Report No. 25. Tuesday, October 28 thru Thursday, October 30, 2003. Finishing the Nullabor. Adelaide Environs.


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2003. Day 76 of 118. Victor Harbor to Pinnaroo. Finishing South Australia.

As Sharon was watching TV last night, the crappy picture suddenly changed to perfect. What the? We looked at each other and said, "What?" There was a howling gale so we put the antenna all the way down, and guess what! The picture was still perfect.

This morning it's like we were hooked up to cable. Real cable. Something's fishy with the TV antenna or connection to it. Well, we'll look into that later. Time to book.

The sun is shining, there's a blue sky up high and we're headed for Gowra today, then north up the coast to Port Elliot, for a quick coastal birding check. As we leave, Sharon points out a sign that says, "Undercover Barbecue." That seems to go hand in hand with a sign I saw coming into town yesterday, and that is, "Investigative College." We know that the barbecue sign just means that you have rain protection, but we're not sure about the college sign. Make up your own story.

This morning there was an advertisement on TV for Woolworths, but the Aus-TRY-un version comes out Woo'wuths, which me of what granddaughter Samantha used to sing - "Baa baa black sheep, have you any woo." Hi Samantha, you little snicklefritz.

We hit Port Elliot around 9 am. There is a very strong wind, clear sky, with just a few clouds, and nothing but gulls. No cormorants of any kind of faces. There is, however, a big plaque showing where all the shipwrecks are in Horseshoe Bay.

We hit the road again, coming upon a winery as we round a corner. A stream runs over a waterwheel, and drops into a marsh. Nice pastoral scene. The stream turns out to be Finnis River, as we go over a low water bridge and I have to stop to shoot a photo with a special light, moving water, a big spreading tree, purple flowers and blue sky. Very nice.

We go through farming country with a pasture on the left, and a grass crop on the right, both recently harvested. Trees separate the road from the paddocks.

Then it starts getting exciting, as some mulga and mallee start to show up. We come upon a pasture full of strawnecked ibis. We go through the town of Milang, and we are at Lake Alexandrina, our destination. We stop at a little park and scan, but don't get much. A Noisy Miner, a wattlebird, some rainbow lorikeets.

We move on and come to a wetland habitat, where there are about a thousand birds spread all over the place. We get Pink-eared Ducks, Silver Gulls, Black-necked Stilts, both spoonbills, pelicans, great egrets, cattle egrets in full breeding plumage, some kind of tern. There are more terns than any other bird. We were hoping for Fairy Tern, but they are too grey for that. Then while scanning, Sharon locates our other target bird. "I got one, look at this," and she gets me on it with my binoculars. I'm sure she's right, and we get out the scope to check out five CAPE BARREN GEESE. We got a pair of these in New Zealand on a peaceful picnic lake, and they were advertised to be wild, but I've always felt a little uneasy about that. Now I can say for sure that we've seen wild Cape Barrens. They are grey, with a snubnosed bill. From a distance, it looks yellow, and there's a bit of a white cap on the crown. They usually stand or sit off the edge of water, and that's what these are doing.

There are also Strawnecked Ibis, and something unusual to me - thousands of starlings down in the wetlands. A Caspian Tern stands alone on a tiny island, and a harrier patrols the edges of the marsh. Neither of us sees a white rump then, but later we see this bird or another, and it does have a white rump. White-faced Herons always look much smaller to me when they are standing than when they are flying.

A little bird flies in and perches on top of a bush. I immediately think, "New bird!" But it is a male House Sparrow, with a black band on its chest rather than a spot. Sharon says she saw a program once on house sparrows, and the alpha male has the biggest chest spot. This guy is definitely in charge.

We start making our way out of this area, heading north. We pass a vineyard, and a fellow is walking down the rows with a clipboard in his hand. We wave and he returns the one-finger-to-the-cap salute to us.

We pass a farmhouse, and come upon a great scene for us - about 200 Cape Barren Geese out in a green field, chomping on the grass bits. A little further on, another group of fifty are doing the same.

We come to a place that reminds us of England. It is suddenly obvious that we have to cross a patch of water on a ferry. It's free, and we come around a corner just as the operator is about to leave. He sees us, opens up his gate and motions us to come on. We come on, and there are three or four cars on the small ferry, all on the left side. Then we notice that the ferry makes its way back and forth by being attached to a cable under the water. It's the mechanical equivalent of just pulling yourself along, hand over hand. Pretty cool. Sharon doesn't have time to get scared. Two minutes and we're across.

