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2008: Walpole-Nornalup National Park

Western Spinebill

My honeyeater tally rose to seven, with another lifer no less: western spinebill. Three families separate scrubbirds and honeyeaters at this prehistoric end of the taxonomic spectrum: bowerbirds; Australasian treecreepers; Australasian wrens. This last family then contributed lifer number 885 in the form of a red-winged fairy-wren.

I’d like to say I’d tracked it down in the deep forest after following its trail for hours and staking out its lair for the same time again. Just like similar excursions in the past, up mountains, across bogs, through sand dunes. The truth is: the bird was hopping round the Visitor Centre when I returned there. Ain’t that always the way? You get back to base and there’s your quarry, feeding off breadcrumbs in the car park.

Variegated Fairy-wren

OK, this time it was by the toilets. I caught the flash of red that told me straightaway what the bird was. It was one of those occasions when you don’t need anything else. It merely remains to confirm the identification with a better view and soak up the pure gorgeousness of this tiny, electric blue bird. If its colours and outrageously long tail weren’t cute enough, the way it behaves in a group would tip the balance. I’d seen superb fairy-wrens tumbling over and jumping on each other at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens back in ‘03. Clearly my lone specimen wasn’t up to this behaviour but… damn cute all the same.

Also in this area the Bibbulmun Track made another appearance. I’d had a hint of it in Denmark, so it obviously wasn’t going to go away. In fact it runs all the way from Albany to near Perth. I was to find traces of it in the rest of my picking around the National Park and onward route to Pemberton via a detour through Northcliffe.

I also found the fourth and final lifer of the day with a party of white-browed babblers down a shady Park lane. The rest of the route provided nothing and by Northcliffe I needed to make an accommodation decision. I was entertaining notions of spending the night down at Windy Harbour. Would lodgings be available? It was a slow 50 miles to Pemberton if not.

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