Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ben Boyd National Park - Saltwater Creek, Boyd's Tower And A Bit Of Evening Adventure

Snakes are probably some of the most interesting animals you can stumble upon down under here in Australia! Interesting is exactly the right word, it has nothing to do with if you "like" or "hate" snakes, I probably used to be slightly on the scared side when it came to imagining how an encounter would be, but the more you read about these highly developed animals the more impressive and interesting they are - with a healthy understanding of the need to observe from a distance. On our way towards Boyd's tower in the northern end of the south part of the park this Tiger Snake was crossing the road just in front of the Magna. Rapidly blocking the breaks and having the Nikon handy gave just enough time to catch a few snapshots of this shy impressive creature.

Benjamin Boyd went through enormous amount of trouble to build his 20 meter tall tower. Initially the plan was to use it as a lighthouse, but as with Benjamin's own story the tower has had a colorful past.

The area around the tower looked promising; scrubby coastal heath with good possibilities of over viewing large areas and some patches with dense taller scrubby trees giving excellent opportunities for birds to hide .. in fact they were hiding(?) so well that we saw next to no feathered wildlife while walking around in the area surrounding Boyd's tower.

It was getting late and with a thick layer of clouds coming in, light was getting worse and our chances of spotting and documenting (by getting pictures) any rare bird where disappearing fast.

We decided to cover the entirety of the park by visiting Saltwater Creek Campsite and see if we would be lucky and spot a few of the specialties of the park, such as, Hooded Plover or maybe even a Ground Parrot on the heath area just south of the campsite. It was a great walk, we saw a White-bellied Sea-eagle cruising along the coast, but no sign of a tick :-) Managed to find a few wild orchids though and a good old fashion kangaroo grassing on the beach.

What a great day! Full speed all day and we had managed to cover nearly all parts of the national park. Sitting at the campsite I have now learned that when it goes slightly dark it is time to take the light hungry Bigma off the camera and take advantage of the built-in flash and the light collecting properties of the macro.

As the very last light of the day disappeared a last chance of a tick emerged on the sky; Swifts! Pulled a few photos with the macro and will have to go through them more carefully one day, but it mostly looked like White-throated Needletails .. great bird, but not a tick.

Ben Boyd National Park had a final little treat in place for us. When we arrived at the campsite, the people leaving the spot we had reserved for the weekend had pointed out that we should be careful with leaving food around since a gang of possums roaming the area opportunistically associated the presence of humans with presence of food, apparently they had lost any fright of humans.

The little fellow above was jostling through our camp looking for any leftovers not even noticing that we where still standing around chatting and brushing our teethes. Little G. decided to hide some fruit in the tent for breakfast instead of carrying it all back to the car. Amazingly what we believe to be a possum could smell the goodies on the other side of the thin tent wall and decided to try to eat an apple through the tent wall :-D

Ben Boyd National Park is a great spot! We saw heaps of exciting stuff; snakes, orchids, possums and bats flying around the campsite, super duper spot with some fantastic camping next to a great little beach. We tried some snorkeling which was slightly disappointing, but hey how much can you expect from one place? ;-) Leaving early Monday morning we were heading for something very different; Kosciuszko National Park.

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