Monday, 17 October 2016

Family & friends!

Modern air travel is amazing! On 7th October I was watching Elephants in my garden in Sabie Park & the very next day I was sat watching South Africa versus New Zealand in The Club Bar in Abu Dhabi! Quite extraordinary really! It was great to meet up with some of the gang again & Ryan (Angie's boyfriend) also came along.

Hey there Ryan, looking cool man!

Same faces, same place!
Robin & Anne are missing, as they now
 live in Shanghai!

It was a very pleasant evening but not for the South Africans present as they were steamrolled by the Kiwis!

Ahmed & Clare.
The black furry thing is a nineteen year old cat!
Vanilla, what an original name!
Caramel! It defies belief really!

I am of course, staying with Clare & Ahmed at Al Reef Villas, near the airport. It is a pleasant place to stay with the feel of a real community about it. It is great to spend a bit of time with them as well.

Toni & Rowan.

Had a good flight to Brisbane & Ceggy was there to pick me up. Thanks mate! A few drinks with Johnny, Toni, Rowan & Ceggy & then to bed!

The culprits!
Johnny, pretending to be an Aussie!
Oh! I forgot. He is an Aussie!
Ceggy, pretending to be a waiter!
Irving, well just pretending!
Irving now lives in a cupboard 
under the stairs!
Just like guess who?

My grandsons, Jackson & Irving were awake early! And even worse, so were the two dogs! Staggered out of bed of to be greeted by What you would like to do do today? How about nothing?

Not bad!
Across the road from Johnny & Toni's house.
Some nice dune forest at the back of the beach.
The Gunn's!
Toni, Rowan & Johnny.
Toni, me & Rowan.

Being honest is not always the  best policy.! So we had a walk on the beach, which is a mere 50 meters from their house. Dogs went mad! Kids in the rock-pool haven, then back home to get a little drunk!
The Gunn's - some more interested in the rugby
 than others!
The other grandparents - Geoff & Rosie.

16th October was spent at the Rugby Sevens in Byron. A very nice day out with some top quality rugby on show. Popped into Geoff & Rosie's house in the afternoon. Great to see them again.

The Rockpool Beach

Irving, making a sponge, pee!
Irving again!
Rowan & Ceggy
Greater crested Tern
This race is a bit smaller than the other races.

Information board
Bar-tailed Godwit, a real long 
distance migrant here.
Pied Oystercatcher
J7: it would be interesting to find 
more about this project.

17th October I had a walk around the neighbourhood, then picked up Ceggy & we had a walk to the Rockpool Beach, through some nice paperbark forest. Saw a good selection of local birds including:

Australian Brush-turkey; Pacific Black Duck; Australian Pelican; Darter; Pied Cormorant; Eastern Cattle Egret; Australian White Ibis; Pacific Baza; Bar-tailed Godwit; Whimbrel; Masked Lapwing; Pied Oystercatcher; Silver Gull; Greater crested Tern; White-fronted Tern; Wonga Pigeon; Crested Pigeon; Galah; Scaly-breasted Lorikeet; Eastern Rosella; Laughing Kookaburra; Dollarbird; Variegated Fairy-wren; White-browed Scrubwren; Little Wattlebird; Noisy Friarbird; Blue-faced Honeyeater; Lewin's Honeyeater; Brown Honeyeater; Eastern Yellow Robin; Eastern Whipbird; Magpie-Lark; Willie Wagtail; Grey Fantail; Black-faced Cuckooshrike; Figbird; Pied Butcherbird; Australian Magpie; Pied Currawong; Welcome Swallow & Red-browed Finch.

There are some nice paths through 
indigenous vegetation.

Australian White Ibis.
Pacific Black Duck
Australian Brush-Turkey
Common in the dune forest next to the beach.
Masked Lapwing
Common here in suburbia.

Crested Pigeon
Rainbow Lorikeet

A young Laughing Kookaburra 
on a house balcony!
Variegated Fairy Wren
Common in indigenous forest here.
The male is a cracker!

White-browed Scrubwren
Common here.

Little Wattlebird
Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Miner
Lewins Honeyeater

Willie Wagtail

Grey Fantail
This is interesting because it is an intermediate
 between two races: vielloti & flaviventris.
Pied Butcherbird - adult.
Young one.
Australian Magpie
It is the breeding season!
Pied Currawong.

Red-browed Finch
Common in paperbark & dune forest.

A cracking little finch.


Bar shouldered Dove.
Striated Thornbill
Quite common here.
Superb Fairy Wren.
A bit of a show stopper!

Heavy rain overnight meant that the morning of 18th October was crisp & bright, so I sneaked out of the house just after dawn & walked the fire trail to the weekly Tuesday market. Got some nice photos of the aptly named Superb Fairy Wren. 

The local, Tuesday Market.

The girls!
Lots of local produce on show.

It was then back to the market for breakfast and a quick look around with Toni, Rowan & Ceggy. The market was small, but quite nice & interesting, with lots of local produce on offer.

