Great Birding Moments # 23 Eurasian Coot nesting
Earlier this year on a visit to Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills I was delighted to see the nest of an Eurasian Coot in full view of the boardwalk through the wetlands area. From what I can recall, this is the first time I have ever seen a coot’s nest. It is quite an impressive structure.
Good Birding Spot: Tolderol Game Reserve
Tolderol Game Reserve is something of a mecca for South Australian birders and often attracts interstate birders as well. I must admit that although it is only about an hour’s drive from Murray Bridge I have only been there a handful of occasions, and then only in the last few years.
Being a game reserve it has been set aside for shooters. The game shooting season in this state is restricted to only a few days annually, and on some years shooting is closed all year. In recent years this has been as a result of the extended drought we are experiencing.
Tolderol Game Reserve consists of a series of shallow ponds and connecting channels. Until recently there was usually water in the ponds at all times. At present there is very little water, even in the channels.
A wide variety of water birds can usually be found here: ducks, spoonbills, egrets, herons, ibis, swans, geese, grebes, darters, pelicans, dotterels, plovers, lapwings, crakes, rails, stilts and avocets.
Other species recorded include hawks, harriers, eagles, kites, terns, gulls, sandpipers, stints and other small wading birds.
The game reserve is next to the northern shore of Lake Alexandrina. On my last visit I didn’t take any photos of the reserve; without water and birds it was most uninteresting so I took the photo below of the lake. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling basin drains into this lake which in turn flows into the Coorong and the Southern Ocean.
Willie Wagtail v Brown Falcon
I was amused while out in the garden yesterday as a Brown Falcon glided low over the tree tops nearby. Our resident Willie Wagtail was harassing the much bigger bird, seeing it off over the road.
It seems oddly out of place to see a Willie Wagtail, at about 20cm in length, attacking the falcon at about 50cm in length with a metre or so of wingspan. Willie Wagtails are quite often seen attacking birds many times their size. This is particularly so in the breeding season.
This brings me to another point. I have yet to find a nest of the Willie Wagtail this season. They usually nest within about twenty metres of the house. Not so this year. I wonder if it is the severe drought we are currently experiencing?
Honeyeaters of Lowan Conservation Park
Lowan Conservation Park is a reserve of remnant mallee scrub in the midst of wheat and sheep farms. It is several hundred hectares in size with a rainfall of probably about 300mm in an average year. It is about 120km east of Adelaide in South Australia.
When the mallee trees are in flower the honeyeaters abound. I have visited when there have been no trees flowering and consequently very few honeyeaters. On other occasions I haven’t know where to point my binoculars first, there are so many birds. On these exciting occasions the birding is simply wonderful. I have observed the following species in or near the park:
- Red Wattlebird – resident and common
- Singing Honeyeater – resident and common
- White Eared Honeyeater – resident and common
- Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater – probably resident
- Brown Headed Honeyeater – resident and common
- Yellow Plumed Honeyeater – probably resident
- Striped Honeyeater – regular visitor spring, summer
- White Fronted Honeyeater – possibly resident
Other species which could occur when the conditions are right include:
- Purple Gaped Honeyeater
- Yellow Throated Miner
- White Plumed Honeyeater
- New Holland Honeyeater
- Black Honeyeater
- Tawny Crowned Honeyeater
The flight of the baby honeyeater
This week we have had some horrible weather. Hot days over 40 degrees with dust blowing wildly from the parched north of the state suffering the worst drought in living memory. Thankfully it is a little cooler today.
During the hot weather I saw a baby New Holland Honeyeater that appeared to have just emerged from the nest. He was hovering like a little helicopter, not being really sure what this flying business was all about. It must be difficult in good conditions; trying to learn to fly when it is so hot and so windy must be a tremendous challenge.
This little one settled long enough for me to get this photo. I then quickly retreated because Mum and Dad were nearby, fussing around with more food for this hungry youngster.
- Why do baby birds disappear? An article I wrote recently in response to a reader’s question about baby birds.