I am beginning this in a camping spot at the very cool Ellenbrae Station just off the Gibb. This place has an awesome vibe to it, rustic coolness. Hard to describe.
|Lynn at a table in Ellenbrae Station. I love that place.|
I’ve had yet another shower. Yay! It has been over a month since I showered with hot, or even warm water. It has been just the cold tap since we’ve been up here, and it feels great. I am grateful.
|The amenities at Ellenbrae Station... rocky cool!|
Saturday the 16th was a slow birding day, but a high learning curve day for driving Troopi over rocks, ruts and holes down “tracks.” She is amazing. We made a semi-bush camp at the closed campground on Mt. Elizabeth Station.
The following morning we had to decide where we were going. This choice had been coming. We knew where we wanted to go, to the Mitchell Plateau in hopes of the Black Grasswren, but the road up to the plateau had been closed. We had just found out that it was still closed. So, without going into the details, I will just say that after an arduous, rough and rattling drive, we birded on the evening of the 17th. We got Buff-sided Robin and Kimberley Honeyeater and we got them on the Mitchell Plateau. I was very grateful, but we had not seen the grasswren... yet.
The next morning we were out at first light and across on the rocky escarpment near Little Mertens Falls where these grasswrens are sometimes seen. We had an insanely cute Monjon watching us curiously from the rocks. They are an endemic of far northwest Kimberley and they are the smallest of the Rock-wallabies.
|Monjon... a very cool little bundle of cute.|
While searching hard for the Black Grasswren, we picked up Green-backed Gerygone, another lifer for Lynn and me.
We headed off the trail and really began clambering over, between, across and around boulders. Or as George refers to it, “rock hopping.” This activity favors the long of leg, but Lynn hung in there with us on this very difficult terrain. I am so grateful. A check of her Fitbit showed that we traveled (climbed, clamored, stumbled) about 3 kilometers in total.
|Little Mertens Falls (Lynn is in the photo, you just have to look hard).|
We emerged from the boulders into a sort of clearing. Lynn took this opportunity to sit down on a rock, and I stepped off to the side behind a boulder (I had drunk my normal two mugs of coffee earlier). And at that moment, George found the grasswrens. Needless to say, I immediately stopped what I was doing and in seconds Lynn and I were standing beside him looking at two females and a male. The Black Grasswren is one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen. It truly is. I was able to grab a few photos and then we let them be. They had shown themselves beautifully and owed us nothing more. All that we had gone through to be there was so very much worth it. What a bird. What a place. I am grateful.
|The little clearing... that boulder in the center back is where they first showed.|
|Black Grasswren! (male)|
|Black Grasswren female|
|The male again, from the right angle they do look black.|
We left this wondrous place and drove back down the amazingly rutted, horribly corrugated, mud-hole filled track. After once again safely crossing it, we stopped and had a luxurious swim in the King Edward River.
|Troopi making us proud! Crossing the King Edward River (again). Thank you, George for taking our photo!|
|Lynn coming back from a swim.|
|Our swimming rock... a lovely place to slip into the river!|
We headed to Drysdale Station. They had showers, as I mentioned at the end of Part One. It was a lovely evening, and a very lovely shower! What a day that was! Black Grasswren, I am so very grateful!
The next morning we went to Miner’s Pool just north of the station and saw Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens again. The males were more in color than the ones we saw a couple of days ago. What gorgeous birds they are!
|Purple-crowned Fairy-wren. We have now seen all of the Fairy-wrens. I love them. |
On our way back to the main road, we stopped at the Gibb River crossing and gave Troopi a wash (no soap, just a good rinse).
|Lynn was washing on the other side... our girl had gotten very muddy!|
Then we reluctantly parted company and George headed west on the Gibb and we headed east. He taught us what Troopi can do and gave us the confidence to travel on and explore some of the more wild parts of Oz. He also showed us real bush-camping. Yes, we can do it, and we will do it again. Thank you, George, I am grateful.
Peace. Love. Birds.