Friday, February 11, 2011

Ben Boyd and Croajingolong National Parks

South Coast Trip - Part 3
Today we're off to Croajingolong National Park in North East Victoria. It was an early start as I wanted to stop off at Green Cape in Ben Boyd National Park in NSW. The target species here was the Southern Emu-wren.

The dirt road into the park was in good nick, so in no time we pulled up on the side track that leads to Pulpit Rock as this looked like good habitat,. Sure enough within a couple of minutes we were onto a family party of Emu-wrens. Over the next 30 minutes as much as I tried I couldn't get one of those pesky birds to give me a clear, close shot. Lots of images with birds partially obscured. No matter I thought as the good light was disappearing, I'll get another opportunity when we stay at Croajingolong. All was not lost as a party of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos flew into a patch of Banksia serrata nearby. The way these birds demolish the cones it's a wonder there are any plants left.

I was trying to get a little closer and at a better angle when the birds all took flight. A quick look around soon revealed that my wife had approached too close. That's the problem when you're both trying to get a better shot. Bloody Hell!
Of course the other wonderful thing about this National Park is the scenery, so we spent the rest of our time here as landscape photographers.
We had a very pleasant lunch at Mallacoota. The place was overrun by grey nomads, definitely one better than all the school kids that would have been there the week before in the holidays. We decided to camp at Shipwreck Creek in Croajingolong National
Park after reading one of Tim Dolby's blog entries.. This turned out to be a great place with an excellent

camp ground, fantastic habitat including heath and spectacular scenery. Did I forget to mention that the heath was only a few hundred metres from the camp? Luxury! There wasn't much flowering in the heath apart from some Hakea and  Epacris impressa. Honeyeaters were not in great numbers, however I did see a number of Tawny-crowned and New Hollands. During what was left of the day we explored the area and photographed the coastal scenery. The next morning with the good light we were out into the heath area.On the way we had a close encounter in the dense scrub adjacent the campground with three Lyrebirds. No photos as I wasn't setup and it was too dark.

The heath here was denser than at Green Cape, which seems to force a lot of the birds to perch on top of the vegetation to sing or look out. It still wasn't easy to get a close shot of an Emu-wren, however I did manage to get my best shot to date.  I'm beginning to think that with wrens the best chance to get a clear shot is around the breeding season when they are actively defending territory, or attracting potential mates.
I wasn't surprised to see a Striated Field-wren which I was able to call onto a perch further along the track. Unfortunately it wasn't interested in allowing a close approach. Yet another bird I will have to go back and photograph properly.

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