Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tolderol and Pangarinda

Yesterday I decided to go and check out one of my favorite birding spots, Tolderol Game Reserve. This reserve is on the northern shore of Lake Alexandrina, which, until recently, has been dry for about 2 years. As Tolderol gets its water pumped from the lake, Tolderol had also completely dried out. The lake is now almost full again, (due to floodwater from Queensland flowing down the River Murray), and I was hoping for Tolderol to be wet again. To get there I headed over the Adelaide Hills and drove through a wonderful Sunrise. I stopped at Strathalbyn, normally a bustling town, but all was quiet just after dawn. This is a lovely little park in the centre of town, and it's resident Pacific Black Ducks were very quick to investigate me for any food!! Just outside "Strath" I noticed a movement in a tree, and a quick U-turn later I was watching a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. This is a fairly common bird in South Australia, but they are not very confiding. I still haven't got any good shots, and this one is the best of a bad bunch. On the way in to Tolderol, I passed a couple of feral camels. There is a large population of camels in Australia, mainly from escapes and releases from a time before railways criss-crossed Australia and people used camel trains to transport goods to and from outback towns. Unfortunately, Tolderol hadn't improved, and most of the reeds have died, but on the lake there was plenty of avian activity and there was a group of Whistling Kites and a lone Black-shouldered Kite at the picnic site on the lake shore. I had been hearing the calls of Golden-headed Cisticola and White-fronted Chat but not seen them, so I sat quietly and waited. As the sun came out a cisticola popped up and I manage a couple of shots whilst slowly stalking closer. I had no joy with the chat until I was on the way out and I surprised this male on a perch by the track. On the way home, I headed east towards Wellington, and saw this tree full of Galahs. Just over the river at Wellington is the Pangarinda Arboretum. This small arboretum is always a good spot, and this time there was a wonderful show of Banksias in flower.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Stormy sunset from the Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Monday, June 21, 2010

Little Para Linear Park

In between showers on Sunday I visited another local wetland at White's Road. It is part of the Little Para Linear Park, which follows the course of the Little Para River. Whites Road Wetland sits between the evaporation Ponds and the production area of the local saltfields and is in a fertile area used for agriculture and also horse breeding and training (due to it's close proximity to Globe Derby Trotting Track). As I started birding, I could have been fooled into thinking I was back in England!! My first birds of the day where all immigrants like me!! Greenfinch, Goldfinch and House Sparrow, along with calling Starlings and Blackbirds. These were all seen around one of the access gates to the Saltworks, so the setting is not particularly aesthetic. There were some locals here as well, with Singing Honeyeater enjoying the sunshine, and Welcome Swallows hawking for insects and taking a breather on the fence. Then I moved on to the wetlands where I walked along a path that is the closest we get to an english country lane. With all the rain, there is plenty of standing water so the lake wasn't as packed with birds as it usually is. The ground is covered with an invasive weed (Soursob) at the moment, and they are just beginning to flower. The bees were busy collecting pollen and you can see the pollen on the back legs of this one. This noisy Red Wattlebird caught my attention proudly showing its yellow belly, and when I got back to the car, I was very soundly told off by Willie Wagtail for parking too close to a favoured perch!! Whilst I was walking I kept hearing the lovely flutey song of a Grey Shrike-thrush, and I thought I had spotted him in an old Casuarina, but it was a Spotted Dove (another immigrant - but from Asia this time). Finally I caught up with him, as I whistled a poor imitation of his song, and he popped up to see who was answering him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Winter - Kaurna Wetlands Park

We've had some reasonable rain this autumn, so I decided to have a quick walk around "my" wetlands to see how they were progressing. Most of the channels had some water in them, but the wetland area is still dry and looking very lush and green. The eastern stormwater pond was almost full, and had a Little Pied Cormorant, a White-faced Heron and a couple of Pacific Black Duck's in attendance. It wasn't until I got to the northern path that I began to see some flowering Eucalypts. There seemed to be three different types in bloom with red, yellow and apricot coloured flowers respectively. The Red Wattlebirds seemed to prefer the red flowers. The White-plumed Honeyeaters spent most time in the yellow flowering trees. And, as usual, the New-holland Honeyeaters were absolutely everywhere!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monarto Zoo

Yesterday we visited Monarto Zoo. Monarto is about 40 minutes drive South East of Adelaide, and is an open zoo. It is spread over a large area and there are buses that take you through some of the exhibits. There are also walking trails here. It is built on the site of an old cattle station, so much of the land had been cleared, but the zoo is making efforts to return muck of the land to it's original state. Out first stop was to see Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies. I have seen these a few times in captivity, and though looking for them a few times in the Flinders Ranges, have yet to see them in the wild. It was not until I looked at the photos that I noticed the size of their feet!! They certainly live up to their family name of macropods!! At the back of the wallaby exhibit were a noisy group of White-winged Chough. I am still waiting to get a decent shot of this common Adelaide hills resident. We then visited the Chimpanzees. At the moment Monarto has four young males, but four females from Amsterdam Zoo are due to arrive soon, and they are hoping to begin a breeding program here. Then we took the bus through the "African Savannah" to the carnivores. As we passed through, we saw this very cute two month old Zebra, Black Rhino and the largest captive journey of Giraffes in the Southern Hemisphere. (I also learnt this new collective noun!) The carnivore exhibit has Spotted Hyaena, Wild Dogs and Lions. The hyena were too distant for a shot, but the dogs and lions obliged very nicely. This Little Raven was picking up scraps left over by the Wild dogs. Today is a public holiday in Australia, so I hope to get out and get some shots for another post.