Monday, August 10, 2015

Australia 2015 Day 1

July 3, 2015

While waiting for our flight we visited with a cowboy and a cowboy clown (they were visiting Australia for a bull riding event). Our seat mate for the long 14 hour flight was an exchange student who was on her way to new Zealand. We made it to Brisbane after 14 hours of movies and sleep. I spent time watching a bull riding movie, The Longest Ride and an Australian movie called Paper Planes (cute) and slept for a while. When we arrived, my Samsonite luggage had one wheel missing. It had been completely broken off. Virgin Australia gave me a new piece of luggage to make up for it. It wasn't as good as the Samsonite, but it had the same features. I thought it was nice of Virgin Australia to just give me new luggage on the spot.

After that we had to figure out how to get to Atlas Rent-A-Car. While waiting, 17 Straw-necked Ibis flew over. We misidentified them at first since our binoculars were still in our backpacks (they were black-and-white in-flight and we thought they might be magpie goose) but we figured it out as soon as we managed to rip our binoculars out of our backpacks.

Andrew, at Atlas rental car, helped us set up the car for tolls. That way when we went through Sydney and Brisbane bridges, tunnels, and faster highways, we wouldn't have any problems dealing with it. Then we started getting used to the car.

Bob was declared the official driver. Driving on the left is very interesting. The windshield wipers were used a lot in place of the turn signals until he got it down. The windshield wiper and turn signal controls are on the opposite sides of the steering wheel from those in the United States.

We found Boondall Wetlands and immediately saw Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, and Willie Wagtail. As we tried to figure out how to tour the area, we enlisted help from one of the people who work at the Visitor Center. She explained the various paths we could take and asked if we had seen the Tawny Frogmouth. We hadn't and of course we wanted to! So we got great looks at a Tawny Frogmouth on our first day in Australia!

We had fun figuring the birds out, watching their behavior, and trying to get a handle on being "new birders" all over again. Around 1 PM, we stopped for lunch at Nudgee beach and had close up looks at Butcher Bird, Australian Magpie, White Ibis, and Blue-faced Honeyeater. Bob had a burger and chips and I had fish and chips. (Ketchup does not come with chips there, it's called tomato sauce and costs a dollar to $1.50 depending on where you go.) Bob noticed that there was a beet in his burger. Apparently beets are a big deal on sandwiches over here. Since Bob likes beets it was no big deal, and he gave me a bite and it tasted good to me.

After lunch we birded a boardwalk and the beach before searching for a location called the Dowse Lagoon. Once we figured out how to park!!!, we enjoyed the Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens, and tons of Ibis mixed in with Little Black Cormorants, Intermediate Egret, Pacific Black Duck, and Hardhead which is also known as a White-eyed Duck.

It was getting dark as we headed for Lytton to find our hotel, Waterloo Bay Hotel. After some confusion, we got a room with key controlled lighting. You have to put the plastic part of the key chain in a slot on the wall or the lights don't work. We unpacked from the car (a blue Nissan pulsar) with license TVT-total vulture tours. That would help me remember the license plate. We had pizza and salad and a hot chocolate at the Fig Restaurant at the Hotel. A lot of the hotels have things called Pokies, which are casino-like games that are very popular here.

As we were crashing from our adrenaline filled day, we did the bird list, 41 species for our first day in Australia.