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Monday, 2 February 2015

Kamarooka An absolute treasure!

So another weekend and another trip with Matt, this time as the Portland Pelagic was a fizzer and didn't run for the 2nd time in consecutive months we decided to hit up Greater Bendigo National Park Kamarooka Section, after a few phone calls back and forth we had decided on another ridiculously early start of 4.30am. So it was a early alarm wake up and and in the car at 4.20am on our way up the Calder Hwy to Bendigo. A quick detour at Maccas just before 6 am for some breakfast and a hot coffee and we were on our way down Bendigo-Tennyson Road just as the sun started to rise. The first birds as always was a small flock of Australian Wood Duck on the farmers dam just on the edge of the forest. The birds had yet to start calling as we turned into Campbell Track on our way to the Old Distillery Dam. Usually we stop at least once or twice before getting to the little turn off (easily missed if its your first time so keep a look for the gap in the fence on your left about 300 metres from the turn off), but as the birds were still being relatively quiet we scooted through and parked on the grassy area just inside the gate.
As the sun started to hit the trees which was trully beautiful the first bird was a stunning juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk who glistened in the sun.
   Collared Sparrowhawk

Weebill, White-eared and Brown-headed Honeyeaters were calling from the trees just around the first small dam. Superb Fairy-wrens were moving through the understorey and a lone Australian Magpie sat on one of the exposed branches and called beautifully.
   Brown-headed Honeyeater

We headed towards the large dam along one of the paths which is usally a good spot to get the Brush and Common Bronzewing, we flushed a Bronzewing from the low shrubs but was unable to follow its flight and lost it in the tress, we continued towards the largest dam where we found a few other things including a family of White-browed Babblers. 
   White-browed Babbler

Not much else was around as we fought our way through the tangled scrub until we had circled around back towards the dam, here we had flushed another 2 bronzewing but this time at least was able to get binoculars on them to identfy them as Brush.
We headed off on foot down the path/ road heading back towards Bendigo-tennyson Road which is our normal route, always something down this way, today was no exception.
It was relatively quiet to start, White-eared Honeyeater being the most dominant in the first 200 metres but as we got further down the birds started to change, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters become vocal as did a very close Crested Bellbird. These birds have been an ultimate pain in my bum for the last 2 years, slowly getting from hearing one, to a small glimpse to then a scurry across a path and today i didnt have any expectations of actually seeing one again. As we were trying to find the Shy Heathwren which we located last trip relatively easy here, we couldnt find any but the Crested Bellbird seemed to be getting closer. As we were looking up into the trees a group of Honeyeaters flew into the tallest tree, chasing each other round and round. One of the Honeyeaters looked different, hard to explain but just didnt seem right, the majority of them were Yellow-turfted but this 1 bird was sitting differently. 
   Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
   Purple-gaped Honeyeater

Matt and I both got excited and after many photos and trying to remember the field guide in my head, what bird has yellow ear coverts, grey head and yellow throat, i couldnt think of anything other than Purple-gaped Honeyeater but this bird didnt have a purple gape. Excited to possibly have a new lifer 405 awaiting better larger views on the pc when home. 
After this success i was 99% certain it was, we took off in search of the Crested Bellbird, i thought we would be chasing this one around for hours, it would have been a new bird for Matt so had invisaged this to be a chase the bird from tree to tree wthout a view, but to my surprise, after playing the call i saw a bird fly to an exposed branch in a tall gum, which was way taller than the others around so was easily to see, i got my binoculars on it and realised it was a Crested Bellbird, a few seconds of madness to try and get Matt onto the bird, which we both succeed in doing, and i was even able to get pictures for myself.
   Crested Bellbird

For the next 10 minutes we followed this bird from large tree to the next sitting out in the open for us, a totally different experience to what i have come to know from this so called elusive species. 
A few birds called as we headed back towards the car, Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called loudly and a small group of Striated Thornbills sat out nicely for us. We got to the opened grassed area and heard the buzz contact call of the Red-capped Robin, we looked up to find a semi-adult male sitting just above our heads, a little manouvering got the bird in good light and we were able to get some awesome photos.
   Red-capped Robin