Ferries are Free in Australia

I try to think of something cool to say to the operator, and as we pass, I say, "Good job. Thank you." and we wave. So then, in my mind, I become him. "Good job? What do you mean good job? All I do is sit here and do the same stupid thing all day long. Idiots." I tell Sharon my thoughts, and she cracks up.

Now we're after Rufous Bristlebird, which our Wheatley's says is in the Coorang National Park. It gives a general area to look for it, but not particular. I need to use one of my "life lines" - I need to call Greg Anderson.

We pull over for lunch, and I change the digital video cassette, inserting Number 5. We're on daylight savings time now, so I also change the video camera's time. And then, most important of all, I have a fudgesicle.

About 130 pm, I stop to refuel, and then I call Greg at work. I say, "Hi. Greg?" And Greg, says, "Gordon!" I say, "No, Bob Lutman," and he laughs and says, "Hi Bob. You sound like Gordon." Gordon was one of my roommates when we were all in graduate school at Stanford, and it was Gordon who put me in touch with Greg.

I ask Greg if he knows where the bristlebird is here in the Coorang, but he says that we need to go to the Great Ocean Road, and we can see the bird biting people on the foot in the carpark, and cavorting in the green grass. Well, not quite that easy, but in that vicinity. We also review our plans and he confirms that Little Desert National Park is good, and then suggests that we go to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park also, a little further north. I have asked Greg for detailed instructions on finding Tasmania's key birds, and he has gathered most of that already. He says he'll email me that stuff in the next couple of days. And then we're back on our own.

I tell Sharon about the new plan, and she's up for it all.

We pass an ostrich farm, and a little later we come upon three emus. We are listening to a station in Broken Hill, and they are having a huge dust storm. We hope that this isn't reaching as far south as Hattah-Kulkyne, and we gamble that it isn't, continuing on with our plan. Adelaide had huge winds that knocked down trees and caused associated problems.

We decide to stop in Pinnaroo, and make our way to that small town. They have a tiny caravan park that is just about as basic as it gets. A sign on entry says, "Manager To Call." We don't know exactly what that means, but our guess is that we just pick our own site and the manager will come around later and collect the money.

It is right next to an aviary and animal park, apparently run by the town, and you just go over and look at them. It doesn't cost anything, except listening to the corella screaming in your ear. There's a couple of Major Mitchell's Cockatoos, Red-rumped Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, some Galahs, and some other birds. {Princess Parrots it turns out as we check our books}

Then we notice that outside the aviary, but inside the fence with about a dozen kangaroos, are three emus. As we approach the fence, they come over to check us out. And we hear the strangest sound you can imagine. One of the emus is opening his mouth wide, then closing it hard, as if to clap his upper and lower bill together. But the sound that comes out is a deep rumbling "OOOOOM!" We look at each other and I say, "I didn't know an emu could make THAT sound." Sharon says she didn't either.

We go back to the trailer, and Sharon looks up the emu. They make this noise when they come upon something unusual that they aren't familiar with, she reads.

We have lamb chops for dinner and they are tasty. After dinner and dishes, we go over to try to get the emu to boom for the camera. We are moderately successful, and if you are lucky, you might get to see and hear this someday. Or find your own emu, and if he thinks you are unusual, he will boom you too. {Or, alternately, you might get lucky and NOT have to watch all our videos of Australia. How we do love those of you who aare patient enough to watch all our videos. I always think of those people who would drag out several cassettes of slides in the old days and show you all their pictures from their trips.}

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 0
For the Trip: 348.

Trip Birds Today: 1 (Cape Barren Goose)
For the Trip: Still 413.

Bird Upgrades Today: 0.
For the Trip: 2

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 11.

Sleep in: Pinnaroo Caravan Park, Pinnaroo, east South Australia


Wednesday, October 29, 2003. Day 77 of 118. Pinnaroo, South Australia to Ouyen, Victoria. Pink Lakes and Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Day 77? Hey that's 11 weeks. "Only" six more to go, or a little less.

Today we will cross the border from South Australia to Victoria, and set our clocks forward a half-hour. This will put us into the same time zone as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Tasmania - all the eastern states.

