Archive for the 'Good Birding Sites' Category

Cruising Grey Teals, Laratinga Wetlands

Grey Teal, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

Grey Teal, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

A few days ago I featured a Pacific Black Duck I saw at the Laratinga Wetlands in Mt Barker.

Today it is the turn of another common species, the Grey Teal.

This great birding site is just over half an hour’s drive from my home in Murray Bridge here in South Australia. I don’t get to visit often enough. I know of birders who visit this place almost every day. The birding is usually very good with many opportunities for bird photography.

The ponds making up these wetlands have wide tracks along their edges and many locals and visitors use these tracks on a daily basis for walking, cycling and jogging. The adjacent picnic grounds are also very well set out and maintained.

On a recent visit I took these photos of some Grey Teal cruising along across one of the ponds. Many birders and photographers probably overlook this common species. It can be found in many parts of Australia wherever bodies of water exist.

I have seen lakes where there were thousands of these ducks. Just because they are common does not mean that they cannot be photographic. I like the photo above, but the one below is something special, in my opinion. The photo has only been cropped a little and has not been enhanced in any other way.

For more photos and further reading about the birds of Laratinga, click here.

Good birding.

Trevor

Grey Teal, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

Grey Teal, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

How’s the serenity?

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

How’s the serenity?

Most Australians will recognise that quote from the laconic Aussie movie “The Castle“.

It sure is a scene filled with serenity, early one frosty morning last week. The photos in today’s post were taken at the Laratinga Wetlands just east of Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills. A series of ponds make up this wonderful birding and picnic spot. While one could perhaps buy a lovely home overlooking this spot, or within a few minutes’ walk, I really have to burst your bubble or shatter your dream.

The ponds make up the local town’s sewage works!

In reality, it is far, far better than it sounds. First, there is no smell. None. Second, the environment has been wonderfully landscaped with Australian native trees, bushes and ground cover plants. Third, the local authorities have created a lawned picnic area complete with shelter sheds – it rains quite often in Mt Barker – and well kept, clean toilets. The tracks around each of the ponds are used daily by hundreds of locals and visitors like myself for photography, walking, cycling, running or just birding. The birdlife is always abundant and interesting.

The photo below shows just one of the many birds I saw there last week, a Eurasian Coot. The other photos below show one of the ponds shrouded in early morning misty fog.

Eurasian Coot, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

Eurasian Coot, Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Laratinga Wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Galahs at Laratinga Wetlands

Female Galah, Laratinga Wetlands

Female Galah, Laratinga Wetlands

Earlier in the week my wife had several appointments in Mt Barker which is about half way between home here in Murray Bridge and Adelaide. Her appointments were to take several hours, so took the opportunity to visit the Laratinga Wetlands on the eastern edge of Mt Barker.

The Laratinga Wetlands consist of a series of ponds which essentially deal with the town’s sewage and storm water. The treated water is later recycled into local agricultural use. The series of large ponds which make up the wetlands have been landscaped with both plants and lawns. A picnic area is provided for the public, including barbecues and toilets. Many local people and visitors use these facilities and the tracks around the ponds are popular with birders, walkers, runners, and cyclists.

Over coming days I will share some of the bird photos I took on my most recent visit. Today’s photos show a female Galah sunning itself on the trunk of one of the huge eucalypt trees surrounding the wetlands. I know that this one is a female because of the red eye. Meanwhile, I presume that the male is busy in the hollow below her, cleaning out the hollow and preparing it for nesting later in the season.

Further reading:

 

Female Galah with a male (?) in the hollow below

Female Galah with a male (?) in the hollow below

 

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater at Monarto CP

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater

A few days ago my wife and I took advantage of a lovely sunny winter’s day. We’ve had some very gloomy overcast weather in the last month or so, and some sunshine was an event to celebrate. We went for a drive to Monarto Conservation Park which is about a 15 minute drive from our home in Murray Bridge. Monarto CP is about 60km south east of Adelaide in South Australia.

