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.