights himself. "I meant to do that," we hear him say.

Gin Gin

A Grey Fantail comes to Sharon's alarm call early in the boardwalk, followed by a SILVEREYE. We don't get much else on the boardwalk, and we take off again, moving ever closer to Perth.

We hit the Great Northern Highway about 330pm, having been on the Brand Highway since we left Geraldton.

Fifty kilometers out of Perth, it feels like we're in Kentucky horse country. There are paddocks and horses everywhere, with black or white fences enclosing the grassy pastures. The Melbourne Cup will be held November 4, and this is the biggest race of the year in Australia. It'll also be a big day in my life, being my birth day. It's a handicap, meaning horses of any age can run, or more specifically, three-year-olds can run with older horses.

Sharon says to tell Nancy B that now it feels like we're in Napa. Every house seems to be surrounded by a field of grapes. Winetasting signs are everywhere. Sharon also says that in her country, a field of grapes is called a vineyard. We are in the famous Swan Valley. Other little homegrown businesses sell cheese, Christmas trees, farm instruments, all sorts of things.

Last night, in a cricket match, a famous player had 380 runs in one game, for a new world record. Ah cricket, what IS this game anyway? I can't bring myself to learn the rules of a game that doesn't exist in the U.S., or not that I'm aware of anyway. They say stuff like, "What an innings of power!" and "It was running into tea on the second day." What is this strange mix of singular and plural? And tea? I'm sure if I lived here, I'd learn all about rugby, cricket, Aussie rules football and soccer, but I'm just a football (American style) and baseball guy.

We decide on a place to stay and pull into the Perth International Tourist Park, east of Perth about 4pm, and at 430, we are buying groceries in the local Coles store.

We load up the groceries, zip back, and I get on the internet, finally able to print out Frank O'Connor's detailed directions, spread over five great pages. Back at the motorhome, we get the TV channels set up and checked out, and Sharon gets directions to a meeting tonight.

We make our way to the Baptist Church, and stay from 530pm till 610 or so, ten minutes after it's supposed to begin. No one else shows, and Sharon says to me, "I get credit."

We head back home, and decide to do our second McDonald's visit of our vacation so Sharon doesn't have to do any dishes.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: -1+1=0! Discovered that Common Sandpiper, seen and claimed on September 1, was not a life bird, since we saw it in Scotland last spring: -1. Added Black-faced Woodswallow, seen on September 8, but never counted: +1.
For the Trip: 294.

Trip Birds Today: +1+1=2! (Silvereye: +1. Also, never counted the Black-faced Woodswallow as a trip bird: +1)
For the Trip: 354.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Perth International Tourist Park, Forrestdale, suburb of Perth, WA

 

Sunday, October 12, 2003. Day 60 of 118. Easy Sunday Perth Birding.

It's mostly cloudy, with blue here and there, rather cool at 16 degrees (62 F). We choose Whiteman Park out of the choices listed in our "Birding Sites Around Perth," by Ron VanDelft, because it has the most possible life birds for us. It's north of Perth, and takes us 30-40 minutes to drive there.

The park says it doesn't open till 9am, but the gates are open so we drive in at 730 and go to a bit of water, parking in a nearby carpark. We get three adult Wood Ducks, with five teenagerers paddling along behind them. The first of many Australian Ringnecks flies over.

We begin a walk towards the Children's Forest, and get a beautiful pair of SCARLET ROBINS*. They came immediately to Sharon's call. There is also a nest over our head. A bird is going in and out of the nest, and it's a WESTERN GERYGONE*. It's fun watching the nest bounce around, caused by the bird bumping against it from the inside.

A Kookaburra is perched on a horizontal tree across the way while a pair of Rufous Whistlers do their wonderful whistles, flying back and forth between two sections of the woods.

Two kangaroos watch us walk by, then decide to head deeper into the woods. I squeak my squeaker and this brings in a couple of Gerygones. Then, on a tall dead branch, up pops our first ever NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER*. This will be a very common bird, we understand, but this first one is still beautiful and great.

Sharon calls in a Golden Whistler, or it was here and she got it going. Then suddenly, Sharon says "Look at that blue! Look at that blue!" It is a coolly spectacular blue on blue male Splendid Fairy-wren, far and away the best we've seen.

