Birding at Mannum South Australia
Over recent posts here I have written about a trip we went on after a visit to Adelaide for a medical appointment. We travelled home via Gorge Road, Gumeracha, Birdwood and on to Mannum for lunch. Mannum is about a half hour drive north of our home in Murray Bridge and is also situated on the banks of the Murray River.
After buying our lunch at the local bakery – excellent food, by the way – we drove the short distance to the other end of town, stopping at Lions Park on the wetlands area next to the local caravan park. This is a lagoon which is usually full of water from the adjacent main part of the river. On most occasions I find that this is quite a suitable birding area with a good variety of both water-birds and local bush birds.
As I wrote in my last post I had forgotten to bring my camera with on this trip, something I rarely forget. Consequently I had to be content with sightings using my binoculars and not get too excited about potential photos. It wasn’t long before I was really regretting my oversight regarding the camera.
As we ate our delicious lunch a colourful male and female Superb Fairy-wren came hopping across the grass only a few metres in front of our car. They would have provided me with some wonderful shots, but that was not to be.
A few moments later – as if to taunt me even further – an Australian Reedwarbler came out of the reeds nearby and it also began hopping around on the grass only metres in front of the car. Over the years I have struggled to get good shots of this bird. One hears them wherever there are reeds but one only ever catches glimpses of them scurrying from one patch to another. They don’t seem to want to stop and pose in full view and in good light so my camera can do its work. To see one hopping around in plain view was just taunting me. Never mind – I will return!
All in all it was a quite productive hour of birding. Here is a list of my sightings:
- Australian Reedwarbler
- Superb Fairy-wren
- Crested Pigeon
- House Sparrow
- Peaceful Dove
- Purple Swamphen
- Eurasian Coot
- Little Black Cormorant
- White-plumed Honeyeater
- New Holland Honeyeater
- Masked Lapwing
- Whistling Kite
- Australian Pelican
- Silver Gull
- Noisy Miner
- Pacific Black Duck
- Grey teal
- Red Wattlebird
- Australian Magpie
- Little Corella
- Welcome Swallow
- Little Grassbird
- Caspian Tern
- Little Raven
- Magpie Lark
- Willie Wagtail
- Striated Pardalote
- Black-tailed Native Hen
- Red-rumped Parrot
I must go back again some time soon – and try to remember my camera.
Where’s my camera?
Last Friday my wife had a medical appointment in Adelaide. It was an early morning appointment which meant that we had most of the day to do other things. Instead of taking the quick way home via the south eastern freeway we took a far more interesting route home. We drove up through the Adelaide Hills (part of the Mt Lofty Ranges) via Gorge Road. Along the way we stopped for an extended cup of tea and delicious scones at the Big Rocking Horse at Gumeracha.
I was about to grab my camera to take some photos of the world’s largest rocking horse and some of the local bird life when I realised I had left my camera at home. I had remembered my note book and a pen to record what I saw, I had remembered my binoculars and a field guide resides permanently in the car so I don’t have to remember it. But no camera. Doh.
Oh well, I just had to be content with doing some birding via the naked eye. (Can one say “naked eye” when I do have the assistance of glasses?) Still, birding without either a camera or binoculars is good for honing one’s observation skills. I had also left the binoculars in the car while we sat in the warm restaurant having morning tea. The large picture windows make viewing the nearby landscape extremely easy and delightful.
So, without the help of any visual aids I managed to following list of birds:
- Common Blackbird
- New Holland Honeyeater
- Little Raven
- Crimson Rosella (Adelaide Rosella)
- White Ibis
- Rainbow Lorikeet
- Australian Magpie
- Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
- Australian Wood Duck
That’s not a great list but the conditions were difficult for the following reasons:
- It was very cold and not many birds were active
- The weather was heavily overcast and gloomy
- The scones were delicious and needed my full attention
- My wife an I were in deep conversation for over an hour discussing an important life decision I need to make shortly.
Watch out darter
Yesterday I took my wife on a drive through the countryside here in South Australia. We had been to Adelaide for an early morning medical appointment so we decided to take an alternative route home and have lunch at Mannum which is a half hour drive north of our home in Murray Bridge. We drove from Burnside to Gumeracha via the Gorge Road, following the picturesque Torrens River Valley.
We stopped at the Big Rocking Horse at Gumeracha for a cup of tea and some lovely freshly baked scones. After our sojourn there we continued on through Birdwood and Tungkillo, heading for Mannum and lunch.
As we were coming down the hill into the small township of Palmer I suddenly had to brake and swerve to miss an Australian Darter sitting in the middle of the lane we were travelling in. I was also conscious of the car close behind me as well. Both of us missed the bird and on checking the rear view mirror I was relieved to see the bird flying off.
Darters are usually seen in or very near water. What on earth was it doing sitting in the middle of a road? This was about 16 km (10 miles) west of the river, but I know there are storage dams on nearby farms in this district. It’s just that I’ve never seen one on a road before.
Of course I didn’t have time to take a photo and there was no safe stopping area either. Besides, this was the first trip I had taken in many years where I totally forgot to take my camera.
The photo above was taken several years ago on the banks of the Murray River which flows through my home town of Murray Bridge in South Australia.
Two interesting birding blogs
It has been a while since I last featured other birding blogs here on my site. With all the writing I do, and other pressing responsibilities that life hurls at me from time to time, I don’t get nearly enough time to read many other sites about birds.
I hope to correct that oversight in coming weeks. Today I am going to feature two contrasting yet wonderful blogs, one about wildlife in general and the other specifically about birds and as a bonus, an article about bird photography.
Naturally South Australia features the ‘fascinating wild places and animals that define South Australia.’ Written and photographed by South Australian teacher and author Barry Silkstone, this blog highlights many of the things I love about my state. Of course he features many bird photos on a regular basis, and as a bonus you get photos of our animals as well. As a further bonus he writes about and photographs many of the places that make South Australia such a wonderful holiday destination, as well as a great place to live.
On the other hand Lirra Lirra: the magical mystery of birds is something else again. The author features only birds with photographs of the highest quality. Just the few featured on one recent post about Fairy-wrens made me almost weep for joy and total admiration – no, I am in awe. This site sent me scurrying to first check my bank balance, and then some camera shop sites. I thought some of my photos were rather good – until I saw this site. I really need to upgrade my camera equipment. Seriously upgrade. Sigh.
And while I am on the topic of bird photography, a few days ago I came across this article called 10 Tips for Photographing Birds. It includes some great ideas and hints on taking great shots of our wonderful birdlife.
Good birding – happy photography.
Colombian hummingbird rediscovered
Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus)
I don’t feature non-Australian birds very often on this site and I should correct this oversight. I have in the past shown birds photographed in Nepal, Thailand, Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain. (You can search for these using the search facility above.)
For two reasons I would love to go birding in Colombia, South America. First, it boasts the world’s largest list of bird species as well as the largest list of endemic species – that is, birds only found there and nowhere else. Second, I would love to visit the city of Cali, the birthplace of my two grandchildren.
News has come in recently of the rediscovery of a species of hummingbird, the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus) which had been thought to be extinct. The last sighting was as long ago as 1946. It must have been an exciting moment for the birders who made the discovery. To then manage to get the first ever photograph of the species must made the discovery even sweeter.
On the downside, the area in the Santa Marta mountains in Colombia where the birds were seen is under severe threat from clearing and burning by local farmers. I hope that provisions can be made to preserve both the birds and the environment on which they rely for their existence.
I can’t show the photo of the bird here for copyright reasons, so go to the link below. This will also take you to an interesting article about the bird’s rediscovery.