PHOTOS from Junction Pools in Barrington Tops NP

On the second leg of our camping trip in November 2015, after our stay in Nowendoc National Park we travelled southwards to camp for three nights at the Junction Pools campsite in Barrington Tops NP. 

 

The campsite was spectacular, set on the banks of the Barrington River, but the road in was terrible. Classified as 4WD access only, it took us an hour to travel the 12km in along the very rocky track. At least it was accessible. One or two of the other tracks in this national park proved to be a bit too challenging for us with our beginner-level 4WD skills. No doubt the difficulty of access gave us greater privacy, ensuring that there were very few other campers, although a couple did arrive each evening.

 

Text continues below the photos.

Tree martins
Tree martins

This was our first intimate encounter with tree martins. These small, swallow-like birds that are adapted to catching insects on the wing, did everything in groups, nesting, flying and landing.

Flame robin, male
Flame robin, male
Flame robins
Flame robins

The adult male robin in front, has just fed the juvenile.

Brown thornbill
Brown thornbill

Well, who wouldn't want to sing in the first light of the sun on a cold and frosty morning?

Brown thornbills
Brown thornbills

The brown thornbills were feeding young.

Yellow-faced honeyeater
Yellow-faced honeyeater
Yellow-faced honeyeater
Yellow-faced honeyeater

The adult holding the insect refused to feed the juvenile bird that landed beside it and came begging.

Yellow-faced honeyeater, juvenile
Yellow-faced honeyeater, juvenile

The young bird in the previous photo looked somewhat chastened when the adult flew away without parting with its meal.

Crimson rosellas
Crimson rosellas

This pair of rosellas were investigating the possibilities of this nest hole in a tree in the picnic area. The female is inspecting the hollow while the male is sitting on the lower branch keeping guard.

Red wattlebird
Red wattlebird
Silvereye
Silvereye

I saw a small group of foraging in the shrubs around the edge of the picnic area late on the first afternoon.

Golden whistler, male
Golden whistler, male

We could hear whistlers around the camp-site but I couldn't get a photo in spite of trying to find them. Many thanks to Joe for letting me use this photo of his.

Black-backed magpie
Black-backed magpie
Wedge-tailed eagle, magpie
Wedge-tailed eagle, magpie

It is not just people that are attacked by magpies. This encounter amounted to harrassment and lastest for at least ten minutes.

Fan-tailed cuckoo
Fan-tailed cuckoo
Grey shrike-thrush
Grey shrike-thrush
Laughing kookaburra
Laughing kookaburra
Currawong
Currawong
Little black cormorant
Little black cormorant
Red-necked wallabies
Red-necked wallabies
Wombat burrows
Wombat burrows

There was plenty of evidence of wombat activity in the form of their huge burrows and droppings, but unfortunately we didn't actually manage to see one.

Ring-tailed possum
Ring-tailed possum

We found this little fellow when we were spot-lighting. Ring-tails were common in the woodland surrounding the campground. We spotted about five or six on this one evening.

Greater glider
Greater glider

It is a great thrill to spot gliders which are much less common than ringtail and brushtail possums.

Red-bellied black snake
Red-bellied black snake

This fellow was sunbaking in the early morning sun and blocking the entrance to the toilet on one day of our visit. It was a very timely reminder of the possible danger lurking in the tufts of snow-grass. Thongs and sneakers were not a good idea!

As was to be expected, there wasn't the range of species in this alpine area that we had seen in warmer places, allowing us to focus more on capturing a wide range of behaviours. 

 

Most interesting was the curious behaviour of the tree martins, a new species for us, which were nesting in tree hollows up near the picnic area. Every hole within a group of ten or so adjacent trees seemed to have martins issuing forth. In between visiting their nests they spent most of their time in the air wheeling and diving in a flock of about fifty birds catching insects on the wing. Even descending to the ground to collect nesting material was done as a group - the bold ones first and then the rest followed in very skittish fashion. When I have time I will write a blog post about these little birds.

 

But the flame robins and brown thornbills had already fledged their latest batches, and were very busily catching insects to stuff into hungry young mouths. The yellow-faced honeyeaters seemed to be even further ahead, with a parent bird apparently refusing to feed the young bird that came begging. 

 

In the picnic area crimson rosellas were competing with the martins for nesting hollows, perhaps choosing the larger more vertical holes. Red wattlebirds were actively foraging in the trees, and on one afternoon I took photos of silvereyes in the shrubs on the edge of the clearing. Whistlers made their presence obvious by calling but in spite of my efforts I didn't manage to see them. I have Joe to thank for the photo of a male golden whistler included here.

 

With other less common birds as distractions I often omit taking photos of birds like magpies and currawongs, but on this occasion we were treated to the spectacular sight of a magpie attacking a wedge-tailed eagle. The harassment lasted for five or ten minutes and the photo included here shows the magpie's beak open in an attempt to grab the hawk's tail feathers.

 

We also saw kookaburras, a fan-tailed cuckoo and a grey shrike-thrush. The only waterbird was a little black cormorant that flew by one day.

 

Red-necked wallabies came to graze in the picnic area in the early morning and evening. Although there was plenty of evidence of the presence of wombats we didn't actually see one but we did take photos of ring-tailed possums and a greater glider when we went out along the tracks with our torches at night.

 

The red-bellied black snake that parked itself right in front of the entrance to the toilet, to sunbake early one morning was a good reminder of the dangers of walking through the snowgrass in thongs or sneakers!

 

Many thanks to Joe for lending me the photo of the golden whistler.