Ceggy & Rowan.
Taken a week before I arrived.

Ceggy & Rowan
Tallow Beach.
Walking up to the lighthouse.
Cape Byron Lighthouse
This is where I used to sea-watch from
 eight years ago, the last time I was here.
Humpbacked Whale

Female with calf.
I believe this has been a record year for
 Whales off this coast.
Rest of the day was spent on a visit to Cape Byron Lighthouse. This is a very scenic spot & we spotted a mother Hump-backed Whale & her calf offshore.

Me, Jackson & Irving
Nina & Georgi.

Evening walk along the beach with the dogs. Beautiful weather, in a beautiful part of the world.

Optus Trail
As one walks towards the coast, 
the landscape becomes more open.
Photo courtesy of Johnny Gunn
Me birding the trail.
Photo courtesy of Johnny Gunn
Australian King Parrot
Laughing Kookaburra

Brown Cuckoo Dove

Spangled Drongo
Terrible photos, but I was pleased to see this species 
so close to the coast.
Grey Shrike-Thrush
Eastern Yellow Robin
Black-faced Monarch
Spectacled Monarch
Large-billed Scrubwren
White-cheeked Honeyeater

Up at the crack of dawn on 19th October for a walk with Johnny, who had taken the day off. Hiked along a track through forest to Billinudgel, then back along the Optus Trail through some really nice mature forest, transitioning to coastal dune forest.

Highlights: Brown Falcon; Wonga Pigeon; Bar-shouldered Dove; Little Corella; Galah; Australian King Parrot; White-throated Needletail; Dollarbird; Variegated Fairy-wren; Large-billed Scrubwren; Striated Thornbill; Little Wattlebird; Noisy Friarbird; Lewin's Honeyeater; White-cheeked Honeyeater; Eastern Yellow Robin; Logrunner; Eastern Yellow Robin; Black-faced Monarch; Spangled Drongo; Black-faced Cuckooshrike; Silvereye & Red-browed Finch.

A beautiful walk, on a beautiful morning.

Brunswick Heads
Small scale, commercial fishing 
still takes place here.
Rowan - the whole area is protected.
The Brunswick River

Toni & Johnny.

Spent the rest of the day at nearby Brunswick Heads, a scenic little spot where we enjoyed a nice lunch. Saw 5 White-fronted Terns but they were too far away to get any photos.

Enjoyed a day out with Rowan today shopping at Tweed Heads for Johnny's birthday present. On the drive I noticed several conspicuous signs advertising a new retirement village. When we eventually passed the site, it was next to a crematorium! Handy that! Not far to travel!

Just to prove what we were doing!
Photo courtesy of Toni Gunn.
Nice little critters!

Enjoyed a run on the beach with the dogs later. Then went back in the dark to look for crabs with the boys & Toni. Lots of fun catching them!

The proof of the pudding!
Taken from the house.
Photo courtesy of Jon & Sheila Mayo

Just received an e-mail from Jon & Sheila Mayo, who stayed in my house at Sabie Park recently. Sheila heard a loud bang at the kitchen door & they both saw a Hyena taking away a Bushbuck!  It must have killed it at the base of the door! Amazing sighting guys!

Beautiful scenery from a vantage point
 on one of the trails.
White-throated Nightjar
I couldn't get it to open its eyes!
Emerald Dove
Sacred Kingfisher
Lewin's Honeyeater

White-cheeked Honeyeater
Lace Monitor
My grandson told me it's name,
so I hope he is correct!

October 21st was the day Rowan & I were supposed to go to Nightcap National Park. However she didn't feel up to it, so I walked north along the coast path, then along the Central Trail to the Optus Trail & back again. It was a five hour saunter, through a variety of woodland types with some good birds on offer. I met Matt on the trail, who is a local birder/photographer. He was the one who gave me the thumbs up on a daytime roost of the White-throated Nightjar. Thanks mate!

Highlights: White-bellied Sea Eagle; Little Eagle; Emerald Dove; White-throated Nightjar; Blue-faced Honeyeater; Eastern Yellow Robin; Black faced Monarch & Olive-backed Oriole.

Pacific Baza
Rowan, being brave before
 entering the tunnel!
Bat sp.
The seasoned, hardened expedition members!
White headed Pigeon

The next morning dawn was a bit dark & gloomy. There had been rain overnight. But we got everyone together & drove to Stokers Siding & walked down an old railway line to explore a disused tunnel. We found a few bats & a few glow-worms, all very exciting for the kids.

The purpose of the walk on the beach!
On the way to the beach Jackson spotted these!
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Absolute brilliant birds!

After was spent walking the dogs on the beach & watching the rugby. Rosie & Geoff popped in on their way to the airport: they are going to Myanmar & NE India. Looking forward to hearing all about it guys in December upon my return.

And then it was all over! Ceggy & Rowan took me to the airport & New Zealand beckons! A fantastic nine days with the family. had a really good time.