Stories, poems and comments from past participants
Birds Week in Snowy River Country by R Akie (Melbourne)
This holiday came at the right time in my life and was perfect for me.
I enjoyed the relaxed style because we had birds all around us. Just sitting on the verandah, was a birdwatcher’s delight.
Birds! Birds! Birds!
The time of the year meant many birds were on their nests
In contrast, on the first night was a wonderful discovery of about 20 koalas
My three highlights (apart from birds) were the history of the area, magnificent scenery, and the afternoon with our hosts who shared their interests with us.
This included leaning about aboriginal artefacts found on their property and Kevin’s amazing artistic talent.
I found it hard to believe that I have not travelled to this magnificent area, it is so secluded and beautiful.
Thanks Jenny for giving us this opportunity and for sharing your love of the Snowy River area with us.
Deddick by Anne Pickles
Binoculars on the breakfast table
An oriole calling in the fig tree
White cockatoos raiding the orchard
Wedge tailed eagles rising on the thermals
Rainbow bee eaters flashing in the sun
Yellow robins on the verandah rail
A friar bird perched on a distant branch
Wood duck in the river
White browed scrubwrens flitting round a log
A scarlet robin swinging on the mullein
White winged choughs gossiping by the fence
Blue wrens flaunting their tails on the lawn
Recollections and jottings from my notebook
by L. Tinsley (Tas)
An exciting commencement to our trip was a Powerful Owl at Buchan, this would surely be a hard act to follow. A Tawny Frogmouth looked disdainfully down on us as we passed, a Gippsland Water Dragon and Swamp Wallabies at close quarters, were included in this short walk.
After an overnight stay at Gelantipy where an early morning walk in the misty mountain air gave us Gang Gang Cockatoos with their ‘squeaky door’ call, we drove through open grassland towards Little River Falls. This area gave good viewing of Brown Falcons and a Nankeen Kestrel, also Wood, Pacific Black and Grey Teal Ducks and Australasian Grebe on farm dams.
Pulling into the car park at Little River Falls, Jenny heard a Spotted Quail-thrush calling and we had a brief glimpse, another chance on the outward journey gave quite good sightings to some of the group. There is a lovely scenic walk to the Falls and sadly, but not unexpectedly, they were not flowing. However, more Gippsland Water Dragons were seen sunning around quite large rock pools.
Further on the stunning Little River Gorge with a 500m drop and 4km length, is Victoria’s deepest gorge and home to the vulnerable Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, a recovery programme is underway to save this special wallaby. The gorge lookout affords views down into the depths of the valley and Little River. A Black Rock Skink dropped down the sheer rock face, their low centre of gravity allowing such dizzying feats.
After a spectacular drive with vertical drops, views of mountain ranges fading into the hazy distance and glimpses of the meandering Snowy River Valley, we reached McKillops Bridge which spans the Snowy River. The walk across the bridge afforded a chance to view birds from a lofty position and also to pinpoint the junction of the Deddick and Snowy Rivers. Another day we explored the area further, walked the Nature Trail and sat by the river taking in the tranquillity of the bush and water rippling over pebbles and rocks onto gently sloping sand bars.
The winding road alongside the Deddick River to our accommodation at ‘Kurrajong’ cottage gave enticing views of what we were to enjoy over the coming days.
Jottings from my notebook:
- Powerful Owl with half eaten prey in its claws at Buchan
- Spotted Quail-thrush so very well camouflaged by its markings at Little River Falls
- Rainbow Bee-eaters at McKillops Bridge, elegantly swooping to snap up prey then perching to batter it and squeeze out any sting before eating. Their translucent wings catching the sunlight.
- Dusky Woodswallow flock hawking insects for breakfast and feeding young
- Diamond Firetails at Ambyne Bridge, dazzling in full sunlight whilst bathing and preening in the river shallows
- Speckled Warblers being very elusive amongst the leaf litter and scrappy fallen timber.
- Wedge-tailed Eagles (six on one occasion) at Deddick soaring on the thermal currents
- Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos in an amazing display also soaring on the thermals until they were tiny black dots – maybe it was just because they could!
- White-throated Needletails heralding a storm front in a flying display worthy of an aircraft aerobatic team
- Pallid Cuckoo (juvenile) sitting on a fence, intriguing us as it was so white, speckled and fluffy.