We decide to do a walk that follows a stream, going by a grassy field. A RED WATTLEBIRD* makes his presence known, and this should be a common bird also.

Down at the end of the walk, Sharon's alarm call brings in Silvereyes, an Inland Thornbill and a couple of Rufous Whistlers.

We decide to wind this up and make our way over to a lake or two, hoping for a couple of rather common ducks in the area. We choose Lake Monger, and by the time we get there, I'm ready for my Sunday nap. But Sharon gets a quick pair of BLUE-BILLED DUCKS* for us before I go under.

An hour and a half later, I begin waking up and Sharon is sitting at the dinette, looking out the front windshield at the lake. I look through the window at the lake too, but don't have my glasses on yet. A dark blob represents some unknown bird. Sharon says, "Bob, come here, quick. I think this is a MUSK DUCK*," and she's right. We want him to blow up that little thing hanging down from its bill, but it won't do it for us. Sharon gets us a pair of AUSTRALIAN SHELDUCKS, with three new chicks.

We make our way to Bold Park, parking near a Christian college center. We start a triangular walk up the hill, and get a nice White-cheeked Honeyeater in some yellow flowers. It begins to sprinkle, and I'm glad I brought my umbrella. As we head further up the hill toward a lookout, the rain picks up as does the wind. And soon, it is raining really hard. Sharon and I are arm in arm, trying to stay close, under the umbrella, but the rain's coming in the sides. I watch the tops of my shoes go from dusty light brown, to wet dark brown. After what seems like an hour, but is only twenty minutes or so, we make it back to the motorhome and inside.

We head for home. Hey we ARE home. We head for our parking spot and electricity port for the night. Our path home looks like it's going to go right through the skyscrapers of the famous Perth Skyline, but it bends left just before we get there. I can't believe we're in PERTH!

Some of the most famous people in the history of the WORLD have never been to Perth. Adam, who said, in the Garden of Eden, "I got more ribs, you got more women?", never made it to Perth.

We arrive back in the caravan park, in place, and it's only 415pm. Ah, a relaxing evening. Do you believe that this motorhome didn't come with a fireplace? Dang.

We have hooked up with Frank O'Connor, and he's going to pick us up here at about 7am tomorrow morning. We're going to Dryandra State Forest, and I'm drooling at the list of birds that we may get tomorrow.

Now where's my drool cup?

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 6 (Scarlet Robin, Western Gerygone, New Holland Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Blue-billed Duck, Musk Duck).
For the Trip: 300.

Life Bird Corrections: +2 (Forgot to count Yellow-breasted Boatbill, seen August 31, and Red-backed Kingfisher, seen September 29)
For the Trip: 302

Trip Birds Today: 7 (The 6 lifers plus Australian Shelduck).
For the Trip: 361.

Trip Bird Corrections: +2 (The life bird corrections mentioned above)
For the Trip: 363.

Snakes Seen Today: 0 For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Perth International Tourist Park, Forrestdale, suburb of Perth, WA

 

Monday, October 13, 2003. Day 61 of 118. Big Day with Frank O'Connor, Ace Western Australia Birding Guide.

We walk out to the front to meet Frank. It rained off and on all night, showers are predicted for the day, and we have all our rain gear. Off to our right is a beautiful and perfectly complete rainbow. And above that is ANOTHER rainbow, much lighter than the lower one. I don't recall seeing a double rainbow before. I take a photo, but like all those UFO photos people almost got, I somehow accidentally delete the double rainbow pictures. Well, Sharon saw it too.

Frank picks us up, and we head off. I start reviewing details from his email, to clear up some things I need help with, and he is an absolute wealth of knowledge about exactly where to see the birds on the list I sent to him. I can't write fast enough to keep up with him. But I do my best.

Sharon helps by saying, "Bob, you should be writing this down," every time I put down my pen and paper.

About halfway there, Frank stops off at Gleneagle Rest Area, on Albany Highway. We get WESTERN YELLOW ROBIN* right away, and then we hear the repeated ascending whistle of a Shining Bronze-cuckoo. We start chasing the sound, but can't catch up with the bird. A nice Golden Whistler shows up to check us out.

