Over the last few days I have been sharing some of the photos I took several weeks ago when I took time out from my busy schedule to do some birding. Despite being a chilly winter’s day, the conditions were quite acceptable and it was good to feel some sunshine after all the dull wet weather we’ve had so far this year.
One of the birds I enjoy seeing most times along the Murray River here in Murray Bridge is the Darter, shown in the photos below. One has to be quick to see this species in the water when it’s fishing. It dives quickly and often stays under water for a considerable length of time. After every period of feeding, every Darter and every cormorant needs to find a suitable perch and “hang out the washing”, that is, they need to dry their wings before they become waterlogged and drown.
I was able to approach this individual to within five metres as it perched there. Interestingly, this one appears to be an immature female, going by the plumage.
A few weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about 20 minutes drive north of home. It was a beautiful spring day with bright clear sky, a gentle breeze and plenty of birds. I sat for a while in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river front, watching and photographing the birds on, over and near the Murray River.
I was rather puzzled by the behaviour of several species of birds in and over the water. Several Little Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants were swimming around in the one spot about 30 metres out into the water. I can only assume they were fishing but I didn’t actually see one catch a fish. Over head several White-necked Herons and one Great Egret flew around low over the water sometimes almost landing and snapping at the cormorants in the water. A Silver Gull even joined in, harassing the heron as they flew (see photo below).
The White-necked Heron was an interesting sighting for me. It’s been one of my bogey birds over the last 25 years. I went from 1987 to 2001 without seeing a single one of them. Then only one – with another 6 year wait to see another one! Unbelievable. In fact in more than 35 years of birding I’ve only ever seen this species about 20 times. Then on this day at Mannum I saw 4 all flying around in close proximity. Unreal.
Sydney Trip June 2011
On our journey home from visiting family in Sydney earlier this year we stopped for a lunch break at Balranald in far western NSW. After a few minutes in the local tourist information centre we drove down to the picnic area on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River (see photo below). While having lunch I made a modest list of birds seen and managed several interesting photos.
The Darter (shown above) was drying its wings after swimming in the river. This species is widespread along our waterways in Australia without being in large numbers anywhere. White-faced Herons, like the one shown below, are both widespread and common. This one looked like it wasn’t enjoying the cold weather. It seemed to be huddling up and trying to warm up in the weak sunshine.
Birds sometimes do amusing things. Take this Little Pied Cormorant shown in the photo above. Some would think he has a very neat hairdo. Others might think he’s having a very bad feather day. I think he’s just been for a swim trying to catch his lunch and hasn’t time to rearrange his feathers.
What you can’t see in this photo is the zoo keeper throwing the water birds, the cormorant included, some small fish for their mid-afternoon snack. Below is a photo of him earlier – when his coiffure was just a little neater.