Sharon makes herself a cinnamon shake donut, because there isn't enough cinnamon on the donuts she has. So you get a baggie, sprinkle some cinnamon in there, put your donut in there (after warming it up real nice in the mackawave), then shake it a bit. "Mmmmmm," says Sharon.

Oh, I wish I was in Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, Oh, I wish I was in Victoria, Vic-to-ri-a to-day.

We leave behind the animal park and aviary, headed for Ouyen and Hattah-Halkyne National Park. Minutes later we scratch one banana, and one more border crossing.

I get my wish.

We get our first Victorian camel, outstanding in a farmer's field. A White-winged Chough flies up from the road and tries to hide in a tree. Love those white wing-patches. They remind me of a World War I fighter biplane, with the big circles at the ends of the wing.

Railroad tracks run beside us on our right, mallee on the other side of that. Savannah short grass is on our left.

We have swapped drivers, and I wake up in Underbool, as Sharon is driving us through. She starts talking about what she's seen, and the phrase "Pink Lakes" hits me. I forgot to tell her about this birding spot that Greg mentioned yesterday. I tell her, and we decide to turn around and go back.

We go back to the turnoff, and as opposed to those terrible washboard roads in the Top End, this dirt road is excellent - smooth and even.

Somewhere around here is a family with a TV which gets excellent reception because a rabbit just ran across the road with NO EARS.

Now there are crop lands on both sides - short grasses, wheat on the right. We enter Murray Sunset National Park.

845 am and I can see a pink lake off to our right. There is medium grass, maybe a foot tall, on both sides of the road. Another White-winged Chough flies up from beside the road.

I stop to check out a grey bird on a snag, and it's a Masked Woodswallow. Then across the road, on another snag sits a beautiful White-browed Woodswallow. The one we saw up in the Northern Territory was a female. This is our first male, and is spectacular. Very pronounced, extra thick white eyebrows and a bold maroon chest and belly. Definitely an upgrade to our lifer.

Birds are suddenly everywhere, as we get a Bee-eater, a Budgie and a Cockatiel. Several Budgies actually. A Red-rumped Parrot flies, and we come to Lake Hardy, the first of the pink lakes we will encounter. We check the information board and the bird list for this lake and it's enticing. A Pied Butcherbird calls from behind us.

There is a campground, and we decide to go there. You never can tell what kind of surprises you might see in campgrounds. As we slowly drive in, we see a group of parrots fly through and perch in some bushes. We get on them and they are definitely new to us. Finally I get one very clearly, and we are looking at a group of BLUE BONNETS*, a type of parrot with a blue face. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why these birds didn't have blue heads, but then I remembered that Aussies call the 'hood' of a car a 'bonnet.'

A group of four White-winged Choughs scratch at the ground and we get our first Mallee Ringnecks. They seem prettier than the other Ringnecks we've seen. They are a subspecies of Australian Ringneck, and so aren't technically a new bird for our list. Still, I feel as if we've seen a new bird.

We come upon a couple of campers - a mother and daughter, it seems to me. We wave to them and drive through, turning around at the loop at the end of the campground, and drive back. Sharon says, "I want to use the toilet," and it almost registers with me.

I drive right past the toilet, and Sharon says, "You drove right by the toilet. I said I wanted to use it," and I say, "I heard you say that, but it didn't make it through the processor," or some such nonsense. Sharon had her window down while we are having this short conversation, and suddenly a couple of Blue Bonnets fly up from the road, and fly right for us.

One flies over but one comes right for the window, suddenly realizing what he is almost in for, and manages to change his flight path at the last moment. "Wow, a parrot almost flew right in your window," I tell Sharon. Innuendo? No innuendo about it, he was coming right in!

I turn around and drive back to the toilet, where the daughter says to Sharon something like, "There are creepy crawlies in there," as Sharon starts to enter the building. But that doesn't scare Sharon off. Nosiree. She says something like, "As long as they're not big and poisonous." That Sharon.

We continue on toward the next lake, and soon get a bird on a snag to our right. We stop and get on the bird, and it's another upgrade - an adult Black-eared Cuckoo, much better plumage than the juvenile we got a few days ago.

Continuing on we get three emus running away from us, single file, and it's quite a sight to be looking right down their track as they jog away from us, joined by two others after a few seconds, then all five settle down.

We hear part of their unique communication, using my high-tech sound booster gear. One says, "Do you call yourself an E-moo, or an E-myoo?" The others just ignore the first one, as she's the only one able to speak English. I mean have YOU ever heard two emus speaking English to each other?