As we are driving back out, we get three WESTERN ROSELLAS* feeding in an open grassy area. Two fly to safety, but one stays.

At 8am, we get a flyover of three LONG-BILLED BLACK-COCKATOOS*, then a roadside GREY CURRAWONG*. The Currawong lifts off, revealing its white tail band and wing patches. Very sporty.

We notice a pair of "cockies," as Frank says, and find six more after we pull over. Frank IDs them as more Long-bills by their sound. They have white cheek patches and white on their tails, rather than the red-orange of the Red-tailed Black-cockatoos. The males have white bills and the females grey bills.

We turn left, off the Albany Highway after picking up some sandwiches for lunch at a roadhouse. After a bit, we get clear views of a REGENT PARROT* flyover, but after a U-turn, we can't relocate the bird.

A little after 9, we get a pair of SHORT-BILLED BLACK-COCKATOOS* flying by. Frank hears them first, and Sharon and I both see them. A White-winged Triller calls and flashes its colors.

We stop at the Ochre Trail, and immediately are overwhelmed with new birds. A DUSKY WOODSWALLOW* flies across in front of us, perches, and we see the white line down its wing and white tips on the tail. Extremely elegant. There is blue sky right now, but rain showers are coming and going.

A RED-CAPPED PARROT* male flies from behind us and perches, plus maybe another. Frank does his swish-swish, and calls in a number of YELLOW-PLUMED HONEYEATERS*. We chase a fairy-wren, and it might be a Splendid. But while we are chasing it, we get a pair of BLUE-BREASTED FAIRY-WRENS*. And what colors on the male! The chest is so dark blue that it appears to be black until you get it in just the right light.

Frank yells, "PURPLE-CROWNED LORIKEET*!" and indicates the rattling call. We hear it, but the sound disappears as does the bird, which we never see.

A female Regent Parrot flies in, then we get a pair of Sacred Kingfishers. Kingfishers in dry habitat always seem out of place to me, but of course, these are not. I want them to be called Kinggrasshopperers. We get a pair of the fantastic red and white and black Red-capped Robins, and I get a fair photo of one. Several Varied Sitellas work up and down the vertical trunks of a couple of trees near the robins.

Red-capped Robin

A Weebill does its fussy twittering and then we move to another location that Frank knows about. I think it's Sharon's call that brings in a big WHITE-EARED HONEYEATER*, but it may have been Frank's pishing. We continue driving around and Frank shows us an old Malleefowl mound, not used for a long time.

We stop again and get WESTERN THORNBILL*, White-browed Scrubwren, with its streaked underparts, and then a nice BROWN-HEADED HONEYEATER*. We hear another Purple-crowned Lorikeet call, but just like the first time, it disappears before we even get a glimpse. Man, those birds are quick.

Frank hears Horsefield's Bronze-cuckoo, but as I transcribe these notes, neither Sharon nor I can remember this bird, so we don't count it. We hear a Rufous Treecreeper, and Sharon sees it, but I don't. Sharon comes up with a pair of Splendid Fairy-wrens, and these males are just outstanding. Blue on blue on blue.

Splendid Fairy-wren

And then Sharon spots something Frank claims he would rather have than twenty of the Painted Button-quail we are trying to find. It's a NUMBAT, also called Banded Anteater. A terrestrial anteater, the Numbat is more handsome than the Brush-tailed Phascogale, and WAY better than the mouselike Ningbing False Antechinus. Don't you agree?

We hear the unmistakable call-the-dog rapid upsweeping whistles of the SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO*, and we all get on the bird just as it flies. Well, that'll have to do.

Then, at last, everybody gets on a wonderful rusty RUFOUS TREECREEPER*, working in an unusual place - on the ground. Frank is working like crazy to get us the biggest target bird for the area - the Painted Button-quail. He hasn't missed getting it yet, but we are so delighted with the life birds we've got that we won't be disappointed if we don't get the quail.

A Wedge-tailed Eagle flies over as Frank is walking through the woods to bring the car back around. A nice Western Rosella flies in for our benefit. Here a Rosella, there a Rosella, everywhere a Rosella. This bird is only in the southwestern tip of the country.

As we drive to the next stop, a trio of Western Grey Kangaroos watch us a bit, then go bounding off. Two parents and a little one.