Mind you, the sun may have been shining, and there were no clouds in the sky, and we were well rugged up, but the breeze was still chilly. Never mind, we packed the folding chairs, a Thermos of hot water, some tea bags and some biscuits for afternoon tea. We were prepared.

Before indulging in our treats we went on the walking trail through the park. This is an easy, almost level sandy track through several different habitats. Despite the recent poor weather we were delighted to see so many native plants in flower. I have included a few photos below. While my wife has a good working knowledge of our native birds, her main interest is in the native plants (you can read about her interest on her site here).

I have found over the years that birding in the Monarto Conservation Park can be rather hit or miss. Sometimes the birds can be singing and busily feeding and flying around. On other occasions the bird life can be quiet and inactive. Much of this is due to two main factors: weather conditions and what is flowering.

On this occasion there seemed to be a great deal of activity but, wouldn’t you know it – the birds were not showing themselves all that much. In fact, I only managed reasonable – certainly not brilliant – photos of one species: the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater as shown in the photo above. I should be pleased; the photos taken were the first I have managed of this species.

This honeyeater is a widespread species of southern Australia, from coastal NSW and Tasmania, much of Victoria, southern South Australia and south-western Western Australia. Its preferred habitats include mallee, heathlands, eucalyptus woodlands and street trees. It can easily be confused with the similar looking Crescent Honeyeater – which initially I did.

Further reading:

Bird list:

  • Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
  • Red Wattlebird
  • Mallee Ringneck parrot
  • Silvereye
  • Grey Shrike-thrush
  • Australian Magpie
  • Southern Scrub-robin
  • Grey Currawong
  • Weebill
  • Grey Fantail
  • New Holland Honeyeater
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater
  • Grey Butcherbird
  • Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
  • Little Raven
  • Willie Watail
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
  • Shy heathwren
Grevillea lavandulacea

Grevillea lavandulacea

Sundew

Sundew

IMG_9754

Mallee Fowl in the Murraylands region

Nearly 9 years ago I wrote the following article:

A few days ago I had a new comment on this post with an observation about the lack of Mallee Fowl in the park. Here is the comment:

I visited Ferries MacDonald CP on Tuesday 23 June and noticed that 1080 poison baits have been used to attempt to eradicate foxes. There were signs on the boundary fences warning dog owners. I did not see any mallee fowl despite spending several hours wandering through and around the park. I suspect there are none left unfortunately. I last visited the park thirty years ago and saw one there at that time as well as a few active nests. The park is not large and is surrounded by farmland. It may be too small to provide a suitable habitat for mallee fowl. I hope I am wrong. David.

The following was my reply:

As a result of your comments my wife and I briefly visited the park last Sunday. We actually spent more time in the nearby Monarto Conservation Park.

The poison baits programme has been ongoing for quite some time, probably years, and is a common practice in many parts of Australia. I have walked through both of these parks on numerous occasions over the last 30 years (I live in Murray Bridge) and have only ever seen Mallee Fowl on one occasion, two together on the side of the road near where the two roads intersect.

Last Sunday I checked on one of the Mallee fowl nest mounds that I have checked regularly since finding it some 10 years ago. It was active as recently as about 3 years ago, but sadly it now looks as if it hasn’t been used in at least the last two years, possibly longer. I know of at least 3 other mounds but I would be hard pressed to find them now. Extensive surveys of nesting sites have been conducted but I do not know when the last was done, nor the results.

On a related matter, national parks rangers were, I believe, removing eggs from the active nests, taking them to Monarto Zoo for hatching artificially and then returning the birds to the wild, including this park. Some birds were released with radio tracking devices and the failure rate was near to 100%, probably due to fox predation.

On a brighter note, a friend who lives less than a kilometre from the park saw a Mallee Fowl wandering through his garden only last year, so there is hope that some are surviving in this area. There are also regular reports of sightings east of the Murray River, and from the south east parts of the state.

Further reading: