Birds of Monarto Zoological Park, Murray Bridge
Yesterday I wrote about the birds contained in the collection of the Adelaide Zoo. The birds of Monarto Zoological Park are a totally different matter. This park is of the open range type of zoo – in fact, it is a park – not a zoo in the traditional sense. It is a place we visit often, for two reasons. It is only a few kilometres – about a ten minute drive – from our home. Secondly, I am a Life Member – so it only costs me the petrol to get in.
Upon entering the grounds of the zoo at Monarto, one has to drive several kilometres to the car park next to the Visitor Centre. This facility contains an information centre, shop and a wonderful restaurant. From here one is able to go for guided walks through the mallee scrubland that forms a very important part of the local habitat. Some of this scrubland is old growth mallee, something that is quite rare in these parts.
Most visitors to Monarto Zoo book into one of the Bus Tours of the park. Each tour has a volunteer guide on board. Each specially trained guide is a mine of information about the birds and animals of the park. The tours usually take about an hour and they take one through different “habitats” of the park with great views of the animals up close. For example, one gets excellent views of giraffe, zebra, lions, cheetah, painted dogs and a range of other animals from around the world.
Birds of Monarto Zoo
Adelaide Zoo’s strength is in its vast collection of birds in aviaries. Monarto Zoo is quite different. There is a small enclosure with some Mallee Fowl in it. This is part of their breeding programme for this endangered species. They also have a large enclosure some several hectares in size for their ostriches. All other birds are free ranging, that is, they are part of the natural environment. Watching for birds while on the guided walks or the bus tour is therefore very rewarding; one never knows what one is going to see.
My Bird List
The most obvious bird in the park is the Emu. One is easily able to get good views of this species in many parts of the zoo. Australian Magpies, Galahs, Little Ravens, Masked Lapwings and Red Wattlebirds and Welcome Swallows are also very common. Along the watercourses (which often dry up in summer) I have seen Pacific Black Duck, Black Fronted Dotterels and Magpie Larks.
In the mallee scrubland it is easy to see Singing Honeyeaters, White Plumed Honeyeaters, Spiney Cheeked Honeyeaters, Crested Pigeons, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Grey Shrike Thrush, Willie Wagtails and Yellow Rumped Thornbills. Striated and Yellow Rumped Pardalotes can been heard calling from the trees all around. On several occasions I have even recorded Flame Robins and Peaceful Doves. Common Bronzewing Pigeons can also been seen and families of White Winged Choughs and White Browed Babblers are very conspicuous.
I’ve already mentioned the most common parrot in the park, the Galah. Other species present include Purple Crowned Lorikeets, Red Rumped Parrot and Mallee Ringnecks. Adelaide Rosellas, Cockateil and Budgerigars do occur in the district but I haven’t personally recorded them inside the park boundaries. The same could be said of Elegant Parrots, a species I have seen only a few kilometres south of the park.
Birds of Prey
The only bird of prey I have recorded is the Brown Falcon. It is quite possible to see many other species that are common in the district. These include Wedge Tailed Eagles, Black Shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestral, Australian Hobby, Black Kite, Little Eagle, Spotted Harrier, Brown Goshawk and Collared Sparrowhawk. Barn Owls, Boobook Owls and Tawny Frogmouths are all present nearby and probably occur in the park too.
This is just a sample of what can be seen within the boundaries of the park. A full list would probably reach a hundred or more different species. Some, like the Rainbow Bee-eater, are seasonal (summer) visitors while others are occasional visitors.