2007 Australian Capital Territory Trip report #8
During our visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra earlier this year I was delighted to see several Gang-gang Cockatoos. This is a species I do not see all that often because its range is nowhere near where I live.
Gang-gang Cockatoos are found in south eastern New South Wales, southern Victoria and occasionally in the extreme south east of South Australia. While not an abundant species like the Galah, for example, they are moderately common in suitable habitat.
The Gang-gang Cockatoo prefers forests and woodlands where there is more rainfall than on the plains. In the Great Dividing Range, they can be found from sea level through to about 2000 metres altitude. They also prefer timbered watercourses and valleys and can sometimes be found on farmlands and even in suburban gardens.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve only see this species on a handful of occasions over the years. Many years ago when camping in the Snowy Mountains south-west of Canberra I remember an individual sitting in a pine tree eating seeds from the cones. All the parts of the cone he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like were dropped like hail stones on to the top of our car. It is a wonder they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t leave any dents as some pieces were quite large.
On this occasion I had the frustration of trying to photograph these beautiful parrots. They seem to like sitting high in the canopy of the trees and not show themselves sufficiently for a good shot. Of the dozen or so photos I managed to get, only the one above was reasonable to show here. It shows a male; the female lacks the red feathers.
2007 Australian Capital Territory trip report #7
On our second day in Canberra we went to visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens. This was another eagerly anticipated part of our holidays. We had previously visited these gardens over thirty years ago. The gardens had just been open to the public for a few years on our last visit.
A special feature of these botanic gardens is the fact that most if not all of the plants are Australian native plants. With our interest being primarily in native plants we were naturally very keen to visit there again. On entering the information centre we were given a map of the gardens. The guide suggested that most people take about an hour to an hour and a half to do the main walking trail. We assured the lady at the desk that we would be taking at least six hours, and we were a little over that time when we arrived back.
I was keen to visit the gardens because I could remember from that first visit so many years previously that it was an excellent place for birding. While I had a reasonable day with some good sightings, the day was a little quiet as far as bird numbers were concerned. Despite this, it was a most enjoyable day.
I will write more about the birds I saw in the coming days.
Over recent days I have written about several species of birds that I saw in Mannum. Mannum is a medium sized town on the River Murray about a half hour’s drive from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. It is a popular tourist destination. Many houseboats moored at Mannum are available for hire. The Murray Princess (see photo above) takes tourists on river cruises lasting three, four or seven days.
The birding in the Mannum district is interesting and quite diverse. There are the normal river birds such as Australian Pelicans, Silver Gulls, Australian Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks. Sometimes there are large numbers of Grey Teal and Chestnut Teal. On this occasion I also recorded a large number of Chestnut-breasted Shelducks a little further upstream, but they were too far away to photograph.
Just north of the well patronised and well appointed caravan park there are extensive wetlands. At present this area has large areas of mud flats due to the low level of the river. Due to the drought the river is at least a metre lower than normal. On these mudflats I saw Straw-necked, White and Glossy Ibis, Red-kneed Dotterel, Eurasian Coots, Purple Swamphens and Dusky Moorhens. Several Yellow-billed Spoonbills were also seen feeding in the shallows.
The reeds lining these wetlands are suffering badly at present because of a lack of water. That didn’t prevent me recording the Little Grassbird and the Australian Reedwarbler. In the trees lining the wetlands I saw Red-rumped Parrots, Crested Pigeons, Galahs, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Willie Wagtail and Grey Fantail. Also seen or heard were White-plumed Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and a Peaceful Dove.
Sitting on the bank of the river here can be rewarding. This is one good way of observing a number of species flying past. In this way, together with a cup of tea at hand and lunch from the local bakery in my hand, I added Caspian Tern, Crested Tern, Whiskered Tern, Whistling Kite, Welcome Swallow, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Egret, Little Corella and Little Raven.
We drove along the river towards the small town of Bow Hill. Stopping at various points along the way I added Masked Lapwing, Black Swan, Blue Bonnet Parrot and White-faced Heron. In the trees lining the river I observed Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Singing Honeyeaters. A Grey Shrike Thrush added its beautiful song to the lovely morning. At one stage I heard a Sacred Kingfisher but I didn’t see it. I did manage to catch sight of a solitary Laughing Kookaburra flying near the river bank.
I also heard a small flock of Rainbow Bee-eaters and saw a family of White-browed Babblers near the side of the road as we drove along.
On my visit yesterday to Mannum (just north of home in Murray Bridge South Australia) I saw two Red-kneed Dotterels on the mudflats just north of the caravan park. The mud here is exposed because of the low level of the Murray River at this point. Normally it is about a metre higher than it is at present.
Red-kneed Dotterels are small wading birds found throughout Australia where suitable habitat occurs. These habitats include shallow freshwater wetlands like the one at Mannum. They also occur in other habitats including brackish waters, salty swamps and sewage ponds. Although they can occur in small flocks, my experience of this species is usually in ones or twos. The one photographed above and below was rather skittish, and with good reason. Nearby I observed another bird in immature plumage but it didn’t pose well enough for me to get a good shot of it. I nice species to add to my gallery and list for the day.
REJOICE WITH ME!
I have finally seen a Glossy Ibis – and this one was not in a zoo or a walk-through aviary.
We had a reason to drive to Mannum this morning, about a half hour drive upstream from Murray Bridge. When we arrived I suggested to my wife that I would like about ten minutes birding at the wetlands just north of the town, near the caravan park.
This ten minutes stretched into about twenty minutes – my wife can be very patient. I managed a very good list of 38 species. I was just about to head back to the car when I spotted a solitary Glossy Ibis feeding on the mudflats about a hundred metres away. Because of the distance I didn’t even bother to take a photo. Instead I have included on this post two shots of this species taken recently in the walk-through aviary at the Adelaide Zoo.
After identifying the bird as a Glossy Ibis – and getting my wife to check it out for me to confirm it – I did a little dance. This species has been something of a bogey bird for me. I’d see it numerous times in zoos. I read about numerous sighting all over Australia – some in places I’d been just a day or two before. I knew they were widespread in many parts of Australia, but for over 30 years of birding this remained an elusive species for me.
What a relief.
Problem is now – which species takes over the mantle of Most Sought After Bird?
I’ve only got about 450 species to choose from!
For other Great Birding Moments click here.