Sunday, September 12, 2010
Coorong and the Lower Lakes
Yesterday, I took a short trip to the northern end of the Coorong National Park, and the Lower Lakes. There were two reasons for my trip. Firstly, three rare and endangered Orange-bellied Parrots had been seen there on the last OBP survey a couple of weeks ago, and secondly, the bund wall between Lakes Alexandrina and Albert is going to be breached this week, as it is in danger of being washed away by flood water. On the way, there was a very confiding Nankeen Kestrel. They usually fly away if you stop anywhere close, but this one let me reposition the car three times before I overstepped the mark!! I started at Long Point where there were a couple of Pied Oystercatchers just off shore from the campsite. There were lots of Welcome Swallows flying around, and my many attempts at flight shots were all dismal, so I compensated with some nice perched ones. Around the car park there were a few Singing Honeyeaters, busy competing for the best song perch. This one decided a bush close to my car was a good spot.......I agree. This area is known as the Limestone Coast, and a little further on I came across an area of limestone interspersed with plants. I kept seeing movement, but could only see plants, until I spotted this Australian Pipit playing hide and seek. Amongst the plants were a lot of blue flowers that look like Lupins to me. The limestone made a cliff against the lagoon, and there were a number of Galahs resting there. Then a commotion in the bushes behind me gave away the location of a party of White-browed Babblers. A Grey Shrike-thrush was singing away, so I replied with a whistle, and he soon came to investigate. Further on again, and the track headed over a ridge and showed the full beauty of the Coorong, a series of lagoons separated from the sea by sand dunes. There had been no sign of any Orange-bellied Parrots, or of any other Neophema parrots, and I was almost at the end of the park. I noticed a sheltered area of saltmarsh just off the track and started scanning. Nothing at first, but as I got my eye in I spotted a small parrot, then another. I was straining to identify them. Was it an Orange-bellied? No, eventually I decided they were Elegant Parrots, much more common cousins. In the end I counted about 8 parrots foraging in the Samphire and couldn't turn any of them into Orange-bellied. Once out of the National Park, I headed to the ferry at Narrung, and the bund wall. This was put in to stop water draining from Lake Alexandrina into Lake Albert, but with the increased flows down the River Murray, Lake Alexandrina is almost full, and the water level is threatening to flow over the bund. There was a White-faced Heron feeding along the bund, and on a small sand bar behind it, a group of Pelicans with a Great Egret and Little Black Cormorant. I was hearing a lot of Reed Warblers along the edge of the lake, and this one popped into view allowing me to grab a couple of shots.