A non-birding trip to Loxton
Yesterday we took a non-birding trip to Loxton, about a two hour journey from home. This is the town where I grew up and I still have quite a few relatives living there. The occasion was to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 70th birthday. We see each other so infrequently these days that we make a special effort to attend these family get togethers. An added bonus was seeing my niece and her daughter who came all the way from Perth, Western Australia, for the event. I see them only every two years or so.
The road to Loxton traverses mainly wheat and sheep farming country in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. Although the winter was drier than usual the country is not looking as poor as some parts of Australia suffering prolonged drought. I had a long talk to my wheat farmer nephew who was quite pleased with the yield this last season despite the poor rainfall.
We didn’t stop anywhere along the route to specifically watch birds, though we did have brief rest for a cuppa on the way. I didn’t make an extensive list as we drove along but merely noted some of the common species seen. Australian Magpies, both Black-backed and White-backed, were by far the most common bird seen. The roadside verges are also a favourite haunt of the numerous White-winged Choughs we saw.
I observed numerous Little Ravens feeding in the paddocks as we drove along, and on the return journey I am sure I saw an Australian Raven. I couldn’t be absolutely certain but it seemed much larger than the Little Ravens we have here in Murray Bridge. Small flocks of Galahs were also seen, either flying overhead or feeding on the grass in the fields. The occasional Common Bronzewing Pigeon was seen sitting on the side of the road.
Probably the highlight of the trip up to Loxton was seeing three Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring low over the road. This species is more often seen gliding many hundreds of metres above the ground; seeing them only a few metres above the treetops is always a delight. Another highlight was a brief glimpse of three Blue Bonnet Parrots flying across the road and scattering into the bushes on the other side of the road.
Another very common species along this route is the Crested Pigeon. It some places they outnumbered the magpies. On many occasions I saw ten to fifteen sitting in a loose flock on fencing wires or on power lines. As we commenced our journey home we saw a flock of ten sitting on the road just a few metres from the main street. They reluctantly few off as our car approached.
On our arrival in Loxton we were about a half hour early for the family lunch at one of the local clubs, so we detoured via the river front. There is a track running along the banks of the River Murray and this is a popular spot for people fishing, swimming, canoeing, skiing and having picnics. The bird life was relatively quiet but I did see plenty of Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks. I heard a Laughing Kookaburra and a Superb Blue Wren. Several small flocks of Red-rumped Parrots were seen flying and I think I heard several Yellow Rosellas. I saw a few Magpie Larks and two Australian Pelicans were swimming on the water.
We had a great time with family and seeing all these birds was a bonus.