A Good Day Out

There is something that truly delights me about seeing birds when I’m out and about. This is easier at times than others, but I seem to spend a bit of time looking at the canopies of trees, patiently waiting to spot birds which are flying about and twittering above. I have learned to stand very still and to watch for branches being pulled about by birds on the hunt for nectar or insects.

There is a special kind of delight that I feel when I spot a bird that I’m not familiar with. As I am still relatively new at this bird spotting game, this happens fairly often. It can be frustrating to hear but not see a bird (and my ear for bird calls is very much a work in progress), or to see one flit by but not know what kind of bird it is. When I can, I will take a photo but again this can be an exercise in frustration as there are many blurred shots of wings, beaks and bird bums which really don’t help in identifying the complete bird.

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Wattle blooms to brighten a winter day

But then there are days when it comes together. I took a drive down to the Evans Lookout recently at Blackheath. I have been here before on sunset, and it was such an amazing moment when the sheer scale of the Grose valley was revealed that it took my breath away. Although it was an overcast day, I thought I’d take a look in daylight and revisit the view.

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Grose Valley views from Evans Lookout at Blackheath

The view was spectacular, with the shifting clouds creating vistas speckled with light and dark shadows. Throughout the valley, I could hear the ting of bellbirds way down below. Back at the car park, I was getting ready to get in my car when a small bird caught my eye. It was bouncing about, moving across the dirt path and bitumen with agile bounds. I followed it a little way and managed a photo or two before a car came in and it seemed to vanish. I started to drive out and saw a clutch of three birds, so I pulled over and grabbed my camera.

These birds were a delight to watch, dancing about with jaunty flicks of their tails. The lookout is a popular spot and they were not at all phased by me or my car. It was a treat to watch them bounce around, searching for insects.

Rockwarbler

A rockwarbler in-between hops at Evans Lookout

The next part of the challenge is to then identify the bird. One of my most used reference books is Birds of the Blue Mountains, but I had to flick through a field guide to identify the little birds as rockwarblers. These sweet birds are the only bird endemic to New South Wales, and they are usually found in areas where there is sandstone.

Just around the bend, I had to pull over again as a bird was on the road. Another bird that I wasn’t familiar with. I walked back and spotted it in a tree and took the photo below. It was a grey shrike-thrush, known for its beautiful calls.

Grey shrike-thrush

A grey shrike-thrush spotted near Evans Lookout

Spotting and identifying these birds bring a joy and satisfaction that is hard to convey. And it definitely makes it a good day out!

[Photo: rockwarbler hunting through leaves at the lookout]

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My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘E’

It is with much excitement and enthusiasm that I present my favourite ‘E’ spies from the week that was. Enjoy!

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Emus in the Hartley Valley

Emus

I have passed these birds for over 3 years as I have wound my way through the Hartley Valley. They are usually in the distance, but are used to drawing attention and often loiter near the fenceline in hope of a treat. Knowing that E was coming up, I paid closer than usual interest to their location and pulled over on the way to work recently to take a photo. They weren’t fussed at all. I took several shots inbetween laughing when one of them yawned, and was surprised by the low throbbing noise that they made. A quick Google search confirmed it was normal. Their brown eyes were huge – you can catch a glimpse on the emu at the front. I was pleased to finally make their acquaintance.

Elephants spotted at Vinnies

Elephants

Elephants

Sticking with the animal theme, I spotted these two elephants at a Vinnie’s store, waiting for someone to take them home. I like elephants and have a couple of garden ornaments but I thought there might be someone out there who needed them more than I did.

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout, Blackheath

There is a turnoff on the edge of Blackheath before the road bends its way towards Medlow Bath. The sign is for the Evans Lookout, and despite passing it many times, I hadn’t gone to have a look. I had been to Govetts Leap, which is off the main road at Blackheath, but I hadn’t taken the four kilometre drive out. Thank goodness for I Spy, is all I can say. It was just before dusk and I thought I’d have a quick look. The sheer scope and magnitude of the view honestly took my breath away. As the light faded there were two raucous cockatoos (is there any other kind?) who screeched and wheeled their way into the canyon, quickly becoming mere dots of white against the backdrop. The lookout is named after a local solicitor and landholder, George Evans, and is well worth a stop. It has been my favourite spy so far.

Onwards now with spying F items. You can see previous I Spy outings here: A B C & D. Special mention to Autumn’s D posting featuring donkeys and Pip Lincolne who started me off on this tangent.