Royal Spoonbill, Adelaide Zoo, South Australia
Royal Spoonbills are found throughout much of Australia where there is suitable habitat. They are absent from the drier inland areas and are rare in southern Western Australia. They are sometimes seen in the company of our other species of spoonbill, the Yellow-billed Spoonbill.
Their preferred habitat includes shallow waters, both coastal and inland, estuaries, edges of lakes, dams and wetlands, tidal mudflats and irrigated pastures. Their nest is a shallow platform of sticks, often over water and often in association with other waterbirds such as cormorants. During breeding the adults have a conspicuous plume of white feathers on the back of the head.
The photo above was taken in a walk through aviary at the Adelaide Zoo, South Australia.
Little Pied Cormorant, Adelaide Zoo, South Australia
Little Pied Cormorants are common throughout much of Australia, wherever there is suitable habitat. Their preferred habitats include coastal areas, islands, estuaries, rivers, lakes, farm dams, sewage ponds – in fact, almost anywhere there is water. We’ve even had one visit our swimming pool!
I can also remember being fascinated as a child by the occasional visit of a cormorant to our garden tank which was open at the top. My father installed this tank to store water for watering the vegetables because the mains water pressure on our farm was unreliable. Dad had also put a few small fish in the tank to eat any mosquito wrigglers, so I guess a visit was well worthwhile for a little snack. My father had a different opinion!
The birds shown in these photos were in a walk through aviary at the Adelaide Zoo. Below is one of the captive birds shown at a nest.
Last night I had a meeting at Wellington in South Australia, about a half hour drive south of home here in Murray Bridge. As we crossed the river on the ferry I commented to my friend who was driving about the number of Australian Pelicans swimming near the ferry. There must have been about 15 of them. I didn’t have my camera and it was almost dark anyway.
Last year I crossed the River Murray on the same ferry during the day and took the photos on this post – but didn’t share them at the time. This is an example of taking birding a little too casually. I thought the birds I had photographed were Little Black Cormorants. When I looked carefully at the photo above I realised that they were in fact Great Cormorants. Observe the yellow facial skin which is missing on the Little Black Cormorants.
Great Cormorants are considerably larger than the Little Blacks: 70-90cm compared with 60-65cm. Their ranges throughout Australia are very similar. Their preferred habitats are also very similar: coastal waters, rivers, lakes, dams, reservoirs, estuaries. Their nests are also very similar: large untidy collections of sticks, weeds and bark, often over and usually near water and often in large colonies. These colonies can also include spoonbills, herons and other species of cormorants.
Birds down by the river
A few days ago we had some business to do in the CBD of our home town, Murray Bridge. We decided to take the makings for morning tea with us. After dealing with the business side of things we headed down to the river and parked in the shade of tree near Sturt Reserve on the banks of the Murray River.
I was able to get a good list of birds while we had our cuppa. There was nothing spectacular of course, just the usual species I would expect.
Probably the most interesting bird seen was a Darter fishing quite close to the bank on our side of the river. Several Crested Pigeons came close to us investigating what we were up to. Three Willie Wagtails fluttered around and near the car. A beautiful Little Eagle soared on high and several Crested Terns patrolled the river looking for a feed.
In all I recorded 22 species, not bad for about forty minutes of birding.
The above photo shows the low level of the water in the Murray River at present. It is about 2 metres below its normal level and this is a direct result of the poor rainfall in the catchment areas in NSW and Victoria. Excessive use by irrigators in the eastern states is not helping the plight of this endangered river system either.
Lapwings and lunch by the lake at Lameroo
2007 New South Wales Trip Report #2
Lunch at Lameroo:
On quite a number of occasions we have pulled into a lovely park on the eastern edge of the mallee town of Lameroo for lunch or a cuppa. This park has a small artificial lake called Lake Roberts. This time we arrived in perfect time for lunch. As we drove through the town I saw Rock Doves flying around the wheat silos and House Sparrows near the houses.
As we drove into the park we observed two Masked Lapwings feeding on the grassed area. Later I saw a fluffy baby being closely guarded by the observant parents. A lone Willie Wagtail was feeding on the grass around the lake while a single Great Cormorant sat resting on the bank.
Welcome Swallows swooped over the lake as we ate our lunch. We tried to ignore the gathering company of non-Australian ducks at our feet; they were getting none of our lunch. They included a motley assembly of various domestic breeds of ducks; at least one of them was a male Mallard. I saw several Red Wattlebirds and heard a large flock of Weebills feeding in the tree near our picnic site. Several Australian Magpie Larks searched the waterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edge for their lunch and I heard a Grey Shrike-thrush and a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater off in the distance. A small flock of Galahs flew overhead as we left. A Singing Honeyeater perched atop a nearby tree and watched us as we packed things back in the car.
I tried to get a photo of a Black-backed Magpie, but the ducks chased it off before I could focus.
It was a lovely start to our holiday trip. More tomorrow.