Archive for September, 2011

Tubbo Station, central New South Wales

Sydney Trip Report June 2011

On the second day of our return trip from Sydney we drove through Tubbo Station country near Darlington Point which is between Narrandera and Hay in the Riverina region of New South Wales. This large merino sheep station extends over nearly 19,000 hectares in size and runs over 10,000 sheep plus cattle. It also has extensive irrigation areas.

As we were driving along I jotted down a list of birds seen as we travelled the highway through the station. This is not the ideal birding experience and I would love to have stopped a few times but we had plenty of ground to cover on the day. While my wife was driving I made the following list of birds seen:

Australian Raven
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Australian Magpie
Australian Magpie Lark
Yellow Rosella
Spotted Harrier
White-necked Heron
White-faced Heron
Australian Wood Duck
Laughing Kookaburra

It’s not a big list but it has some interesting species in it. We saw very few Apostlebirds on our trip so it was good to see them feeding on the roadside. Yellow Rosellas, a sub-species of the Crimson Rosella, is always a delight to observe. Spotted Harriers are wonderfully majestic birds as the soar over the paddocks and the herons were obviously taking advantage of the fact that there were many irrigation channels in the area.

Probably the highlight for me was seeing three White-necked Herons flying together. This species has been something of a bogey bird for me. Although widespread and common in my home territory, I have observed this species on only a handful of occasions over the last two decades.

The photo below was taken only a few days ago at Mannum in South Australia.

White-necked Heron being harassed by a Silver Gull

Birding in the Narrandera region

Wetlands at Narrandera, New South Wales

Sydney Trip report June 2011

I’ve been really slow getting these trip reports written and posted here; life has been busy and demanding. (I’m supposed to be retired – whatever that means.)

On our return leg from a holiday in Sydney in June of this year we stopped for one night at Narrandera. It’s an area I’d like to stay in for a week or more. The caravan park looks very inviting; we stayed in a cabin but I’d like to take our caravan there and other places along the way. In the caravan park office I gathered together several free brochures on highlights of the area, including three on birding in the region. It has a very rich and interesting range of birds present.

One of the places mentioned on one pamphlet was the wetland area just off the main highway on the southern approach to the town. On our way out we spent about 20 minutes here but the bird life was not very forthcoming. It was very cold, overcast, threatening to rain and windy. The light was also very poor so I didn’t manage much in the way of bird photos. The list of birds was also rather poor:

Australian Raven
Little Pied Cormorant
Dusky Moorhen
Eurasian Coot
Australasian Grebe (see photo below)
Yellow Rosella
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Grey Fantail
Australian Magpie
Laughing Kookaburra
Rock Dove

Australasian Grebe, Narrandera wetlands, New South Wales

Magpie nesting time in our garden

Australian Magpie (male)

Over recent weeks we’ve been watching an Australian Magpie’s nest on our property (see photo below). This nest has been used by the same pair of birds over the last 4 or 5 years. Each year they just refurbish it a little before settling down to the important job of raising a family.

Last week we were working in the garden and watched with delight as the adult birds strutted around where we were working, looking for tasty morsels and then flying straight to the nest to feed the newly hatched young. Each visit resulted in excited squawks from the hungry young.

I was very surprised to find out a few days later that we actually had another nest with young magpies barely 50 metres from the other. To have two active magpie nests within such close proximity has never happened before on our property in the last 25 years. All I can surmise is that there has been a very drastic realignment of the local magpie territories over the last year.

And we are so pleased that none of them swoop us while they are nesting.

Australian Magpie nest

Australian Magpie (male)

That’s not a bird

Who is that hiding up there in the gutter?

Sydney Trip Report June 2011

We had a very comfortable cabin at the Lake Talbot Tourist Park, Narrandera, on our journey home. Next morning I found out that we’d had a free-loader – someone sleeping in the gutter of the roof outside (see photo above).  I gave him a gentle prod with a broom and found out that we’d had a Brush-tailed Possum sleeping just outside our cabin.

Brush-tailed Possum

Birding with the scouts

Galah, Swanport Wetlands, Murray Bridge

Two weeks ago I spent an enjoyable day speaking about local birds. About 130 Scouts from all over the state were camping locally, and on the Saturday they were allocated into groups of 7 – 10 for a variety of activities at the Swanport Wetlands on the eastern side of the River Murray near Murray Bridge. These included bird watching, making nesting boxes, taking water samples and so on.

I was the leader for the birding groups. Each birding activity took about 20 minutes, so there was a quick turnover of groups. Most of the children attending showed a pleasing interest in the bird life of the area and saw the relevance of making nesting boxes for the parrots and other species present. Nesting hollows are in short supply in the area, so that activity was also well appreciated. The simplicity of the nesting box construction has inspired me to make some for our own patch of scrubland.

While the day was a success, and the activities interesting and relevant, the weather was not. The previous day we’d had gale force winds and pelting rain. On the day of the activities the weather started out fine but deteriorated quickly as we got under way. Persistent drizzle can be annoying but the groups soldiered on; it seemed that the rain and cool conditions were taken in their stride as all part of the adventure.

Because of the conditions and several other factors, the birding on the day was not brilliant, and I was not able to get many photos. Overall I would regard it as a successful day, but I was very pleased to spend the evening in front of a warming fire.

Swanport Wetlands, Murray Bridge

Galah, Swanport Wetlands, Murray Bridge