The Australian National Botanic Gardens contain an extensive collection of Australian native plants. When these are flowering they make a wonderful display in the bushland setting. Fortunately there is always something in flower whenever you visit.
On our last visit early this year we were delighted by the extensive array of Kangaroo Paws in flower. The one shown in the photo above is Anigozanthus flavidus. The Eastern Spinebill’s loved the flowers and came frequently to feed on the nectar in the flowers. Spinebills are members of the honeyeater family of birds in Australia.
Whenever my wife and I travel interstate we look for national parks and botanic gardens to visit. Both afford excellent opportunities for us to pursue our interests. My wife is interested in Australian native plants and flowers – she has a small nursery – and I am interested in the birds that frequent such places.
On our trip through the eastern states last Christmas and New Year we visited Canberra for a short while. Our main objective was to visit the National Gallery to see the special Degas art exhibition. As important was a brief visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. These gardens are possibly our favourite in all that we have visited so far.
We were able to spend about three hours wandering the gardens on this occasion, not nearly enough time, granted, but we were on a tight schedule. During our stay we were entertained by a jazz group playing a variety of pieces. This, we found out, was a part of their Summer Series of concerts on Sunday evenings. Daylight Saving is ideal for such events and it proved to be very popular with many hundreds of people coming in toÂ the gardens. Fortunately the music did not deter the birds, and I was able to compile a nice list and get some interesting photos.
With so many plants in the gardens, and many of them flowering, it is not surprising to find many honeyeaters present and active. The Red Wattlebird shown in the photo above was quite unafraid of me only a few metres away; they are obviously used to people.
Tolderol Game Reserve is something of a mecca for South Australian birders and often attracts interstate birders as well. I must admit that although it is only about an hour’s drive from Murray Bridge I have only been there a handful of occasions, and then only in the last few years.
Being a game reserve it has been set aside for shooters. The game shooting season in this state is restricted to only a few days annually, and on some years shooting is closed all year. In recent years this has been as a result of the extended drought we are experiencing.
Tolderol Game Reserve consists of a series of shallow ponds and connecting channels. Until recently there was usually water in the ponds at all times. At present there is very little water, even in the channels.
A wide variety of water birds can usually be found here: ducks, spoonbills, egrets, herons, ibis, swans, geese, grebes, darters, pelicans, dotterels, plovers, lapwings, crakes, rails, stilts and avocets.
Other species recorded include hawks, harriers, eagles, kites, terns, gulls, sandpipers, stints and other small wading birds.
The game reserve is next to the northern shore of Lake Alexandrina. On my last visit I didn’t take any photos of the reserve; without water and birds it was most uninteresting so I took the photo below of the lake. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling basin drains into this lake which in turn flows into the Coorong and the Southern Ocean.
Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park is one of the closest large parks of its kind near where I live. It is about 20 km south west of Murray Bridge and about 60 km south east of our state capital, Adelaide.
The park has easy access from two good dirt roads; one road bisects the park, the other follows the southern boundary. Update 2015: a new sealed road bisects the park in a north-south direction. There are several walking tracks through the interior of the park, including one established by the Friends Group a few years ago. There are no toilets or camping facilities within the park.
The park is predominantly mallee habitat. Many small native bushes flower in the spring time making it an attractive place for birds and a good place for birders to visit. I have recorded quite a variety of honeyeaters in the park, including
- Singing Honeyeater,
- White-plumed Honeyeater,
- Yellow-plumed Honeyeater,
- Purple-gaped Honeyeater,
- White-eared Honeyeater,
- Brown-headed Honeyeater and
- Red Wattlebirds.
Other birds I commonly see in the park include:
- Superb Fairy-wrens,
- Golden whistlers,
- Rufous whistlers
- Yellow-rumped thornbills,
- Bronzewing pigeons,
- Crested pigeon
- several kinds of robin and
- White-browed Babblers.
The parrots include:
- Purple-crowned lorikeets,
- Musk lorikeets
- Galahs and
- Mallee Ringnecks.
In all I have recorded over 60 different species.
This park is one of only a few local sites for the highly endangered species, the Mallee Fowl. I have only seen this bird once in the park but I have found several active nesting mounds (see photo above). For more information about this bird click on the link below or click here.
- Birds of Monarto Conservation Park – this park is about 5km north of Ferries McDonald CP
- What Kind of Duck was that? An amusing encounter with a Mallee Fowl
- Mallee Fowl – the Incubator Bird – lots of information about the Mallee Fowl and its habits, including its amazing nest.
This article was last updated in July 2015.
I love travelling so I can go birding in a new area. Last week I visited Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. This park is run by the National Parks and Wildlife of South Australia. It is a small part of the Cleland Conservation Park.
It has been quite a while since my last visit. In another life I had taken many groups of primary school children to this wonderful park. On quite a few of these occasions the visit was a part of a school camp at the nearby Woodhouse Scout Camp.
The beauty of this wildlife park is that one gets a very close up look at many of the birds and animals native to Australia. These include a range of different species, including kangaroo, wallaby, wombat, echidna, bandicoots, potoroos and bettongs. In one spot you can have your photo taken with a koala. A feature of my recent visit was the absolutely gorgeous four dingo pups. They were about four weeks old.
The main attraction of Cleland for me is the birdlife. The area is well wooded and so there are many native birds resident in and around the park. There are two walk through aviaries which enable one to get up close to many bird species. This is just great for photography. There is also a large wetlands area for all the water birds.
Over coming weeks I will feature some of the photos I took of the birds there. If you are impatient you might want to visit my
photo gallery (sorry this gallery has been removed). I took over 200 photos that day, so you will have plenty to look at!
This article was updated in August 2015.