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Alpine Birds and Plants


On the first day I met the group just as the first of them were excitedly stepping down from the bus. We were staying, as last year, at ‘Bimblegumbie’. Please don’t ask me what it means, it is lovely without explanation. We were looked after exceptionaly well and Bimblegumbie food was fed to us like baby birds, with tasty morsals being offered often throughout the daylight hours. Tis a place full of character and warmth and individuality and great in its positioning on a hill overlooking an agricultural valley, towards Jindabyne and only a stone’s throw from border of Kosciuszko National Park.

We started the Day 2 with a 7am stroll, birding up the hill behind Bumblegimbie. It was very difficult to see birds as the world was shades of grey as the mists hung around in the trees, making the burnt branches so prevelant throughout the area somewhat eerie. The grasses that wrapped around our legs were very wet. The birds we did see were difficult to identify.

After breakfast, off we went to the Cascade/Tin Mine walking track car park which is just below Dead Horse Gap. As we drove up past Thredbo we could see a small area of blue peering under the clouds over the top of Dead Horse – looked encouraging. Soon the rain stopped the clouds lifted and the weather stayed wonderful from then on.

The speciality of the day – the Olive Whistler frequents this area and most were hoping to see it. We had gone little distance when its familiar call was heard. We certainly got 1st class views of this uncommon, vocal bird. It wasn’t too long either, before we saw and heard Gang Gangs, so often communicating with their grating sounds.

The weather improved by the minute and the wet weather gear got peeled off. This is another area badly affected by the 2002 fires and the dead snow gums are plainly seen by the hectare – BUT, it is wonderful and reassuring to see them sprouting new shoots (lignotuber growth) from the base of the tree – it was thought that they may not recover. So, even if we have lost most of the ancient trees, replacement is on the way. The highlight of the day and indeed the trip, was the sighting of a Pink Robin. ( I remember seeing one in the mid 70’s!! – long time no see). There was a bit of discussion as it was first thought to be a Rose Robin but when the bird book was checked, it was quite obvious which Robin it was.

Thredbo Diggings was quite warm and some of us were seeking shady trees whilst we wandered along, checking out the Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Wombat holes and resting kangaroos. We then drove to Ski Tube car park and walked to Bullocks Hut. Viv flushed a Brown Quail but mostly resting Kangas, wombat holes, old engines and bits of pieces of machinery left from the gold mining days. Interesting to note that the swallows were making use of the Ski Tube railway track, they were nesting under the bridge that spans the Thredbo River.

Day 3 brought us a wonderful variety of environment changes on the way, starting on the eastern side of Main Range. Back up to Dead Horse Gap and dropping down the western side. The short Snow Gums are left and stands of tall Alpine Ash take their place. Part way down, we stopped at the Leather Barrel Creek (a beautiful creek who¼s source is just south of Mnt. Kosciusko). We noticed some Gang Gang Cockatoos in an Acacia tree next to the road. We were able to stop right by the Rest Area and spend some quality viewing time watching them feeding. One could clearly see them fedding the Acacia pods through their beaks like a conveyer belt. If you looked at a pod they had finished with you would see a neat hole where each seed had been removed. Very neat. The males were sporting the best in orangy heads complete with beautifully combed crests, clearly seen through the ‘scope’.

Travelling parrallel to Main Range, we stopped at Scammells lookout for lunch whilst ‘boggling’ at the view of that steep western side of Main Range. Thornbills seen and a Pilotbird heard. Still dropping, we went to the ponds just outside of Khancoban township – a town built for the Snowy Mountain Hydro Electric Scheme workers. A good spot to view some wetland birds. White -necked Heron, White -faced Heron, Shel Duck, neurotic Masked Lapwing and Latham’s Snipe.

From here we drove up the Cabramurra Road where we stopped at Ogilvies Creek as in spite of little tree foliage, the Flame Robin did his part and showed up after a little while. I think he knows there are likely to be ‘goodies’ after a car has stopped. Good thinking Robin. For ever upwards we drove and visited the Cabramurra lookout. This gives quite an expansive view of the Cabramurra surrounds including an idea of the deepness of the Tumut River valley.

Further up the hill we stopped at 3 Mile Dam and the Gold Seekers Track. These are in sub alpine area. Tis easier to see things in the shorter Snow Gums. We watched a Flame Robin feeding its young and crossed over to the damn and saw Hoary Headed and Australasian Grebes, and a Water Rat.

Brilliant morning weather on Day 4 made our Satin Flycatchers gleam, rather than the first mornings vauge outline. Then the bus wound its way from Biblegumbie, through Jindabyne and up the Kosciusko Road to Charlottes Pass. We visited the Snow gum timber walkway which gives extensive views over the headwaters of the Snowy River, from its sources, which are, the right and left arms of the Snowy River – the creek that spills from the glacial Club Lake, the creek that stems from just below Mt. Kosciusko and all the snow melt and rain fall that seeps down from the ‘basin’ between the two. Up here we saw Little Australian Raven and Australian Pipit.

We then walked up the Kosciuszo Road until (most of us) reached the point beyond the last tree. Don’t know why but there is something special about being above the tree line – Alpine Magic. Stopped off at the Thredbo River Walk on way home and saw, amongst other things, an Eastern Yellow Robin feeding its baby, an Eastern Spinebill and there was thought to be a Forest Kingfisher….

Our last restful afternoon brought home all the magnificent sights we had seen and with a total of 95 birds this year we certainly improved on the annual list.

Thank you from Jules and Janene to all the wonderful participants.

Follow That Bird   Phone: 61 2 9973 1865
Fax: 61 2 9973 1875
3/59 Central Road
Avalon NSW 2107
Sydney Australia
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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer