Archive for the 'Pardalotes' Category

A visit to Monarto Conservation Park

Southern Scrub Robin, Monarto Conservation Park

Southern Scrub Robin, Monarto Conservation Park

A few months ago my wife and I paid a visit to the Monarto Conservation Park in South Australia. This park is south-east of Adelaide and south-west of Murray Bridge where we live. It is about a twenty-minute drive from home. The park is mainly mallee scrub but it contains a good range of small and medium-size native wildflowers, some of which I have shown in the photos below.

On the day we visited, I did not see or hear all that many birds. This is not unusual; some days are like that and very few are seen, while other days you don’t know where to look first – there are so many birds to watch. On this occasion, the only bird I managed a reasonable photo of is the Southern Scrub-robin shown in the photo above. I have found this species to be a somewhat shy bird that skulks in the undergrowth. I followed this individual for about five minutes before it disappeared from view. I could hear it – and others – calling from time to time, but none of them came out in the open to enable a better shot.

This park boasts a wide range of native Australian wildflowers. There always seems to be something flowering, so honeyeaters are common in the park. One can also expect to see, or hear, both types of Pardalote, several species of pigeons, parrots and lorikeets, as well as the elusive Shy Heathwren. Fairy-wrens are also common in the park, as are several species of birds of prey, usually seen soaring overhead. You can also see Australian Magpies, Grey Currawongs, Little Ravens, Grey Butcherbirds and several kinds of swallows.

Access to the park is via Ferries-McDonald Road, a sealed road off the South-eastern Freeway. There is a carpark on the right as you travel south. There are no facilities in or roads through the park, but there is a well-defined walking track starting at the carpark. This is an easy 45-minute walk through a variety of habitats in the north-eastern corner of the park. All of the photos featured today were taken along this walking track in early July of 2017.

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park – Holly Gravillea

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park – Sundews

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park - orchid

Wildflowers in Monarto Conservation Park – orchid

 

Birds in the heat

New Holland Honeyeaters at our bird bath

New Holland Honeyeaters at our bird bath

Here in South Australia we are experiencing our hottest summer on record. I won’t bore you with the details, but just say that we have had far too many days in the 40s (45C is equal to 113F). During such heatwaves – which can last for several days – our bird population suffers terribly. On these days the resident birds in our garden really appreciate the various bird baths we have placed in suitable locations.

Even on a warm day we get a constant parade of birds visiting the various bird baths in our garden. Our sun room overlooks several of them and this affords me an ideal location to take photos of them. Some birds still visit the water even on quite cold days – but we haven’t had many of those lately.

Probably the most common visitors would have to be the honeyeater species, including:

  • ¬†Red Wattlebirds,
  • White-plumed honeyeaters,
  • New Holland Honeyeaters,
  • Brown-headed Honeyeaters¬†
  • Singing Honeyeaters
  • Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters

Other regular visitors include:

  • Australian Magpies
  • White-winged Choughs
  • Grey Currawong
  • Australian Magpie Larks
  • Crested Pigeons
  • Spotted Turtledove
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Spotted Pardalote
  • Silvereyes
  • House Sparrow
  • Common Starling
  • Common Blackbird
White-plumed Honeyeater

White-plumed Honeyeater

Male House Sparrow at our bird bath

Male House Sparrow at our bird bath

 

Birding in Lowan Conservation Park

Lowan Conservation Park

Lowan Conservation Park

A few Sundays ago we had a break in our cold, wintry weather and we went for a drive to Lowan Conservation Park, a 40 minute drive north east from home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. The park is about 15 kilometres south east of Bowhill. I had visited this park on several previous occasions and found that the birding can be either a feast or a famine; it all depends largely on what is in flower, or the weather conditions.

The park is predominantly mallee woodland (see photos) with a mixture of other smaller scrubs and bushes. My wife has written about some of the plants on her site here.

On our most recent visit I didn’t even bother to take any photos; I saw no birds to photograph, well, none within range. And while we had our picnic afternoon tea in the sun I heard very little. It was a real struggle to get a short list of birds – mostly heard. (PS The photos on this post were taken on another visit.)

Bird list:

  • Little Raven
  • Mallee Ringneck
  • Grey Shrike-thrush
  • Weebill
  • White-winged Chough
  • Singing Honeyeater
  • Australian Magpie
  • Grey Butcherbird
  • Galah
  • Grey Fantail
  • Noisy Miner? (or Yellow-throated Miner? – I only heard them)
  • Striated Pardalote

That is not a great list, but there was not much flowering. In a park of some 660 hectares one would expect far more honeyeaters, but the mallee has to be in flower. Honeyeater species I would expect to see – or already have seen on other occasions – include: Striped, White-fronted, White-eared, White-plumed, Spiny-cheeked, Purple-gaped, Yellow-plumed, Brown-headed, New Holland and Red Wattlebird.

In addition to the honeyeaters I would expect to see more parrots, pigeons, wrens, thornbills, chats, woodswallows, robins (I did see one, but it flew off before I could get a positive ID), owls, nightjars, frogmouths, swallows, cuckoos, eagles, kites, falcons and even a Malleefowl or two. I have seen two Chestnut Quail-thrush there many years ago; I hope that they are still around.

I guess that the best time to visit would be in the spring, when there is a chance of more flowers. I think that it might be worth camping there overnight. By the way – there is only a rough, stony and sometimes sandy track through the park and NO facilities at all.

Trevor

Further reading:

 

Lowan Conservation Park

Lowan Conservation Park

Lowan Conservation Park

Lowan Conservation Park

Another close encounter

Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote

Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote

I had another close encounter with one of the resident birds in our home garden this morning.

I had just finished watching a long parade of birds coming to either drink from our bird baths, or to have an early morning splash before a warm day. The various visitors had quite depleted the water, so it was time to get a bucket of water from the rainwater tank and then clean and refill the bird baths.

After cleaning the containers I went to fill them up again with fresh water but was distracted by a little Spotted Pardalote coming in for a drink. It gradually approached closer and closer until it was about 50cm away from me. It watched me intently for about ten seconds, obviously waiting for me to refill the bird baths.

I love these close encounters. Pity I didn’t have my camera with me – the photo above was taken some time ago and also shows another regular visitor to our garden, a Silvereye.

Other species seen while having breakfast include:

  • Brown-headed honeyeaters
  • Red Wattlebirds
  • New Holland honeyeaters
  • Spotted Turtledove
  • Crested pigeon
  • Australian Magpie
  • House sparrow
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Yellow thornbill

It ain’t half hot

Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote

Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote

We love our bird baths.

We regard them as a good waste of time. The visiting birds bring us so much joy and entertainment. During the warm weather like we’ve been having this summer, I daily refill each bird bath before I have breakfast. This meal is usually eaten in our sun room – just a few metres from several of the bird baths.

During warm weather there is a constant stream of birds coming to drink and/or bathe. Almost every day there is something of note worth stopping to watch. On this occasion I had my camera ready. A Spotted Pardalote and a Silvereye drinking side by side is an unusual sight. They seem almost as if they are chatting about the hot weather – or perhaps even the vintage of the water!

Yesterday I wrote about the Silvereyes that visit our garden (click here to read). The Spotted Pardalote is another frequent visitor to the bird baths and I regard it as a resident breeding species on our 5 acre property. Hardly a day goes by without them visiting the bird bath – in fact, they seem to visit every few minutes during the hottest parts of the day.

The colours on the one shown in the photo above are particularly brilliant. It could mean that it is showing its full breeding plumage.