PHOTOS from Nowendoc NP

Now that both Joe and Pete have four-wheel drive vehicles, Laura is keen to camp in places with four-wheel drive only, access - particularly after our experiences with other campers on our last camping trip to D'Aguilar National Park (which, incidentally, was supposed to have 4WD access, but where the road had recently been improved allowing cars to enter the camp-ground).


We camped at the Myall Creek camp-ground, in Nowendoc National Park near Walcha in NSW, for three nights in November 2015. The road in was classified as 4WD only, and was accessible only in dry weather. It had a couple of very steep sections. Also, the camp-site has recently been decommissioned and is no longer listed on the National Parks web-site (although it was still on it when Laura made the plan to camp there), and it was a bit difficult to find. Although there was evidence that other campers had been there recently, we had complete privacy during our three-night stay.


When we arrived at the camp-ground, Laura announced that the bird she really wanted to see there was a rose robin. We saw a female first, zig-zagging across the clearing where we were camped. The male spent most of his time at the far end of the site, in a small wooded area on the far side of the creek. Many of my photos show him with a beak full of insects - it seems that just one was never enough - so we suspected that they had a nest nearby. On our last evening, on his return from one of his expeditions, there was a sudden flurry of little wings in the banksia tree just in front of us on the other side of the creek. Examination of the photos later showed three tiny fledglings, barely visible in the foliage. Unlike other baby birds that are usually noisy and demanding, they remained completely silent.


We were surrounded by whistlers in the Myall Creek camp-ground. We heard them all day long and it was no wonder because both the rufous and golden species were present. Grey fantails were also common and we found a pair of them building a nest. Red-browed fire-tails were also nesting but some of the other species that are normally ubiquitous at camp-sites we visit, were scarce, such as wrens and yellow robins. But brown thornbills, silvereyes, and both white-browed and yellow-throated scrub-wrens, were there, along with a variety of honey-eaters - yellow-faced, New Holland, and white-naped honeyeaters, and eastern spine-bills.


There were also red-browed tree-creepers, a fan-tailed cuckoo and a grey thrush. Crimson rosellas came down from the surrounding forest, to feed in the clearing, and a pair of kookaburras set up a noisy chorus. We could hear spectacled monarchs calling but they were very elusive, and the photo that I thought I had of one turned out to be a leaden flycatcher! Whip-birds also could be heard calling but they stayed on the other side of the creek. A wedge-tailed eagle circled around, overhead.


There was plenty of poo to show the presence of large-ish macropoids, but they were very flighty and I only managed a couple of very poor photos of one of them, a swamp wallaby which bounded off up the hill and was almost out of sight before I could get to my camera. But Laura and Pete spotted a koala on one of their walks along the road, and they also found a greater glider, while spot-lighting.


When selecting photos for these galleries, I have been thinking of them as being an aid for identification purposes. But Laura has said that she thinks they would be more interesting if they were artistically cropped, so that is what I have tried to do here. (Please note that I always do what Laura says. This is not "elder abuse" - I am just naturally obedient!!)


Rose robin, male
Rose robins were the star attraction at the Myall Creek camp-ground. I found a hidden spot where this little male was often seen, usually with a beak full of insects. He was very busy.
It wasn't until almost dusk on our last evening there, that we realized that he was feeding three tiny fledglings hidden deep in a banksia tree.
Rose robin, female
Note the pale pink colouring on her breast which distinguishes her from the juvenile bird in the following photo.
Juvenile rose robin
Similar to the female but lacks the soft pink breast colouring.
Rose robin fledglings
These three tiny birds were well-concealed and keeping their family very busy.
Eastern yellow robin
Normally these are common in campgrounds but they were not much in evidence at Myall Creek.
Rufous whistler, male
Rufous whistler, female
Note the speckled breast that distinguished her from the female golden whistler.
Golden whistler, male
We had a few showers on our second day at the camp-site and had to make raincoats for our cameras. This male whistler was singing in the rain.
Golden whistler, female
Unlike the female rufous whistler, she has olive colouring on her wing feathers.
Brown thornbill
Wedge-tailed eagle
Grey fantail
We found a pair of these birds building a nest. This specimen showed interesting dappling on its breast, more typical of rufous fantails.
Eastern spine-bill
White-browed scrub-wren
Yellow-throated scrub-wren
This species is much less common than its white-browed cousin and generally keeps to darker places in forest undergrowth.
Red-browed firetail
This little fire-tail was collecting nesting material. Unfortunately it dropped this leafy stem soon after this photo was taken.
Variegated fairy-wren
This is a young male variegated wren. Note the pale-blue feathers around its eye, that allow it to be identified. Wrens were very elusive in the camp-ground.
Yellow-faced honeyeater
This species has proven to be one of the most common and widespread honeyeaters in the wooded areas where we have camped on the eastern coast of NSW and QLD., so we now recognise their calls.
New Holland heoneyeater
White-naped honey-eater
Fan-tailed cuckoo
Cuckoos seem to spend their lives calling out to each other, and we usually hear them before we see them. You would think that a bird that takes advantage of other species by laying eggs in their nests would not want to advertise their presence so freely!
Laughing kookaburras
This pair of kookaburras serendipitously landed on a branch and began calling in a spot where I could see them - a lucky chance to catch the pair of them both calling together.
Crimson rosella
These rosella came down to the clearing to feed during the day.
Grey shrike-thrush
Sometimes these birds are quite docile and we see them often in picnic areas, but this one had not been trained and remained hidden.
Leaden flycatcher, male
Red-browed treecreeper
My photos of treecreepers are always poor. These birds forage by moving up tree-trunks and probing the bark. The bulk of the nearby tree is always distracting for the autofocus mechanism on the camera, and thus far I haven't done very well by focusing manually either.
But it is clear that this is a red-browed treecreeper, and not the more commonly seen white-throated treecreeper.
Eastern whipbird, juvenile
This photo is so poor that I know that you are thinking that it might not be a whipbird at all - but I know it was because I heard it calling. The colouring in the photo shows that it must have been a young bird.
Laura and Pete found this koala on one of their exercise walks up the hill. It was still there an hour or two later when we went back to take photos.
Greater glider
This was a great find, by Laura and Pete while they were spotlighting. There were a pair of them in the same tree.
I am not so great at spotlighting since it often happens after my bed-time, but on this occasion I realized that something was happening and was able to take this photo before the animals disappeared.
Swamp wallaby
The macropods were very flighty at this camp ground. They were difficult to see, let alone photograph.
This photo is very poor but at least it allowed the species to be identified!
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