One sure sign that you continue to be alive and kicking, both physically and between the ears, is that you are still learning something new as you pass through this mortal coil. Only the dead cease learning – and then some would argue that the jury is still out on that particular old chestnut. Yesterday [Saturday 9 April 2011] Fay and I found ourselves learning something new. Actually, two new things.
We’d been threatening to do it for more than a year but something always seemed to arise which drove the intention onto the back burner; something we would definitely do tomorrow. I’d even acquired the appropriate telephone numbers to contact… and duly misplaced them somewhere along the clutter on the tomorrow shelf. Two weeks ago I finally telephoned the Newsletter editor of the South Burnett Field Naturalists [formerly the Murgon Field Naturalists]. My timing was almost impeccable. They had a projected outing to on private property coming up soon – details in their current Newsletter which Harry would post out to me anon.
There was only one slight problem. The Field Nats had scheduled 0930 hours as their starting time. Clearly the organizer was not a birder. Or perhaps he was of German extraction! [aside: you have to know the ethnic make-up of the leading lights in the Nats to appreciate that small jest]. Mid-morning might well be a sufficient time in boreal quarters to start birding but it didn’t apply to austral conditions. No self-respecting Australian bird would be around that late in the day- except of course the usual, usually large, species that seemed to revel in making their presence known to all and sundry at any time of the day.
Nor had Fay and I realised that this was to be an all-day affair with the Nats bringing along breakfast and lunch for later- not to mention copious quantities of water. We already had a pressing engagement for later that afternoon.
Lesson No.1: Field Nats start late and finish late.
We’ll be better prepared for our next venture with this group [I paid the man our subscription fee out in the field].
Fay and I of course arrived early, partly to make sure we could find the place and partly to get in some birding before the day became too hot. We’d only ever been to Kumbia once before, passing through en route to somewhere else.
The drive to the township itself was straight-forward enough, it was basically at the other end of the Brooklands Road, part of which we travelled regularly in our quest for birds. However, experience, often of a bitter nature, warned us that an address numbered 1563 indicated a drive of at least 15km from some junction or other and the name Ironpot was new to us.
As it was, there was no problem and we found ourselves parked outside the property entrance well in advance of the scheduled start time. It was at a convenient T-junction with a track [undoubtedly the “old road” before the current bitumen was laid] leading off back towards the last bend we had negotiated.
The weather, however, was against us in both birding and photographic terms. Too windy. Nevertheless we did manage a list of some sorts before the Nats began arriving, including reasonable views of a pair of Australian Ravens Corvus coronoides. We added to the list while on the property which, together with the list of species recorded en route, made for a reasonable tally: 15 en route, 18 at the property itself.
Australian [Nankeen] Kestrel
Australian [Black-shouldered] Kite
Oh yes, Lesson No.2: when “bush-bashing” with a vehicle beware of grass seeds, they can insinuate themselves into your radiator and once in are virtually impossible to remove – ever!