We continue on to another couple of pink lakes, and what we get mostly is millions of flies, so after a bit we stop getting out of the vehicle, and stop rolling down the windows.

We come to this one right hand turn and stop because four or five birds are flying across from left to right, right at the turn. It is thick brush on both sides of the road. We get on the birds and it soon becomes clear that it's a mixture of about two-thirds Masked and one-third White-browed Woodswallows. This stream continues for at least two minutes. I estimate that maybe 200-400 birds flew across the road, in groups of 4-6 at a time.

It is one of the very remarkable and special things you see in the birding world, totally unexpected and awesome. Why did the 400 woodswallows cross the road? Ask the emu.

We stop for lunch at Lake Vernon and Sharon reads that the pink color of the lakes is due to betacarotene, the stuff that gives carrots their color. Wait a minute, carrots aren't pink. Sharon gets a Regent Parrot.

We head back out and get a Singing Honeyeater on the way, and a little after noon, we're back on the main highway, headed for Ouyen.

We refuel in Ouyen and make a mental note of where the caravan park is, then turn north, headed for Hattah. A sign says watch for Malleefowl next 45 kilometers. We arrive in the tiny town of Hattah, and turn right, then make it to the visitor center, where we hope to ask for the latest information on the birds we're after. Unfortunately, the center is unmanned, and we're on our own. Well, we have the where-to-find Wheatley guide's instructions.

We drive the old highway, and wade out into the brush in a couple of spots. We get Weebill, Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, a juvenile but musically-savvy Rufous Whistler, then a surprise Sacred Kingfisher.

Suddenly, as we're driving along, we see a Shingleback in the road, and I choose this time to have Sharon take pictures of me holding my first one. The little skink doesn't seem to happy with the situation, and I put it down as soon as we've got the picture. He seems a little frosted and lets us know.

"I'll call my Mom"

We pick one last spot, park the motorhome, and walk up a track about a kilometer or less. I have my bird tape CD and we alternate call grasswrens and emuwrens. We turn around, and on the way back out suddenly, we get the ultra-high pitch sound we've been dying to hear. Emuwrens! And incredibly, as we're on the track, heading towards the motorhome and main gravel road, there are three emuwrens. One to our left and behind us, one ahead and to the left, and another ahead and to the right.

And all three are coming from the ground, thick with spinifex.

We don't know which one to go for, and we don't know how to go. Do we wade in and hope to flush it? Go in quietly hoping for a glimpse? Do nothing and wait for one of them to show? Play the tape and hope for something?

Our choice finally is to listen, occasionally playing the tape. The sounds finally stop, and we listen for two or three minutes, then decide to walk in towards one of the sounds. I walk all the way around the group of spinifex plants, but get absolutely nothing.

So our conclusion is that the bird either sneaked away on the ground, flew while we weren't looking (impossible!), or is just hunkered down in there, protected by the thick spinifex.

We get nothing with the other two locations either, but we're sure we were in the presence of three MALLEE EMUWRENS*, the little devils. We walk back to the motorhome, pack away our gear, and drive the old Calder Highway back out to the main highway, getting a Jacky Winter on the way, beside the road.

We were also hoping for Malleefowl, but got nary a sign.

Then by about 700 pm, we are in place for the evening in the Ouyen Caravan Park.

After dinner, I try to test my Southern Skies Star Wheel, but there are too many lights in the park to do any good. Plus it's a little cool.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 2 (Blue Bonnet, Mallee Emu-wren - heard only)
For the Trip: 350.

Trip Birds Today: 2 (The two lifers)
For the Trip: 415.

Bird Upgrades Today: 2 (White-browed Woodswallow males in full adult plumage, Black-eared Cuckoo adult perched on nearby limb).
For the Trip: 4

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 11.

Sleep in: Ouyen Caravan Park, Ouyen, northwest Victoria


Thursday, October 30, 2003. Day 78 of 118. Ouyen, Victoria to Horsham

The alarm goes off at 630 am. It's warm and cozy in bed, cooooold outside and we reset it for 7 am. When it goes off the second time, I walk over to the toilet. There are blue skies all around, and it's freeeeeezingggg. When I come back, Sharon is up and she says, "Oh No!" referring to the cold air that comes into the motorhome with me.

