Monday, 4 February 2013


I thought I'd start February's birdlist off with a bang with a visit to the Organ Pipes National Park.  This park is 85 hectares of regenerated vegetation based around some spectacular basalt columns, 25 kilometres north-west of Melbourne off the Calder Highway.  It is very close to Melbourne airport with obvious consequences.  Mine was the only car in the car park when I pulled in at 8.15.  I was the only person stupid enough to get up early and go birding at the Organ Pipes today.  The sky was grey and no birds were singing.  The first thing I saw was a feral cat, right beside the park office.  My mood soured.   I wandered down the steep hill, irritated by the noisy jets overhead every ten minutes.  I was grumpy and wondered why I hadn't stayed in bed.  Soon I was entertained by lots of Silvereyes, Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens and I thought perhaps I had done the right thing in coming here today.  Three cute Dusky Woodswallows assured me that I had.
Organ Pipes
In past summers, Bown Goshawks have nested in the gum trees here and their swooping kept tourists on their toes.  I could see no sign of them this morning.  Willie Wagtails chattered and Fairy Martins soared overhead.  I strolled on to the Roseate Rock.
Roseate Rock, Organ Pipes National Park

Red Wattlebirds played overhead and Red-browed Finches amused themselves in the grass.  Jacksons Creek bubbled along happily.  A couple of kangaroos looked at me curiously, and were happy to sit still watching me until they saw my camera.  Then they were gone.  The sun came out at last, and I thought the birds would follow.  It was very pleasant walking beside the creek, listening to the White-plumed Honeyeaters call to each other, while magpies carolled from the hillside. 

I figured that I'd got out of bed and driven through the morning peak traffic, so I deserved some good birds.  That was only fair.  One and a half more kangaroos came to inspect me.  Again, they were quite happy looking at me until I extracted my camera.  Shame I wasn't a little quicker.  They were off before I could take a shot.  I saw some very sick rabbits and wondered if that's what calicivirus looked like.  Not a pretty sight.

By the time I returned up the steep hill to the car park, I knew I'd wasted my time.  Then I did what dissatisfied birders always do.  I started wondering 'what if.'  What if I'd gone to Banyule?  There's a Little Egret and a Freckled Duck there.  What if I'd gone back to Badger's Weir?  Would I have seen my Superb Lyrebird this time?  What if I'd gone to Fern Tree Gully or Sherbrooke?  Certainly, my trip to the Organ Pipes had been a waste of time.  What was I thinking?  The Organ Pipes is not in my top 100 Australian birding sites.  I should have visited all the Melbourne sites on that list before I ventured elsewhere.  When will I learn?

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