March 29 - Wild Goose Chase

Our objective was a simple one. Find Castrobdella nymboidae known only from a place called "West Camp" near Nymboida. First, Nymboida consists of a school house and a few houses, hardly a town. Second, all of the access to decent forest required off-roading through old logging roads and fire tracks that cut through secondary forest. Third, the understory was dry as a bone everywhere we went. Not the right conditions for finding terrestrial leeches, though we did see a g'wana monitor lizard scampering up a tree (right) and kangaroos (wallabies really) bounding through the fields as we sped by looking for wet forest, all the while trying not to drive headlong into a speeding logging truck, or off a precipice.

Gene was the most successful today - 4 "lifers" for his bird watching roster. The leeches were elusive. We learned that West Camp does exist, but that whereever we were, "Aye, yer myles from thir, mate! West Camp's just a place we old-tymers know, it wone be mahked on a map er a sign. She's some 10 keelometahs sath a Nymboida. Good luck an' try not t'git lost out 'ere, right?"

The closest we could get was a lazy creek about 10 K south of Nymboida, where one lone 1/4 inch leech straggled out of the wet moss and ferns.

Determined, we pressed on into the late hours of the day, deep into Chaelundi National Park. But when 4 o'clock rolled around, we were no closer to our goal, and found ourselves arguging whether to press on and risk having to find our way out in the dark, or head back and try a stream we saw on the way in on the nearly impassable fire trail. In the end, fate in the form of a blown tire decided the matter. Seems the day-long pounding over river beds, boulders and fallen tree limbs had taken its toll as much on the vehicle as it had on us.