We come to the next stop, and a nice White-cheeked Honeyeater comes to Frank's swishing, and then we finally get the dapper WESTERN SPINEBILL* male. "What a beauty," to quote Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

Western Spinebill

As we are walking through an open area, Sharon suddenly stops and calls us back. She asks, "What is THIS?", and points to the ground. At first I can't see anything because it's so well-camouflaged, but I finally get it. "Shingleback," he says, "Bobtail." So this is the Bobtail, a skink. Reminds me of a Gila Monster in Arizona. Sharon wants me to take a picture, like the one we took when we were near Broome. So I'm ready, and she says, convincing herself and the Bobtail that it'll be allright, "I'll just pick him up behind the head." So it can't bite her obviously - an excellent strategy.

She reaches down and the INSTANT her fingertips touch the Shingleback, it twists around and opens its mouth, trying to bite her. The speed of sound is something over 700 miles an hour. The speed of light is 386,000 feet per second, as I recall. But these would come in second and third to Sharon's hand, as she whipped that baby back away from the skink. Whose blue-tongue I get a nice photo of.

So the photos I get are not of Sharon holding it, but of the tip of her cane sort of almost-poking it. This is to get it to open its mouth. It never does actually try to bite her stick, though it had every reason to.

Shingleback and Sharon's Walking Stick

There are fantastic wildflowers all over the forest.

We finally call it for the day, and start the two-hour drive back to our park, but we stop at Gleneagle Rest Area again for a break and to see what's to be seen. Which turns out to be three nice WHITE-NAPED HONEYEATERS*, high in a tree, and bouncing around very quickly. We get another splendid Splendid Fairy-wren, then the bird Frank thought we'd get this morning - the WHITE-BREASTED ROBIN*.

This was fun because two of these robins showed up at exactly the same time. One was across the road, just to the right of a large-trunked tree, and another was much closer. Now we don't know it, but I'm on the far one and both Frank and Sharon are on the near one. Sharon says, "Bob! Bob! Get on this bird, it's a White-breasted Robin." Parroting, if you'll pardon the expression, what Frank told her. "I'm on it!" I say. Then we take turns describing the bird. She finally says, "You're not on it." I say, "Yes I am, it's across the road, just to the right of that big tree." "No, it's not, it's right here in this scrub."

Par for the course. We're on different birds, but they are the same bird, don't you see. We get a nice Striated Pardalote, then it's straight home. Frank picked us up at 7am, and drops us off at 630pm or so. This cost us only $150 Australian, total, plus $31 for his fuel and about $6 for a sandwich. This is an outrageously good deal, which he tries to explain away by saying that it's only a hobby right now. We nod our heads and give him a nice tip, which is allowed in Oz, especially in the bird guiding hobby business.

I set the camera on the motorhome, and take a photo of the three of us - one outstanding bird guide and two lucky birders.

Me, Sharon, Excellent Bird Guide Frank O'Connor

This is the man for you if you want to go birding in Western Australia, and especially around Perth, where he lives. A world-class bargain. Sharon tells him that he should raise his rates.

We walk back to the motorhome, and I can't remember feeling this combination of tired and fantastic, and Sharon is beaming.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 19 (Western Yellow Robin, Western Rosella, Long-billed Black-cockatoo, Grey Currawong, Regent Parrot, Short-billed Black-cockatoo, Dusky Woodswallow, Red-capped Parrot, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, White-eared Honeyeater, Western Thornbill, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Rufous Treecreeper, Western Spinebill, White-naped Honeyeater, White-breasted Robin).
For the Trip: 321.

Trip Birds Today: 19 (The 19 lifers).
For the Trip: 382.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Perth International Tourist Park, Forrestdale, suburb of Perth, WA

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2003. Day 62 of 118. Motorhome Servicing Day.

Not much happens on this day. We take the motorhome to Diesel Motors twenty minutes away from our caravan park. We wait for the servicing a couple of hours, at which time they call me out to the back and show me a tire that has a rip in it such that you can see inside the tire!

I ask if that happened while they were pulling it off, and they said yes. There is terribly uneven wear on the tire. So it's a new tire for the motorhome. I ask them to call Tom and get approval, and they do. Then I ask them if instead of sending me down to the tire store, they could handle the tire acquisition and installation here. They agree, and for one reason or another it takes till about 230pm to get all this done.

