Wouldn’t you just know it…splendiferously perfect weather all week and then on the day we decide to go for a picnic and a bit of birding the clouds come up and the rain comes down!
Still, we decided to go, heading west in the hope of avoiding the coastal showers. Weatherzone radar was wrong again – true it only spat with rain for a bit around Rathdowney but the clouds remained heavy and lowering all day until mid-afternoon.
Anyway, we first found a delightful spot by a creek for smoko – a giant apple and cream turnover for me and an equally large apple and walnut scroll for Bob, plus iced coffee. We set up our chairs and got out our binoculars and admired the scarlet display of callistemons all along the creekbank. At this time of year this graceful riverine tree is in full glory. Here and there, twined among the callistemon branches, were the bright golden flowers of the Twining Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandens). And birds there were a-plenty: Scarlet and Brown honeyeaters, Bar-shouldered Doves calling continuously, Noisy Friarbirds living up to their name, Leaden Flycatchers, Striated Pardalotes, Rainbow Lorikeets and many more species typical of the habitat.
Then on to Lake Maroon which looked moody and rather like a Scottish loch, backed by brooding mountains and with its polished pewter surface reflecting the overcast sky. A very different palette to the last time we visited, when everything was vivid blue and green with an occasional fluff of white cloud.
But at least it wasn’t raining. A meander around part of the lake shore gave us Coots, Jacanas and a duck or two as well as a splendid pair of Black Swans. Fig Birds and a single Oriole were busy in the fig trees scattered around the picnic area as these were heavy with fruit. As we use every opportunity when birding to make observations for our ongoing aggression study Bob was quick to observe a couple of stoushes between a pair of Willie Wagtails and other birds, notably a Magpie Lark. Sure enough, we soon discovered the tiny, exquisitely-wrought nest of the Willie Wag on a bare branch sticking out of a dead stump about five metres offshore. And right next door to it was an equally dead and bare tree, with the mud cup nest of the Magpie Lark. Neighbours but by no means friends!
We sipped our beer and ate our giant hunks of pita bread stuffed with rare roast beef, horseradish sauce and green bean salad, plus hard-boiled eggs and olives and biscuits-and-cheese. We were too full then to move, but with plenty of vegetation nearby we were able to keep on watching the avian variety theatre without getting up from our seats. It was good to see (and hear!) the big Channel-Billed Cuckoos back with us after winter and in fine voice too and we also heard the first Koel of the season.
Once our digestions were in reasonable order again we set off for home with an ice cream stop at pleasant little Boonah and a longer stop at Lake Wyaralong, outside Beaudesert. Here we were able to watch a group of sculptors at work, as part of the Wyaralong Sculpture Festival and Symposium which has attracted seven acclaimed sculptors from here and overseas. Each one is working on his or her piece for 16 or so days and these will form part of a sculpture park on the lakeside, at the eastern end of the Mt Joyce mountain bike/walking track. It was interesting seeing modern sculptors at work, using power tools and looking more like tradesmen that artists – dunno what Rodin would have made of it but Henry Moore would probably have liked having all those modern tools with which to make big holes!
Then it was home, tired but happy to have once again spent some time enjoying the beautiful country that lies behind our mountain.