Monday, 13 August 2007

Hunting the wild bustards

The last time I went to Chillagoe, I saw bustards. In fact, I saw them twice. The first sighting was on the track connecting Mount Surprise and Almaden. Then I spotted more near Chillagoe itself. But that was nearly fifteen years ago. What were the odds of seeing bustards on this trip?

Late on Sunday afternoon, we drove out to Balancing Rock, which is a short distance south of Chillagoe. We were going to look at the scenery, have a wander around, be tourists for a while before a gin and tonic and an early dinner at the Post Office Hotel. We didn't have great expectations of the wildlife. We knew we'd probably see a wallaroo and maybe some red-tailed black cockatoos on their way to roost, if we were lucky.

But we were more than lucky. We had just turned onto the road to the National Park, when a couple of bustards strutted across the road right in front of us. They didn't hurry, didn't seem at all bothered by us. We got a good look at the birds before they disappeared among the termite mounds at the side of the road. Celebrations all round. (They would have been more enthusiastic if I had brought my camera. But my companion had been sensible enough to bring his, so the moment was recorded.)

Strolling bustards near Chillagoe (Photo by M.)

On the same day, we saw another bustard. And on the Monday, either a fourth individual or a repeat viewing of one of the others just north of town. (This time I had my camera.) So, three or four bustards in a weekend. Can't be disappointed by that!

The view through a dusty windscreen. (Top photo by M, lower photo by me.)


John Tongue said...

Sounds like you've had a great trip! Now the fun of planning your next adventure!

John Tongue
Ulverstone, Tas.

Duncan said...

Fantastic bird, I'll never forget the first one we saw, in farmland just north of Bordertown.

Snail said...

John, I've just been talked out a drive to Geraldton. (It wasn't really practical. I don't think I could get there and back in 10 days. Not in one piece, anyway.)

Duncan, you lucky thing! I've never seen them down here. It's great to know they're still around in the SE.

cogresha said...

Great pics! I want to see a Bustard!

Trevor said...

I am very, very, very jealous.

Did I tell you about the day I saw FIVE Mallee Fowl in a ten minute period????

Snail said...

Mallee fowl! Oh, you lucky duck, Trevor. Never seen one. Have seen the road signs on the edge of the Little Desert, but it's not quite the same.

Snail said...

They're wonderful birds, Cogresha. The one on the road took off when I wound down the window for a better view. I was expecting it to be a bit lumpy and ungainly but it was really quite graceful.