I unplug the electricity, store the cable, turn off the propane, stow the step, and Sharon sets up for travel inside (TV antenna lowered and locked, all drawer and door buttons pushed in to lock, lights off, water heater off, water pump off).

As we get ready to pull out, we see a man across the highway in the sheep pens. There is a dog with him, and he has a clipboard. He's writing figures on the clipboard as he walks past the sheep. Suddenly, I'm unaccountably sleepy...

I shake myself awake and by 8 am, we are on the way, headed south on B220 highway. A sign on the left shows a picture of a Kangaroo, and another shows a Maleefowl and says next 10 km. To which I say, "Do you promise?"

The countryside is cropland. Railroad tracks are on our right, with mallee between the road and the tracks, and mallee beyond the tracks.

A funny thing happened yesterday...

I carry a small pocketknife with an ivory toothpick and a pair of poor tweezers stored in special compartments on either side of the knife. I use the knife a little at Christmas to cut through extra tough package wrapping tape, the tweezers never, and the toothpick all the time.

My intention for this trip, before reaching the San Francisco International Airport was to store my knife in my regular luggage, but I forgot, so I had to surrender my knife at the security checkpoint. I did, however, take the toothpick and put it in my pocket before giving up the knife. That was August 12.

I hadn't been able to find that toothpick anywhere. I had no idea what happened to it. Eleven weeks without my ivory.

We had to buy a pack of wooden toothpicks at the beginning of our Australia trip, in Sydney, and I've got old and new wooden toothpicks in jacket pockets, coat pockets, motorhome dashboard pockets, all over the place. And all because I couldn't find my ivory toothpick. Furthermore, they all fell out of their original package, and are all over the bottom of the motorhome kitchen drawer where we put the package.

Yesterday, I was walking with my black jacket on when I felt something unusual through the lining of one of the pockets. I felt and felt, and you know what? Something, in the approximate shape of a toothpick was in there, stuck in the lining, just waiting to be "threaded" back through the pocket lining and into the real world again.

I worked the what-I-hoped-was-my toothpick out of the lining, back into the pocket, and sure enough, it was my ivory toothpick. Ah, I got my mojo back.

Now for the next part of the story.

My right-hand pants pocket has an inner pocket for keeping a key or a coin, and I keep my bird squeaker in there. I put the toothpick into that little pocket so I'd have quick access to it.

About ten minutes after I made my miraculous toothpick discovery recovery, I pulled the squeaker out to try and entice a bush bird, and unbeknownst to me, the stupid toothpick comes out with the squeaker, and falls on the ground. I discover it's missing about thirty minutes later, driving down the road. I have no idea where I lost it. Well, some idea. Let's see, it was in Australia, and it was in Victoria.

So that's the funny thing that happened yesterday. OK, OK, it wasn't all that funny. {Christmas hint: someone could get Bob the smallest Swiss Army knife, the one with the toothpick and tweezers, for Christmas.}

We pass through Beulah, in the Barley Belt, about 9 am, and make a driver change. I go to sleep just after catching a Kookaburra flyover and listening to the tail end of what I thought was "Grandpa got run over by a reindeer," but turned out to be "Osama got run over... "

I wake up as Sharon is getting us into the first edge of the Little Desert National Park - a self-guided walk at the southern edge of Dimboola. We get a thornbill and a Superb Fairy-wren, but that's about it. I drive us out of Little Desert, and along Wimmera River, for a short time.

We come upon four or five thornbills down on the road, and as they fly up, we get a front row view of their yellow rumps. We also get Red-rumped Parrot, a Willie Wagtail and a few ravens.

We refuel back in Dimboola at the BP, and then head south on the road that will get us into the main part of Little Desert National Park, and some new birds, we hope. I don't mean we hope the road goes there, I mean we hope we get some new birds.

As we pass some sheep in a paddock with 6-inch grass, we see some small black birds flying up and then back down into the grass, beside the sheep. They must be doing the same game as the Cattle Egret, who wait by the feet of the cattle, for insects to declare their colors.

We continue driving south and about 1 pm, Sharon says, "There were some corellas on the grass back there," and I think about this in terms of "Do we turn around and go back and check them out, hoping for Long-billed Corellas, or just keep driving, possibly driving by our last chance at Long-bills?" And what would long-bills be doing on the ground, aren't they like the long-billed black cockatoos who use their long bills to crack open lar ge seeds? Ant then Sharon reads in her book that long-billed corellas dig in the ground for bulbs and "corms" whatever those are. We have to go back.