- Pied Currawongs devouring grapes and plums whole, a feat even for such a large bird. We all went ‘gulp’ as each fruit disappeared
- Silvereyes delicately pecking holes in ripe figs to feed their young and Olive-backed Orioles eating the juicy flesh from the same figs
- Peaceful Doves snuggling on a branch at dusk, with Crested Shrike-tits cracking the bark overhead
- White winged Choughs (9) trying to squeeze into an old nest for roosting
- Sugar Glider climbing a tree trunk and launching forth in the middle of the day
- Platypus in the Deddick River just 200m from our cottage, identifiable by the smooth swimming style and low silhouette
- Eastern Water Dragon hugging a rock in the Deddick River to gain the last warmth before nightfall
We saw many other bush birds during the trip including, Buff-rumped, Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills, Weebill, Sacred Kingfisher, Red-browed Finch, Restless Flycatcher, Rufous Whistler, Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robins, Jacky Winter. Eastern Spinebill, Brown and White-throated Treecreepers, Yellow tufted, Crescent, Fuscous, Yellow-faced, and White-eared Honeyeaters, also Noisy Friarbirds having an animated chat in their cackling tone.
All in all a wonderful 5 days with varied environments and a great tally of bird species. Good company of like minded birdos, lively discussions and much research in favoured bird guides
Thank you Jenny for sharing your wide-ranging knowledge and love of this special area of Victoria, whilst ensuring we did not starve and had a lot of fun.
Birds, Butterflies and other wildlife
by P. MacDonald (Vic)
Within minutes of being met by Jenny at the Bairnsdale Station, a quick change of programme had us eating a lovely salad lunch on the serene banks of the Mitchell River. Our original lunch was to have been at the Buchan Caves Reserve which Jenny thought would be rather crowded because of the school holidays. She was so right! When we reached The Caves Reserve it teemed with people! We had to drive quite a long way in to find the small birds such as the Superb Fairy Wren and the Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Larger birds such as the Kookaburra, Magpies and Sulphur – crested Cockatoo were more obvious. A special treat was the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Later that afternoon at Karoonda Park we took a short walk before dinner. Here we spotted Crimson Rosellas, the White-throated Tree-creeper, Thornbills and many more, as well as a Koala. After a lovely 4 course meal we chatted with our hosts who combine farming with teaching and tourism – outdoor activities offering nature walks, horse-riding and rock-climbing to name just a few of the activities on offer.
Next day we stopped for a short walk to visit the Little River Gorge and Falls. The steep-sided walls of the gorge were covered in trees and the water sparkled as it splashed and sprayed down the falls to the rocks below. Along the way we saw a number of Jacky Dragons and Cunningham Skinks as well as a Gippsland Water Dragon. Very few plants were in flower. Back in the 4wd and now on a gravel road we continued along, with Jenny spotting birds here. We stopped along the road and Jenny told us about the Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby and the great efforts to help preserve it and rid the area, on both public and private land, of feral predators. After crossing the Snowy River, we soon arrived at our accommodation for the next three nights at Deddick.
At “Kurrajong” we settled in to a comfortable house with everything we could possibly need. A fan for each bedroom, comfortable lounge, verandahs to see the birds from and a terrific selection of books to read as well as the “Nature “ books provided by Jenny. From then on we took short walks early and late in the day, bird-watching. My count – inaccurate I’m sure-as Jenny saw many more birds than I did-was for over 35 species at Deddick alone Some were new to me and even Jenny had not seen the Scarlet Honeyeater at Deddick before! We visited Joanna and Kevin across the Deddick River, our hosts, to visit their swimming hole and watched a platypus feeding and diving for quite a while. The river was brown and not very inviting, a storm having “coloured” the water. Joanna and Kevin showed us around their orchard; the trees laden with fruit especially the Mulberries which we ate with relish, while the red juice ran down our hands and arms. There were many white and yellow-brown butterflies flying everywhere and a very large and beautiful Orchard Swallowtail too. As well, we heard about a much earlier Aboriginal occupation of this land and had a private viewing of Kevin’s pastel and gouache paintings; beautiful works of leaves and barks and the surrounding scenery, clouds and sky.
All in all, a lovely few days in quiet and serene areas with almost no traffic and no radio or TV or mobile phones to intrude. Thank you Jenny for your skill, your knowledge your cooking and your patience. I’ll hope to come again on one of your carefully organised and enjoyable trips.
Birds of the Snowy River
By J Flanagan (Vic)
Birds in the air, birds on the ground,
Everywhere birds abound.
Some warming eggs on nests so snug
Others feeding chicks a dainty slug.
Chirping here and trilling there
Birds were calling everywhere.
Nature so bountiful, birds singing thanks
Amid wildflowers blooming on the Snowy’s banks.