Monday, 20 July 2020

TWENTY YEAR PROMISE - BIRDING SOUTH OF LONGREACH



An important part of the outback road trip is to [occasionally] stay in outback pubs. [As well as to see the wildlife and their habitats.]
  
An Australian Bustard
And it was a great pleasure to have a couple of nights in the Golden West Hotel at Isisford and to see an experienced couple of publicans; Ken and Anne, smilingly taking on the daily task of running an outback pub. “We just love pubs”, claimed Anne and of course many do, but for Anne to claim that when it involves such long days and seven days work a week is extraordinary.
  
I watched them work [because I like watching people work more so than doing it myself] and I watched them greet every new-be, including us, referring to us by name, serving us drinks of course, Ken racing out the back to man the tools in the kitchen, “Had to make 50 meals last Friday,” he boasted with yet another smile. They slowed down with closing time at 10pm but I am unsure of how much time was taken to return the kitchen to a spotless state.

In the morning, in the kitchen at 7am, Ken is already up and smiling, “You right to get yourselves coffee and toast?” Steve and I have an instant coffee, white bread toast, as no doubt hundreds have before us, and a long chat and when we are ready to leave Ken is insistent, we leave the dishes on the sink. He is not going to do them straight away though as he is starting to make Coleslaw for the lunches.  Anne, meanwhile, has started collecting laundry from the 14 or so rooms….

Steve remarked how great it was to have an old school type bar where one left his money on the bar, to both mark territory and intent, with zero concern about the safety and security of one’s wallet. For Winnie, Steve’s wife, he had only one beer each night – as did I….
  
Black faced Woodswallows
We had travelled to Isisford to fulfill a twenty-year old plus promise to myself.


 
Black Kite
Over 20 years earlier, before the thought of children definitely, and marriage possibly, I travelled with my girlfriend, now wife, Megan and my parents and a good birding friend, Jo Wieneke. We had come to Isisford to do a trip into Idalia National Park. Sadly, though as we arrived so did some rain. Between Isisford and Idalia are black soil plains and with surprisingly little rain they become unpassable mud; so, our plans to visit were dashed. Idalia held birds of course, but also it is one of only a small handful of parks in Queensland to hold populations of a sub species of arguably the most attractive of our rock wallabies – The Yellow-footed. This is an animal I wanted to see.

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo
A very common specie; White plumed Honeyeater
From Isisford Idalia is still an hour and a half drive to get to the front gate. And then there is kilometres of tracks within the park.
Crested Bellbird


The drive down took us a little longer than an hour and a half as we made a few stops for Kangaroos, Emus and, more impressively Bourke Parrots and Blue Bonnets, and a few other species.
 
Bourke's Parrot

Bourke's Parrot


Birding in the park was quite good with some of the highlights including Hall’s Babbler, Little Woodswallow, Brown headed Honeyeater [at the outer extent of its range?], Eastern Yellow Robin [at the western extent of its range] plus other common interior birds such as Zebra Finches, Singing and Spiny cheeked Honeyeaters, Crested Bellbirds, Purple backed Wrens, Spotted Bowerbirds etc.
 
Red Kangaroos

Zebra Finches
Purple backed Fairywren

Singing Honeyeater

Little Woodswallow

At the northern parts of the park I got my lifer; a clear view of a Yellow footed Rock Wallaby, for all of about 6 seconds, naturally hopping determinately and quite quickly away from me. So, as is often the case, lifer however better views required.
 
Hall's Babbler
 
Wave Rock in Idalia NP

Brown headed Honeyeater
Maybe in another 20 years?

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