We talk it over and decide to go back. I U-turn and back we go. If they are Long-bills, they'll have pink "necklaces" or hints of them. And of course, they'll have long bills - extra long parrot-like bills.

As we approach them, we can see the three birds are still there, and that they have pink on the necks! Actually, they have so much pink that at first we tell ourselves they might be Major Mitchells. We check their bills, finally getting out the scope, without the tripod. We just rest the scope on the top of the half-rolled-down window, and we can see their obviously long bills! All right, LONG-BILLED CORELLAS*. Way to go Sharon.

We then return to our original direction, soon coming to a self-guided nature walk in the heart of Little Desert National Park. We stop in the carpark, and take off. It's a little cool and windy, but at least it's not raining.

We are hoping for Purple-gaped Honeyeater and Gilbert's Whistler. We get some thornbills right away, and then two of the cooler robins - Red-capped and Scarlet. We hear a plaintive, extra-high peep in the Mulga, but never get it in view to identify. We get a pair of White-naped Honey-eaters and a probable Yellow-faced Honeyeater, though it takes getting back to the motorhome and checking a bit for this ID.

But no Purple-gaped, no Gilbert's.

We head out again, ultimately passing through the town of Mitre, which is close to a huge rock shaped like the thing the Pope wears, which Sharon informs me is called a mitre. And this is called Mitre's Rock. This is right in the middle of farmland and looks a little out of place.

There are sheep and lambs all over the place. We pass through Natimuk, and this is a Tidy Town. We make it to Horsham about 5pm. I was hoping to make it to Hall's Gap, but we can see that this would take longer than we want to spend on the road this evening. Sharon locates us a Big 4 caravan park, and we make our way over there.

After we check in, the manager shows us to our site and tells us a bird story, after we reveal the purpose of our trip. He says that he used to be a park ranger, and ten or fifteen years ago, the local population of Australian Magpies was pretty unruly, and they were shooting some to thin out the ranks, apparently. But he was against it.

A woman, one day, asked him to shoot this magpie in their yard, because it was harassing her son. He told her just to put a hat on her son. Then, he continued, the woman put the hat on, sent him out to play, and the bird put one of the boy's eyes out. At this punch line, the manager turned and walked away, saying over his shoulder, "and I shot every magpie I saw after that."

Later Sharon said to me, "I don't believe he shot that magpie." I said, "I didn't believe it. It sounded too contrived." I figured he shot it with his bow and arrow. Anyway, he told us the magpies here are tame because they feed them evey day. {I decide to feed them too and throw out some old bread that I save for just this purpose. Magapies come along with a willie wagtail and some magpie larks. The magpie larks keep chasing away the bigger magpies and then I watch one fly up to the tree above me and I see she has a nest and watch her as she feeds a baby and then sits on him to keep him warm.}

After we had the motorhome set up, and were getting our usual crappy reception, the manager brought over another family to show them their site. I asked him to come over, and just tell me that this is the kind of TV reception everybody in the caravan park got. He began to explain that we were quite a way from the repeater station, and there was nothing that could be done about it. I told him to hold that thought till he saw our reception.

He stepped into our motorhome, and said, "No, that's terrible. It should be a lot better than that."

Now all this is a ploy, so I can ask him my real question. "Do you have a ladder so I could get on top of the motorhome and check the connections?" I ask. "Yes. I'll just bring it over," he says, and five minutes later, he drops it off.

I set the ladder up against the motorhome, climb up and station Sharon in the door of the motorhome so she can see me and the TV at the same time. I ask her to describe the reception. "Bad," she says. "OK, I'm going to tighten this connection at zero. Three, two, one, zero," and I tighten the first connection, which seems a little loose. "Perfect! It's perfect! Just like that."

Somehow, the connection vibrated loose over the 11 weeks we've been out. It's hard, roughing it without good TV reception.

That's it for Report 26. Hug the ones you love.

Bird Summary:

Life Birds Today: 1 (Long-billed Corella)
For the Trip: 351.

Trip Birds Today: 1 (The lifer)
For the Trip: 416.

Bird Upgrades Today: 0.
For the Trip: 4

Snakes Seen Today: 0.
For the Trip: 11.

Sleep in: Wimmera Lakes Resort, Horsham, Victoria

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