But that's ok, I work on our medical insurance application, fantasy football plans, trip reports, next few days' plans, emails and even get a nap in. I also locate a couple of internet cafes, but they are in downtown Perth, and I can't decide if I want to drive down there just for that.

When we finally get out, we have lunch right in the parking lot of Diesel Motors. Sharon calls and locates an AA meeting at 6pm in Fremantle, only 25 kilometers away. By now it's 330pm, and we decide to go to Fremantle right away, find the Baptist church where the meeting will be, buy groceries and find an internet cafe.

We make our way there, and to me, "Fremantle" means the place where Australia hosted the Americas Cup sailboat races after they were the first to beat the U.S. in umpteen years of competition - or maybe forever, I can't remember. We locate the church, a parking place where I can wait for her, and head off to find an internet cafe and a grocery store.

It takes us a while, but we wind up in the city center, where we find a Coles and a combination internet cafe/travel center. I get my laptop connected to ADSL for $4 an hour, and that's Australian dollars! What a deal!

We spend so much time on the internet, pulling down email, sending off email, and responding to email, that we don't have time to do the groceries. We go on over to the parking spot near the church and Sharon heads off to her meeting a little before 6pm. I spend an easy hour on the computer, and talking to a couple of kids who want to know everything about our motorhome. "Can you stand up in there? Do you sleep up there? Do you have a ladder to climb up? Where are you going tomorrow? Where did you start your trip? Where are you from? Where will you sleep tonight? How long did it take you to get this far?" But then their bus comes, and it gets pretty quiet again.

Sharon comes back from her AA meeting with her knitting and her batteries recharged, and we drive home in the dark, getting one spectacular look at the downtown skyline all lit up and beautiful. This is how I'll remember Perth the city.

We've been in the Perth area for four nights, counting tonight, and I'm eager to take off again.

Bird Summary (no birding today):

Life Birds Today: 0
For the Trip: 321.

Trip Birds Today: 0
For the Trip: 382.

Snakes Seen Today: 0
For the Trip: 7.

Sleep in: Perth International Tourist Park, Forrestdale, suburb of Perth, WA

Some Corrections. Thanks to our new Aussie friends Jo Wieneke and Greg Anderson for passing these along:

Both Jo and Greg point out that a 'stubby' is actually a small glass bottle of beer, so what I called a stubby is in reality an insulated 'stubby holder.' Greg adds that a 'tally' (pronounced TALL-ee, the opposite counterpart of STUB-ee) is an extra large bottle of beer. Jo futher adds that a 'tinnie' is a can of beer, and a slab is a carton of beer - I believe that would be a 'case' in the U.S. A six pack is a six pack.

Also, both Jo and Greg say that a 'cuppa' is usually a cup of tea, not coffee. I guess a cup of coffee might be a mugga. No, that's already a person who would knock you down and take your wallie.

The ever-vigilant Greg points out that my 'spinafex' should be spelled 'spinifex.' It's why he's such a good birder. Dilagence, er, diligence.

I said that the Spotted Harrier was once called the Marsh Harrier. Greg suggests that my fingers probably slipped when I said this, and I WAS having a peanut butter sandwich at the time. Simpson and Day says of the Swamp Harrier, "Recently referred to as 'Marsh Harrier'," but I'm guessing they were having a couple of slabs when they wrote that.

Jo says a 'Jackeroo' is a young man working at a station, or large ranch, gaining experience that will lead to him someday becoming a manager. A 'ringer' or 'drover' is more like our cowboy.

A Pom, or Pommy is an English person, but Jo says it doesn't come from the phrase 'prisoner of her majesty,' but from something else. You may not know this, but a certain segment of the English - cocknies, developed the habit of creating rhymes for things. For example, they called Sydney 'steak and kidney.' And in a similar fashion, an immigrant was a pomegranate, or 'pom.'

Sharon and I learned of this rhyming thing-gie during our UK trip last spring-gie.

Well, that's the first 20 reports. My hats off to those of you who've read every one, and to those of you who haven't read a single one. Oh, and to everybody in between, I can't forget you. Thanks.


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