Saturday, 30 August 2014
Monstrous Day at Kamarooka and Terrick Terrick National Parks Part 1 Kamarooka 30/08/2014
The day had finally arrived, after a lot of organisation to co-ordinate 6 grown men to be ready by 4.30am ( a tough job in itself) for our trip to the north of Victoria. Early morning starts for me are tough but when you have the excitement of the chance for lifers and the possibility of going somewhere new the time is irrelevant!
To my surprise all of the people meeting at my place at 4.30 am were on time (first success) Ross, Owen, Andrew and Richard were ready and waiting with anticipation. We had to pick Matt up on the Calder highway near Sunbury so we split into 2 cars and off we went. Our first destination was Greater Bendigo National Park- Kamarooka Section and after picking Matt up we continued on.
The fog was ridiculous in places as we drove along and on arriving into Bendigo we got there just before 6 am (meaning Maccas was closed). We found some food (Maccas was open 24hr in centre of city) and after getting some much needed food and a coffee we headed off to Huntly.
As usual I missed the turn off to Bendigo-Tennyson Road (3rd time for this you would think I would learn), so after a quick u-turn we were back on the road, heading towards our first stop of Campbell Road and Bendigo-Tennyson Road.
There were a few birds starting to wake from there nighttime sleep, on winding down the window at the start of the National Park we heard and saw a family group of White-winged Chough on the farmers paddock, as well a few Australian Wood Ducks on the dam. Above the road a little further up we had a roosting Brown Goshawk right above the car. With the low fog and continuallylooking for birds I again missed Campbell Road (second time I done this) but as we turned around about 50 metres from the track I heard the first birds.
So on getting out of the car we had calls of White-eared Honeyeaters and Shy Heathwren, but knowing we would get better views later on we got back in car. We headed to the turnoff at Campbell Road, luckily with window down I thought I had heard (been listening to this call for a week) of a Gilbert's Whistler calling in the scrub on the intersection. It did make it hard at first as there was also a Rufous Whistler calling simultaneously but knowing this was a lifer for everyone was well worth the stop.
Standing listening for a few seconds we were rewarded with the call of the Gilbert's Whistler, so everyone being excited we crossed the fallen fence and went in search. We chased this bird for a good 30 minutes back and forth to either side of Bendigo-Tennyson Road where we got fleeting glimpses of it scurrying between trees ( not like a Whistler i normally see as it seemed to like mid range scrub so was very tricky to see) Most of us were happy with this view ( except young Owen, who continued to search for him) and as Owen and Ross went in search of the Whistler once more (Ross taking a fall in the tangled scrub in the process) the remaining 4 of us heard the calls of Crested Bellbird as well as our first Honeyeaters, with White-eared, Yellow-tufted and Brown-headed.
Back in the cars our next stop was the distillery dams on the left, it's a tough spot to find if you havent been there before with no signage ( so keep a look out for an opening in the fence and a small track that leads to a grassy area which is visible from the road). Getting out of the car the first birds seen were Eastern Rosella, Galah and Australian Magpie. Once we were all set we headed to the small dam on the right hand side of the road (visible from car), little birds were prevelant here with Brown, Yellow-rumped and Yellow Thornbill, Weebill, Superb Fairywren and more White-eared Honeyeaters.
We followed the path between the dams still heading right and there is another large dam here, as we headed over the small mound I flushed 2 Pacific Black Ducks from this dam. Red Wattlebirds and Brown-headed Honeyeater the most common bird as was the smallest bird Weebill being very vocal.
After checking this dam and surrounds for other birds, not much to mention though we then headed back towards the road and the path.
Following this path we were able to find lots of smaller birds, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, Silvereye, Yellow Thornbill, Weebill, Grey Fantail and Rufous Whistler were very active and feeding ferociously as the Honeyeaters were also present, Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed and White-eared being the most common.
