An afternoon walk in Monarto Conservation Park
A few Saturdays ago I took my elderly mother-in-law on a short drive to Monarto Conservation Park. This park is about 20 minutes by car from our home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. The open range Monarto Zoo is just north of the park. This area is one of our favourite places to see native Australian plants.
The park preserves a large parcel of remnant mallee scrub between the lower reaches of the Murray River to the east, and the Mt Lofty Ranges to the west. The park has several mallee forms of eucalypt (eg Eucalyptus dumosa), native pines (Callitris preissii) and a variety of understory plants like correas, native orchids and a many others.
There is one established walking trail through the north eastern corner of the park starting and ending at the car park. This easy 45 minute walk takes the visitor through a range of plant habitats giving a good overview of the vegetation native to this area. When in flower in winter and spring this is a delightful walk with much to interest keen botanists.
In my experience of many visits to this park over the last three decades the birding can be fickle, largely dependent on what is flowering. Many of our honeyeater species, for example, are highly nomadic, moving quickly to areas of abundant food sources. On this recent visit the birding was rather poor.
The following list is a poor representation of the bird life present in this area:
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike: 5 seen, an unusually high number together
- Grey Currawong: several heard and one seen
- New Holland Honeyeater: often present in large numbers, perhaps only 4 or 5 seen this time.
- Red Wattlebird: one seen and several more heard calling
- Little Raven: heard calling from adjacent farmland
- Welcome Swallow: several seen swooping low over the treetops
- Adelaide Rosella: two disturbed from a tree as we walked along the path
- Australian Magpie: many seen in nearby farmland
- Weebill: a small flock heard nearby
As we were driving home via a different route we had fabulous views of two Wedge-tailed Eagles gliding low over the scrub in front of us. Nice end to a slow birding day.
This article was updated in July 2015.