Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The track to the picnic area.
I feel a bit flat. Traditionally I travel in April, and enjoy the company of good friends. This April marks 12 months since I last was in Paris, and hosted my friend Jim here with my family. A lot of things have happened since and its not been a great year. So, I chose to get out and get some fresh air.
Some essential equipment.
One of the places we travelled to 9 years ago was Barren Grounds. Located on the Illawarra Escarpments,specifically the Buderoo Plateau, its the home to the rare Bristle Bird and Ground Parrot. The area is a mixture of heath, scrub, tall eucalyptus forests, and rain forests. Its unusual to get an entire mix in just an 8km loop. Both birds require the low dense heath to survive, and I was fortunate enough to see a Bristle Bird the last time I was there. UP to 180 other species of bird has been recorded here. Its an important location.
The start of the Griffin Trail. Pygmy possum research was done on the right.
9 years ago we were one of the last groups allowed to camp there. Basic huts were provided and we worked with a scientist who was studying pygmy possums. Soon after, National parks dismantled the huts and only the stone building remains.
The drive is beautiful. I chose to head through Bowral and Robertson. These towns are very pretty with there own flavor and quality. Robertson has a very famous pie shop and many a traveller stops to enjoy the pies, Sausage rolls and an apple pie and cream. The track to the picnic area is easy and any vehicle cold do it. The picnic area is neat clean and tidy. A great spot.
Trail towards a creek. Ideal Bristlebird and Ground Parrot habitat.
Memories returned immediately as I set out. I recalled the work we did, meeting other birders- One woman we referred to as "gadget woman"- she had every conceivable piece of equipment, in every conceivable additional pocket, belt, pack and hung around her neck. We concluded she must have been a girl guide leader and went on a shopping spree! However she and her group were very nice people.
Crossing the stone bridge.
It was not too long before I have spotted my first birds. The open areas were quite swampy and the benefits of all the rain were immediate. Pools of water lay on top of sandstone and some were full of tadpoles. Many of the native tress and shrubs were still flowering, making it a haven for a multitude of honey eaters.
Trees in full bloom.
The Griffin loop is 8km and one of the features is the stone bridge across a creek. Naturally formed, the rocks have been hollowed by the water which flows underneath forming the bridge. A steady climb up to a trig highlights the variation of the vegetation.
Outstanding views as I climb towards the trig.
Personally, I went well up to the 5km mark. This was a walk to test my ankle and hip. Suddenly, and without warning I locked up. I cannot describe it. It's as if the bones/joints just go stiff and I walk like tin man. I struggled the final 2 kms and put birding to one side to concentrate on foot placement, to prevent from rolling the ankle on a rock. It was fortunate I had a walking pole with me which provided stability.
Needless to say, walking through the cool of a tall Eucalyptus forest with distance views to the coast and arriving at the FJ was a real comfort. A cup of hot tea, a banana and a vegimite sandwich was very welcome.
A hot cup of tea.
I felt quite nostalgic. It did not seem like 9 years and I learned a lot then. Today I can hardly walk, but the day was well worth it.
Birds seen:-New Holland Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Grey Fantail, Crimson Rosella, Striated Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Welcome Swallow, Eastern Whipbird, White-Cheeked Honeyeater, Brush Wattlebird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Pied Currawong.