On our trip though the mid north of South Australia earlier this year we stopped at Burra Gorge for lunch. A short time after leaving the gorge we stopped briefly by the side of the main road for my wife to take a good look at some wild flowers growing on the road side verge. They were daisies and the bushes made a spectacular show against the dull grey-green colours of the salt bush growing in this area.
We only stopped for about five minutes, not long enough to check for bird life. I wasn’t aware of any birds calling and only saw a few as we drove along. In this open dry grasslands environment I would expect to see Australian Magpies, Little and Australian Ravens, several species of chats if the conditions are good, Black-shouldered Kites, Nankeen Kestrels, Wedge-tail Eagles, Australian Pipits, Galahs and perhaps one or two wren species. Crested Pigeons and Peaceful Doves are another possibility, as are various woodswallows from time to time.
The environment might appear to be lacking in birds, especially if one is only stopping for a few minutes. On closer inspection, and given a longer time frame, many species can be recorded.
WARNING: personal rant ahead.
Featured in our television news last night, and in our daily newspaper this morning, was news of a 19 year old jet ski rider on the Gold Coast in Queensland who deliberately ran over a Black Swan. Onlookers actually filmed him doing it and he has now been charged. He allegedly made three attempts before actually running over the bird. Although he didn’t kill the swan, it is feared that it might not survive.
My Opinion: ban all personal water craft
Personal water craft – often known by the brand name “Jet Ski” ® – should be banned in my opinion. Sure, most riders of these craft are responsible in the way in which they use them, and this one person’s actions are extreme and certainly not the norm.
I object to them on three environmental grounds:
- The noise pollution is unbearable. Not only does this highly annoy people, it has to be most distressing to wildlife, including birds.
- Water pollution: the machines are well known for their water polluting characteristics. The water ways of the world are polluted enough; to add to this pollution in the name of fun and recreation cannot be justified.
- Air pollution: it is a fact that two hours of operation of an early model personal water craft creates MORE air pollution than a late model car does driving over 200,000km. Granted, later model craft have seen some improvements in the amount of pollution created but the figures are still alarming.
I just can’t see why they are allowed at all.
My rant is over.
Now back to birding.
This post was updated on 5th November 2013.
Earlier this week I was working in our mallee scrub at the back of our house. I had been using the chain saw and was cutting up some fallen branches from a storm a few weeks earlier. As I was picking up the wood I’d cut I heard a noise which made me look skywards.
High above our five acre block I saw a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring on the wind. It was too high for the noise to have come from the eagle, but I’m pleased I looked up at that moment as it was quickly gliding away to the north. I didn’t have my camera with me; it was too far away for a photo anyway. So instead of a tiny dot in the distance I am using a photo of a Wedge-tailed Eagle I took earlier this year during the Free Flight Bird Show at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
The Cockatiel parrot is a species of the drier parts of Australia. It is an attractive bird despite its generally grey appearance. The highlight is the pale yellow face and crest and its distinctive orange ear patch in the male; the female being paler and greyer on the head. It is a bird of the open plains, open scrublands and woodlands and where cereal crops are grown.
The Cockatiel is a very popular cage bird. I can remember having one in a cage when I was a child. It will mimic the human voice and can be taught to say a few words.
I have recorded this species in our garden on a number of occasions over the years but it is by no means common here. Over the last month, however, I have seen and heard a solitary bird in the mallee scrub at the back of our house. I haven’t managed a photo of it yet. I suspect it is an escaped bird from someone’s aviary as it allows me to approach to within a few metres before flying off a short distance. Our neighbour has had several of this species in her aviary but I haven’t had a chance to ask her whether it’s her bird or not.
A few months ago we travelled through the mid north of South Australia to visit family in Peterborough and Clare. Along the way we stopped briefly at the Burra Gorge, some 30km south east of Burra. This is a popular picnic and camping area with an ephemeral creek flowing through the gorge. There are no facilities except for some very basic public toilets.
We didn’t stay long enough to get a long list of bird species seen, but I did manage the following shots of an Australian Magpie near and on a nest.