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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Lake Cargelligo Weekend

Foggy sunrise, Lake Cargelligo
Lake Cargelligo is both a town and a lake - the latter a natural wetland fed by the Lachlan River, but now artificially regulated, some 420km north-west of Canberra. A school friend of Lou (she's been good at keeping in touch with her boarding school friends) has recently moved back there, and we went to visit for the weekend. Lake Cargelligo is well known in birding circles as the access town to the great central NSW mallee reserves of Nombinnie and Round Hill, but this was a social weekend, so we didn't get that far. I am on record as saying that north-west is the only sensible direction to head, but that probably contains some hyperbole; nonetheless we both love heading inland. The following comprises simply some memories worth sharing and even a couple of hints for those who may follow.

Saturday, as I mentioned recently, was the first official day of spring, and on Wattle Day the wattles didn't disappoint.

These Acacia hakeoides blazed all along the roadside verges, especially in Grey Box (E. microcarpa) woodlands.

 McCann Park on the highway at the west end of West Wyalong is always worth a stop; it's a very reliable place for Little Friarbirds and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. (On the other hand, don't be tempted by the nearby bakery, unless your tastes run to stoggy - ie both stodgy and soggy - quiches and 'salad' containing both tinned pineapple and beetroot, and shredded lettuce and tomato which have been frozen.)
Little Friarbird
North of West Wyalong the western slopes (characterised by Grey Box) subtly give way to the western plains, characterised by Weeping Myall, or Boree, Acacia pendula (as in pendulous, get it?).

We spent the afternoon at the Lake Cargelligo show; this isn't the place for those pics, but by tomorrow those who have (or want) access to my Facebook page can see them there.

An early morning drive didn't produce anything startling, but I was just pottering along and enjoying being inland. The following are a few of the quiet highlights, including many birds of prey taking advantage of the mousey bounty.
Black-shouldered Kite
Nankeen Kestrel (female, see rufous head, not grey);
both these birds are fluffed up against the very frosty morning.
Fairy Martins; I couldn't work out what kept bringing them back to this
site, as it was too dry to provide nesting mud and there were no obvious insects there.
I suspect it was just a clear sunny spot to warm up in.

Blue Bonnets are a subtly coloured (except for the tummy) inland parrot,
abundant along the roadsides.
Later a walk along a section of lake shore was also rewarding. The gorgeous Red-rumped Parrots, none the less superb for being familiar, basked in the sun, and bathed in pools left by the retreating water - the lake is still very high from floods earlier in the year.

'Red-rumped' refers only to the male (and then only with his wings up) - she is much more demure.
The high water levels reduced the number of birds along the shore, but many took advantage of the dead trees and banks to dry off and warm up.

I can see at least four species here. 
Synchronised sunning - female darters.
There was probably a greater concentration of Darters than I recall seeing before, doubtless still feasting on the cornucopia of carp and Bony Bream brought down by the floods.

Well, this has been a  pretty light-on posting, but then it was a pretty low key weekend too (and I've found myself in unexpected meetings for much of the day). If you find yourself at 'Lake', you might try the Old Bank Cafe, in the main street (there's not much else!). You can get coffee, good cake and something more filling if required; say that Lou and Ian sent you.

So, as the sun sets slowly into the west, that'll do for today. The last scene is the same as the top one, but at last light, after the sun had set...


madoqua said...

Sounds as if you had a great weekend - love the bird pics, there's a skill i have yet to master!
Looks as if you had nice weather too. :-)

leo_qbn said...

Sounds like a great weekend but why do you spell it 'Lake Cargellico'?
Isn't it 'Lake Cargelligo'?

Ian Fraser said...

Because I'm an idiot Leo - noted and corrected, many thanks!