Monday, December 26, 2011

A quest for Superb Lyrebird - Dandenong Ranges National Park

A week of birding in Victoria was my Christmas treat again this year. The aim of this trip is to tick at least 2 Lifers – Superb Lyrebird and Pilotbird.
Christmas Day found me driving to Victoria from South Australia.  After a long drive I arrived at a little town called Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges. First stop was  the Dandenong Ranges National Park.  I hiked in to Sherbrooke Falls from Sherbrooke Picnic ground which was ridiculously busy with tourists who were feeding the Crimson Rosellas. Thankfully they all appeared quite happy to stay there and I hardly saw another soul on the walking trail.

King Parrot, Laughing Kookaburra, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed Scrubwren,  Large-billed Scrubwren, Grey Fantail, Rufous Fantail, Olive Whistler, Eastern Whipbird were all enjoyed before finally I spotted my target species, a Pilotbird!  It was sitting on a log, I got good views but sadly when I tried to get close enough for a photo I flushed it. It jumped down behind the log and although I waited for 10 minutes  no amount of phishing convinced it to come back out. I was still stoked to see it and told myself I have 2 more days here to try to find more of them.  I only hiked for about an hour in the afternoon before a huge thunderstorm put an end to my birding for the day.

                                                                        Crimson Rosella

King Parrot

Eastern Yellow Robin

Today started at 6am after a very stormy night. It was still raining but I needed to get these birds so I was out and back hiking along the Sherbrooke Falls track even though it was still very dark and wet. It was so humid that my glasses were totally fogged and I could hardly see where I was walking. After walking the entire length of the track I headed back to the picnic ground. 25 metres before I got there I finally spotted 2 Superb Lyrebirds on the track up ahead! Woo Hoo! It was 7am, spitting with rain, too dark for photos – got a blurry shot and gave up trying.  I was happy, they are an AWESOME bird!

A short drive to Grants Picnic ground - another section of Dandenong Ranges National Park, in Kallista and a hike along the Lyrebird Track provided crippling views of a vocal Male Lyrebird who wandered leisurely through a gully only 450 metres along the track. I was much happier to get such a good view this time. The gully was very dark with a creek running and the Lyrebird walked out and crossed the track in front of me. He was calling and feeding.
I then continued onto Neumann’s Track and found another 2 further up. These 2 were in an area with a bit more light.  I was able to snap off a few photos but it was difficult as it was STILL raining and the light was very poor.

The Leeches were in abundance and as I seem to have no self control and continued to leave the track to follow birds through the dense understorey I gave up counting how many of them I had to remove. The most adventurous one managed to attach itself to my face!

                 A mad dash across the track - I'm amazed I managed to take this photo in time!

                The usual view of Superb Lyrebird - retreating quickly into the dense understorey

So 2 more lifers I can now relax and enjoy the rest of my trip.  Where to now, that's the question!!

Stay tuned....