I had some business to attend to in town this morning. On my way home I stopped at the Rocky Gully Wetlands. I often drive past this wetland area either going to or coming from the CBD of our town. As I pass the various stretches of water I carefully glance over to see if there is anything unusual about.
This morning I observed two Black Swans. I can’t recall ever seeing this species at this location before. They are present in the area but not numerous as they can be in some other parts of Australia. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me. The photo below was taken some time ago in a completely different location – the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens.
Other species seen included:
Black Winged Stilt, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Australian Pelican, Masked Lapwing, Eurasian Coot, Willie Wagtail and a male Superb Fairy Wren.
From time to time I do a “Walk of the Estate.”
Translated, this means I wander around our five acre block of land on the outskirts of Murray Bridge in South Australia. This is about an hour’s drive SE of our state capital, Adelaide.
Our “estate” consists of mallee scrub, orchard, garden and an open paddock. Over the years I have recorded 113 different bird species, with over 30 of those breeding here. I have kept a monthly list of species seen or heard over the 22 years we have lived here.
The European Goldfinch is an introduced species in Australia and is common in many parts of Australia. It does not appear to have bred up in large numbers here in Murray Bridge, though I have seen a few from time to time, often near the Post Office. We have not seen them very often here on “the estate” until recently.
This morning I saw four of them out in “the paddock”. I’ve seen or heard them on three or four occasions in recent weeks. Perhaps they are seeking out new feeding grounds. Our winter has been abnormally dry so this may have forced them to seek food elsewhere.
Whatever the reason, I think they are a delightful species to have in our garden – despite being “foreigners.”
Hint # 14 Use a camera
With the advent of cheap, easy to use digital cameras with great zoom facilities, bird photography has become accessible to everyone. One doesn’t need to buy big, expensive telephoto lenses to get great shots of birds. An added bonus is that you don’t have to lug around a wheel barrow load of camera equipment, lenses, tripod, flash units and other assorted gear. If that turns you on, fine. Go ahead and ruin your back. Only joking. If you want to go down the professional photographer path you probably will need a truck load of gear, but for the ordinary birder, the modern digital camera means light, compact, ease of use and great results.
When I purchased a new digital camera in the middle of 2005 I rediscovered my interest in photography. Many years ago, over 30 years ago in fact, I bought a cheap SLR. I even got to the point of developing my own slide photos. I couldn’t really afford too many extras like expensive telephoto lens, and gradually the interest waned. The digital age has reignited a passion for photography.
I bought a Canon Powershot S2 IS digital camera with a 12x zoom facility. Now this was something of compromise. I bought it especially for the trek in the Everest region I did last January (read my travel blog for details of my adventures). I wanted a powerful camera with plenty of zoom but it had to be compact. I didn’t want to carry a great deal of heavy equipment, and the Canon, while something of a compromise, was ideal.
It has proved to be amazingly adept as a great camera for bird photography. It is easy to carry, even with binoculars around my neck. I have a loop tied in the strap so that it fits over my wrist and just dangles from there when not in use. This way it doesn’t bang against my binoculars. Nor does it interfere with viewing a bird using the binoculars. It is simple and quick to use and the 12x zoom facility is brilliant.
UPDATE: The model of camera I write about above has been through a series of different models and seems to be no longer available. Several new series of models have replaced it, and prices have dropped in recent years. Check out your favourite camera shop.
Updated November 2013.
Today we had some business to attend to in Murray Bridge. Our short journey took us past our favourite bakery, so we stopped to buy some lunch. We then drove down to the banks of the River Murray to eat our lunch. Although we only spent perhaps twenty minutes there, it is a very relaxing place to be.
All the usual birds were present:
Welcome Swallows, Silver Gulls, Eurasian Coots, Black Tailed Native Hens, Pacific Black Ducks, White Plumed Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark, Little Ravens and Willie Wagtail.
A lone Whistling Kite soared overhead.
As we ate our lunch a Little Egret steadily worked its way along the shallow water. It came to within five metres of the front of the car where we sat.
An ideal subject for my camera.
But the camera was at home in the office. A lost opportunity.
Next time perhaps.
On a recent visit to the Laratinga Wetlands near Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills I was pleased to record and photograph an Australian Shoveler. I have not observed this species of duck very often here in South Australia. I have probably been looking in the wrong places!