Friday, December 28, 2012

Mallee birding at Gluepot Reserve

Today I met up with Chris Steeles for a few hours Birding in Birdlife Australia's Gluepot Reserve deep in the South Australian mallee.

It was pretty quiet when we arrived, but we did find some spots that were busy with birds.  Just off the Mallefowl walk we found a Shy Heathwren (Shy Hylacola) and a Chestnut Quail-thrush.

Then further on at Grasswren Tank, there was a busy watering station, with Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters and a Grey Currawong all coming to drink in quick succession.

St. Kilda Saltfields

On Boxing Day I went to St. Kilda Saltfields to see what migrant waders I could find. It was very quiet, and the usual spots had very few birds at all.

This young Australian Shelduck wasn't nervous enough to take to the wing, but made sure he kept close to mum and dad.

I spotted this Red-capped Plover on the salt build up on the edge of the lagoon, but I hadn't noticed the other one until I almost ran her over!  She was in the same spot when I left a few hours later, so I assume she has a nest nearby.


Also along the lagoon edges were a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints, but numbers were very low compared to previous visits.

Next stop was a small bush where I heard White-winged and Superb Fairywrens calling, but as soon as I stopped this Willie Wagtail took up his post on the top of the bush and scolded me roundly!!  no sign of the fairywrens after that.

There were plenty of Whiskered Terns, but true to form they were difficult to photograph.

Further on there was a single Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, and then a Pelican who promptly took flight.

It must have been a day for singles, as around the next bend was a single Red-necked avocet, and on the way out a Pied Cormorant with a fishermans hook caught in its beak.

Finally, I caught up with a flock of Banded Stilts.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ambers Gully - Prescribed Burn

This weekend I was on a prescribed burn at Ambers Gully in Blackhill Conservation Park.   This burn was on a steep ridge, and was required to reduce the fuel load in the case of a bushfire. The area we were burning is the whole of the ridge on the right of the photo below.

We met at the head of the gully, and shortly after, the burn commenced from the highest point moving downwards in both directions.

The burn was progressing well, and we soon we had smoke in front and behind our appliance.

I was crewed on "Mount George QRV" a Toyota Land Cruiser equipped with a 400 litre tank,with a pump and hose reel.  This is a "Quick Response Vehicle" and is used to quickly establish a response in the event of a bush fire.  We had to ensure that the fire did not cross the track that marked the eastern edge of the burn.

This edge was to provide a 30 metre burnt buffer zone to prevent the main fire from spreading to unplanned areas.   There was soon plenty of smoke, and the 30 metre buffer was soon completed.

This was the signal for the helicopter, a Eurocopter Ecureuil, to begin dropping incendiaries into the heart of the target area, which was soon well alight.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Skywatch Friday

Sunrise from our backyard, Burton, South Australia

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pengilly Scrub and from the garden

Last weekend I managed a couple of hours birding at Pengilly Scrub, near Gawler.  I get there a little later than I wanted, so most of the birds had quietened down.  One of the first birds I spotted was this male Spotted Harrier which I disturbed from a tree with a large nest.   Is it the harriers nest?  I'm not sure, but the bird was hanging around the whole time I was there

Birds were busy collecting food, so it has obviously been a great breeding season this year.   Brown Treecreepers were common and there were woodswallows everywhere. most common in the air were Masked Woodswallow, but busiest, feeding young on almost every available branch were Dusky Woodswallow

Finally When I got home, I heard this RAAF C-17 Globemaster on a visit to nearby Edinburgh Airbase from it's usual home in Queensland.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A walk in the Park

Kobe and I walk everyday, and our favourite walk is around the local wetlands park.  Now that Kobe is getting better behaved, I can take my camera.  Yesterday morning was a beautiful late spring morning with hardly a breath of wind, so I grabbed my camera, a handful of doggy cleanup bags, some dog treats and off we went.

The birds were all in good voice, with the raucous call of Red Wattlebird overpowering most.

The water levels are dropping quickly as we have had the driest spring for a few years.  In a shallow pool were of Royal Spoonbills, whilst on a wire overhead was an amorous Crested Pigeon, making no impact whatsoever on the target of his affection.

Halfway round is an open area where Kobe loves to run off the lead.

Heading back, another pool held half a dozen more Royal Spoonbills along with a single Yellow-billed Spoonbill.

Finally, on the last stretch before home, a different sort of bird flew over, Malaysian Airlines Airbus A330s on it's way into Adelaide Airport, and a couple of the more common honeyeaters, White-plumed and New Holland.