Sunday, October 11, 2009
St Kilda Saltfields
Late last year, one of Adelaide premier birding spots was closed to birders. This was due to the misuse of access by some people, and the owners decided to completely review their policy of allowing birders to have access. I am happy to say that they have now reopened the Saltfields to birders. Access is controlled by Birds SA, the South Australian affiliate to Birdlife International. Access is only granted once you have participated in an induction. You must also be a member of Birds SA if you are local, or a another recognised birding organisation if you are an interstate or international visitor. The saltfields are only 5 minutes drive from home, and yesterday I decided to visit for the first time this summer. Some migrants have started to arrive, and were evident almost as soon as I entered the site. The first group of waders (shorebirds) was a flock of about 250 Red-necked Stints - none of which showed any red as they were all either in fresh winter or juvenile plumages. As I made my way along the tracks I noticed a few pairs of Australian Shelducks - quite content if I kept on the move, but as soon as I stopped off they would go!! The female (separated by the white eye-ring) is in flight, and the male followed a split second later!! About halfway round is an area with a lot of dead trees, that has been taken over by 1000's of Little Black Cormorants as a roosting site. You always know if you are the first person past that day as they all fly off as the first car passes. Further on I saw a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Along with the stints seen earlier, these are our most numerous summer visitors and can number many tens of thousands at the height of summer. All around the saltfields Whiskered Terns could be seen swooping down picking insects off the waters surface. I had 50 or so attempts at a decent flight shot, but finally gave in, so you'll have to make do with this perched shot!! A very common resident is Masked Lapwing, and they can be very intimidating if you get too close to their nests or young. This one was happy to just watch me as I passed. During the couple of hours I was at the saltfields I saw around half a dozen Shingleback Lizards. These are among the most common lizards in South Australia and barely a day out will pass in the summer without seeing one or two.