Back in the car we headed along Campbell track, its always a good thing when you been somewhere before as you have a rough guide where to next stop because you got birds there previously, and this was no surprise as we stopped about 200 metres from the dams to the exact same spot as last trip to get a nice couple of Inland Thornbills. They responded well to callback and we got a few photos and left.
   Inland Thornbill

Next stop was a few crests along the road where there is a section of road that the soil is white rock/ mudstone and easily noticeable. This is one of the best spots for some Honeyeater species, and today it was no different, Tawny- crowned and White-fronted Honeyeaters were flitting around, Shy Heathwrens werent co-operating today but did get fleeting views of them scurrying in and out of the low shrubs and we did get Variegated Fairy-wren as well. Its an awesome spot to stop, you wouldn't think it when pulling the car up but after a bit of patience it certainly does deliver!
   Tawny-crowned Honeyeater

From here we headed towards Millwood Dam which is to the left when you get to the t-intersection of Campbell Track and Millwood Road, turn left and head down about 100 metres and the dam is on your left hand side. Again thanks to last trips knowledge we got Chestnut-rumped Thornbills on the road just near the car.
   Chestnut-rumped Thornbill

Yellow-faced, Yellow-plumed, Fuscous, Brown-headed Honeyeaters all heard and seen just from the car, and as we followed the dry river bed, we came across White-browed Woodswallows, Brush Bronzewing, more Weebill and a family of Superb Fairy-wrens.
Its an awesome place to stop, didnt know this even existed until last visit after getting some details on the best place to find Purple-gaped but it still eluded us here.
   White-browed Woodswallow
   Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
   Brush Bronzewing

Back in the car after a coffee and watching a few awesome looking Orange Wasps in a mating ritual.
   Orange Wasp

We headed up Millwood Road heading towards Mulga dam which was going to be our last spot before calling it quits, we drove along Millwood Road up until Harrower Road, as we were in a 4x4 we headed down it, not overly bad but only been down it once in a normal sedan, being in a 4x4 was definitely easier. A few stops along here got us some more views of Fuscous Honeyeaters, Jacky Winter but not much else was really about, we continued down Harrower Road until it hit Camp Road, we turned left and headed to Mulga Dam. As usual the dam itself was surrounded by Fuscous Honeyeaters, but not much else.
   Fuscous Honeyeater

As we headed off to see if i could find the roost tree on Mulga loop where we found an Australian Owlet-nightjar, no luck this time but did get too see Brown Treecreeper, another calling Crested Bellbird and a pair of Peaceful Dove.
   Peaceful Dove

Back at the car the last bird was a very friendly Eastern Rosella which posed just above Matts head and called profusely. 
   Eastern Rosella

A quick drive out as our second mission of the day was to try and locate the Square-tailed Kite that had been seen in Huntly the previous week, we headed to the chicken farm where it had last been seen, drove around the back streets and came across an elderly gentleman that said he had seen a large kite in his backyard ( behind the chicken farm) that had been harrassed every day for a few weeks by Noisy Miners but he hadnt seen it for the last week. (damn). 
Anyways we still needed to have a look for ourselves so we drove the streets of Huntly hoping for some action, we only got many Musk Lorikeets, Noisy Miners, a lone Australian Hobby and a large nest in a farmers paddock which looked good for a raptor but no action around.
We had planned to head off to Greg and Janice house for a late BBQ lunch and a meet and greet so reluctantly we headed off, another time Square-tailed Kite i will find you!!! A few sausages later and a beautiful lunch put on by Greg and Janice and a few yarns later it was time to leave, just nearing 6 pm Matt still needed Common Bronzewing for the year, we walked across the road from Greg and Janice's places and a pair of Common Bronzewings posed nicely. 
   Common Bronzewing

We had decided to give the Square-tailed Kite one last crack, and heading down the Calder Hwy towards home we pulled up in Ravenswood, where we saw a plethera of raptors, just not the one we were after, many Black and Whistling Kites, Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle, Brown Goshawk and a Peregrine Falcon. 
   Whistling Kite
   Little Eagle
   Peregrine Falcon

Was a great way to finish another great day out in the bush, another long one but so much fun with Matt. Again thanks to Matt for his awesome photographic skills and photos which without them would make this blog photoless!!

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