This is what people who hate camping think it’s all about, right? I suspect spiders, high winds and rowdy neighbours also make that list. Yep, a big tick next to them too – it’s all to play for when you camp in the summertime in Wollemi National Park.
But Ganguddy, or Dunn’s Swamp, to give its inaccurate and charmless non-indigenous name, was just as marvellous this January as it was when we first visited this time last year.
Ganguddy in early dawn light
Dew on some kind of orchid?
Lichen on native cyprus
Dawn at Ganguddy
Strange club shaped lichens
Dusk at Ganguddy
View from the pagoda lookout
Yes, there were more reptiles – lethal and benign – but to balance it out, there was also less torrential rain. At no point this year did it seem likely that the full set of adult campers, each clinging to a leg of the kitchen-gazebo, would take off and fly over the pagoda rock formations like a quartet of grubby Mary Poppinses. It rained, but not inside any of the tents. And the whining teenagers weren’t my delightful children but the feathered offspring of the camp ground locals.
“Where are you?”
Juvenile noisy friarbird wants a snack
It seems a bit unfair for such giant children to be demanding food, although Gisela Kaplan in her fascinating book “Bird Minds” suggests some evolutionary advantages to having hungry teenagers hanging around. Apparently adults noisy friarbirds only feed the young’uns for three weeks after fledging -hard to believe this galumphing one was so close to being a fluffster.
But you can see where all that food goes. You reckon your adolescent’s feet are big? What about junior purple swamphen‘s clodhoppers?
Juvenile purple swamp hen with giant feet
Adult swamp hen feeding the hungry bairns
Unhygenic as it sounds, the drop dunny seemed to be a particularly popular spot for a snack. The baby grey fantails spent a lot of time looking deliberately cute there in order to get a feed. If you were still uncertain about the superiority of the earth toilet, this little guy is a clincher I reckon.
Juvenile grey fantail hanging around the drop toilets
“Please feed me – I’m cute!” – juvenile grey fantail
The white-browed scrubwren also enjoyed loitering out around the toilets. I didn’t see any juveniles, but then this one looked so stern, perhaps they were there but just too nervous to beg for tucker.
Grumpy looking white browed scrubwren
The suspiciously touselled looking eastern yellow robin – a juvenile perhaps – had worked out that the best place for tucker is definitely the barbecue.
Eastern yellow robin having a picnic
Eastern yellow robin
I’m not sure if the adult reed warbler had gone into head down, bum up, to feed some chicks, or if it was just going to extreme lengths to avoid facing the long-lensed papperazzi. I was rather pleased when after two years of trying I finally got a picture of one, without even having to visit the Rylstone Guns and Ammo for a flame thrower to thin out that pesky, snap obscuring habitat.
Reed warbler nest
And, miracle of miracles, I found an azure kingfisher without ADD. I reckon I can put away my paddle now – 18 months of kayaking have not been in vain.
At last – a sluggish azure kingfisher
The invasive gambezi minnows that fill this reservoir – built in the 30s as a water supply for a concrete works – seem to be an optimal snack size for the kingfishers – I saw plenty of them, along with a randy musk duck, the ubiquitous Eurasian coots and a pair of Nankeen night herons that alighted, mockingly, in the trees opposite the campsite, just after it got a tiny bit too dark for a decent photograph. But there was nothing larger – no whistling kites, for one. Judging from the frustration level of the fisherman in our party and the track record of these mosquitofish of outcompeting native rivals, I suspect there weren’t many more substantial meals to be had (on the bright side, possibly thanks to the fish, there weren’t too many mosquitos making meals of us either).
Musk duck courtship display
Musk duck tail on display
With all these LBBs – and all the fast moving ones I didn’t get a decent shot of – busy flocks of brown thornbills high in the canopy, white-throated tree-creepers spiralling their way up the tea trees, the baffling grey strike-thrush, the white-eared honeyeaters darting around in the dew drenched dawn – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the snake that sidled through the camp site or or the one slithered along the ironstone tops. Let’s hope the top predators were more successful at catching the flighty little buggers* than I was.
Rock formations near the dam
Currawongs at the camp site
Tiger snake on ironstone?
Red bellied black snake in the campsite
Sandstone and lichen
More sandstone and lichen
Silhouettes of the camp site trees
Dawn over “Swallow rocks”
*Okay I know red-bellied blacks mostly eat frogs, which is why they were down by the reedbeds near the camp. But I bet they don’t object to the odd gormless yellow robin if it’s available.
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There’s more info about the history and geology of Ganguddy in my previous post from here: In other sandstone country