As we neared the first of the old Mud Brick houses on the right hand side of the track we found a very vocal group of Shy Heathwrens feeding low in the trees, with great views for all had.
Continuing on the this path we found a party of White-browed Babblers scurrying through the trees and I was able to get a visual on a Crested Bellbird that Owen was chasing through the scrub. Ross at this stage separated from the group and found a Little Eagle roosting in a tree as we continued back to the car.
As everyone got back into the cars, our next planned spot to stop was at the crest of the hill along Campbell Road, but as we drove down from the Distillery dam Ross and myself saw a Wedge-tailed Eagle in front and as we slowed down to look we came across what I thought was a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater in the small shrubs on the right. Getting out of the car I asked someone to play the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater call, but not even 2 seconds into the call it responded flying high up into the air and circling above calling loudly.
At this point Owen said he had previously seen Inland Thornbill in this sort of habitat so we tried the call and instantly we we rewarded with a few birds flitting quickly around, making it hard for photos but in the end I think most people got some.
We continued now up to the top of the hill, you know you made it to the spot when you see the white clay area, this is a great little spot, on getting out of the car we quickly found White-eared, Tawny-crowned and Brown-headed Honeyeaters. With a little searching we also found White-fronted and White-naped Honeyeaters, both Superb ( on left) and Variegated (on right) Fairywren and a very distant pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles.
It was around 10.30 am when we decided to head to Millwood Dam ( new area for me) which is accessible from Millwood Road, as you drive to the end of Campbell Road you come to a T-intersection, turning left you follow it down for about 1km and you will find a small dam on your left ( you know you gone too far if you get to farmland on your right).
Once out of the car we found Fuscous Honeyeater in the trees above the car.
Owen and Matt went to the right of the dam and they found a group of Chestnut-rumped Thornbills high up in a gum, anoth new bird for the day, in this little feeding group there was also a few Weebill.
Also of note here was a family group of White-winged Chough, a Brown Goshawk calling from a tree wih a large nest was also very nice.
Back in the car we went, this time to drive along Millwood road with windows down, about 500 metres after Campbell Road turnoff I heard a call we hadn't heard all day and getting out of the car we got great views of Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters in a small party of 10 birds calling loudly above, we followed them around for a few minutes trying to get some photos.
On the farmland side here we also got Grey Butcherbird calling and a few flyovers by a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. In the car we went again and continued along Millwood Road for another 500 metres or so and with head out window I thought I had heard a Woodswallow calling at the same spot Ross thought he had heard some Robins. Luckily we stopped here as it was a cracking spot!
The path on the right hand side instantly gave us new birds, Brown Treecreeper, Crested Shrike-tit, Varied Sittella and Flame Robin were seen only 30 metres from the cars. At this point the activity in this spot was insane, so some people went left and others went right chasing things.
Owen, Andrew and myself went left chasing a calling Pallid Cuckoo which we were able to get a look at, but along this section we got Jacky Winter, more Flame Robins, Buff-rumped Thornbills as well as the extended looks at Pallid Cuckoo. At this point Ross and Richard caught up too us and they got to see the Pallid Cuckoo and the Buff-rumped Thornbills.
As we were running out of time we headed back towards the car, on the way we all stopped and saw what we all thought at start was a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike but once the binoculars hit the birds we realised infact this was a pair of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, they sat beautifully for us for extended periods of time allowing some awesome photos and very special memories.
We got back to the cars and as we still were missing Matt who had wandered off on his own chasing some birds we heard both Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo and more views of Brown Treecreeper and a pair of Brown Goshawks flying above the treeline. The time had hit 12.30 pm as Matt got back to the car and after some discussion we all decided that there wasn't much more we could find at Kamarooka so we drove along Millwood Road until the intersection of Elmore-Raywood Road, along this little section we got Noisy Miner and Nankeen Kestrel to end out a cracking first part of the trip.
Here is the link to my bird list from this part of the trip.