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Victoria Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: February 2007

About 11am we headed down the road to Johanna Beach (38.763S 143.378E) in the Great Otway NP (Virginia said it probably wouldn't be as foggy there). Along the way we saw a pair of Brush Bronzewings, Hooded Plovers, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos, and Singing Honeyeaters.

castle cove beachAbout 2pm we drove to Castle Cove Beach (38.783S 143.428E). We walked down the steep trail to the beach. The sand was really deep here, so we soon headed back up the track. We took a wrong turn at the top that resulted in us seeing the very rare Southern Emu-wren -- 3 of them. The male tried to lead us away from the nest by jumping from bush to bush. Emu-Wren is an oxymoron for this 7-inch bird, 4 inches of which is filament tail.

For Jam Tasting on Feb 15 we had Gooseberry Jam, Black Plum Jam, Black Current Jam, Apricot Jam, and Crabapple Jelly. We finished with Weet Bix cereal (an Australian Icon) with poached strawberries and fresh Jersey milk.

As we finished Br there was a thud on the kitchen window. We went outside to find a small bird lying on the rocks. It wasn't dead, so Virginia picked it up. It promptly piddled in her hand. I got some pictures before the bird flew away. We ID'ed it as the Crescent Honeyeater -- a new bird for us.

About 9:30am we walked down to the Melba Gully section (38.698S 143.370E) of the Great Otway NP. There was heaps of wild Lucifer growing along the road. We stopped to look at some Thornbills. After a few minutes 2 Gang Gang Cockatoos bolted from the trees behind us. I whirled around and saw a male Gang Gang sitting in a tree with its red crest erect.

triplet fallsIn the afternoon we drove to Triplet Falls (38.668S 143.492E). The 2Km track wound thru 200 ft tall Shaggy Bark Eucalyptus Trees before reaching the spectacular cascading falls. We saw a Pink Robin -- cherry pink chest and black head. For dinner at the Pub I had Calamari and chips. My wife ordered Beer Battered Flake, which we were told was School Shark. The waitress assured us it was very good, so we got it. We split the orders. The Shark was Beautiful!!!

After Jam Tasting on Feb 16 we headed out for a loop drive. Our first stop was Triplet Falls, but we couldn't find the advertised Pink Robin. Next we stopped at Hopetoun Falls (38.649S 143.556E) for a walk thru the Tree Ferns and down the steep track to the bottom of the gorge where we could see the falls.

By early afternoon we had driven to Cape Otway (38.851S 143.529E). We stopped in a grove of Eucalyptus Trees and found Koalas sleeping everywhere. In our brief walkabout we spotted 16 Koalas. Some would look down at us as we took pictures. Others were simply passed-out from too much fermented Eucalyptus leaves.

Virginia had invited us to have dinner with them and some friends from town -- Julie and Alistair. Bob made the spaghetti noodles from flour and eggs, and used a machine to produce the soft flat noodles. The spaghetti sauce was also made from scratch with fresh zucchini on top. The lettuce and tomato salad was fresh from the garden. Julie brought homemade bread. For dessert Virginia made Tiramisu.

After Jam Tasting, we left at 9am on Feb 17. The route this morning is called the Great Ocean Road. It parallels the south sandstone bluff coastline for many miles.

apostle bayOur first stop was at Apostle Bay (38.667S 143.104E a.k.a. Port Campbell NP) where differential erosion of the 300-foot high bluff has resulted it a group of rocky masses stranded in the ocean called Apostles. Originally there were 15 Apostles (although they were called the 12 Apostles). Due to continuing erosion, they have been downsized to 8. More downsizing is expected. But, a whole new crop of Apostles is expected in the future as more gulches turn into islands and finally Apostles.

This area has an extensive network of lookouts and hiking trails. What they don't have is places to eat. For lunch we split a Lemon Slice bar we bought yesterday.

It was 95F in the shade today, but felt like 115F on the tracks. It was so hot that the Singing Honeyeaters were hiding in the heath bushes panting to keep cool. It was so hot that people were swimming in the 60F ocean water. It was so hot that our birding pants looked like we had been swimming in the ocean.

We got to Port Fairy (38.376S 143.230E) at 3pm. We had a reservation at the "B by the Sea", but the lady that ownes the place had failed to record we were coming. She called the Visitor Center and got us into the Port Fairy Motel. In the evening we walked around the nesting area for Short-tailed Sherwaters (38.391S 142.251E) on Griffith Island. We waited around till dusk when several hundred thousand Sherwaters were supposed to feed their chicks. We could hear the chicks inside the burrows, and saw a dozen dead chicks along the track, but we got tired and had to leave before the mob arrived.

E-mail if you would like a file with the specific birds we saw each day.

Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com

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