Archive for May, 2011

Birds at the Whispering Wall, Barossa Reservoir

Rock Dove at the Barossa Reservoir, South Australia

On our trip to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia last week we stopped briefly to have lunch at the Whispering Wall. This popular name for the wall of the Barossa Reservoir between Williamstown and Gawler was built between 1899 and 1902. The retaining wall (see photo below) is parabolic in shape which has a unique property. Visitors can stand at one end of the wall, speak softly and can be heard quite clearly by others 140 metres away at the other end.

I was much more interested in the birds in the picnic ground, on the reservoir and in the nearby bushland. A large group of Eurasian Coots could be seen on the water but I didn’t see any other water birds (see photo below). A small number of Rock Doves were haning around the installation along the wall (see photo above) and dozens of Welcome Swallows swooped low over the water and came to rest on the railings. I tried to get close enough to photograph them but they flew off over the water again.

In the picnic area I recorded a number of bush birds, including:

  • Red Wattlebird
  • Noisy Miner
  • Australian Magpie
  • Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Galah
  • Adelaide Rosella
  • Laughing Kookaburra
  • White-plumed Honeyeater
  • Willie wagtail
  • Grey Fantail
  • Magpie Lark
  • Little Raven

This is not a long list, but we were only there for about 20 minutes and I didn’t search out other species in the surrounding bush. I was more interested in eating – and getting on with our journey.

Whispering Wall, Barossa Reservoir, South Australia

Eurasian Coots on the Barossa Reservoir, South Australia

Birding on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Cape Spencer, Yorke Peninsula

Over the last weekend my wife and I had a short four day holiday on Yorke Peninsula. We stayed in a holiday unit at Edithburgh, about a four hour drive from our home. Edithburgh is a small town near the bottom of the peninsula, directly opposite Adelaide which is on the other side of Gulf St Vincent.

It has been far too many years since our last visit. The peninsula offers some interesting birding with mixed farming covering most of the region, mainly wheat and sheep. There are also remnant mallee scrub areas, particularly in the south and of course the long coast line offers good birding opportunities where there is access to the beaches. One major goal was to spend time in Innes National Park on the southern tip of the peninsula.

On this visit I didn’t anticipate making a long list of birds seen. Many of the migratory seabirds have long since flown to warmer parts in the northern hemisphere. In another blow, the weather forecast was far from promising good birding; gale force winds and rain. Still, we had a booking in one of the many holiday units and we were looking for a relaxing break regardless of what was thrown at us.

I didn’t see any of my target birds: Mallefowl, Western Whipbird and Hooded Plover, but I still managed some great birds, including Crested Bellbird, Blue Bonnet parrot, Rock Parrot and great views of Ospreys.

Over the coming days I will share some of my sightings, along with the usual photographs.

Haystack Island, Yorke Peninsula

Lower Murray Bird Club

Last night I was the guest speaker at the Lower Murray Bird Club here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. I had previously showed bird photos and spoke about Australian birds to this group about 3 years ago. Thinking that the membership is probably fairly static over a relatively short period of time, I made up a completely new talk with more recent photos to show. Just as well, because quite a few remembered my talk from back then.

I’m not into keeping birds in cages or aviaries, preferring to see my birds in the natural state. All the same, it was good to speak to a group of people who are all bird lovers, no matter where one sees them. Out of the many thousands of bird photos I could draw on for my talk, I tended to focus on those I had taken in walk-through aviaries, especially those at Adelaide Zoo.

I was made to feel most welcome and the audience was very attentive to what I had to say. I think they also enjoyed the photos I had chosen. I only wish I had a small portion of their bird knowledge, especially in the care of birds. I could be so much more helpful to my many readers if I had a broader knowledge in this field. I am trying; recently I’ve added a few more books to my growing library which will help.

People living in South Australia have many bird clubs that they could join. While many of them do not have their own websites, there is a combined site listing names, localities and contact details. The site is the United Bird Societies of South Australia (Click to access).

If you are a member of a group which might like to have me as a guest speaker, don’t hesitate to contact me through my contact form at the top of this page, or click here.

Red Browed Finch

Portrait of a Magpie Lark

Close up view of a Magpie Lark

I like having several bird baths strategically placed around our garden. I especially like those we’ve placed with a good view from our sun room where we often sit to have our meals.

During hot weather especially there is a constant stream of birds of many species which come to drink from or bath in the water. On more than a few occasions I have raced off to get my camera for more photos to share here. On this occasion a Magpie Lark posed just right for a good portrait shot as he paused from drinking.

The white eyebrow indicates that this is the male of a resident breeding pair in our garden. They make a delicate bowl-shaped mud nest, usually quite high up in nearby mallee trees.

Close up view of a Magpie Lark

Willie Wagtail up close

Willie Wagtail

We have a resident breeding pair of Willie Wagtails in our garden. They are a constant delight as they flit around looking for insects to snap up for a tasty snack. They will often come quite close to us when we are working in the garden or sitting relaxing on the back veranda.

Due to higher than normal rainfall over the last nine months I’ve had to mow our grass quite a few times with our ride-on mower. As I move around mowing the Willie Wagtails follow the mower, snapping up insects disturbed by the machine. Sometimes I feared I’d actually drive over one of them because they were getting quite close.

The Willie Wagtails frequently come to our various bird baths for either a drink or to bathe. This always gives more opportunities to experience close encounters with this species. It also affords excellent opportunities for close up photography, such as the shot shown above.