At one stage while travelling along the south coast of Yorke Peninsula we pulled off the main road and drove down a rough dirt track towards the beach (see photo below). A solitary juvenile Pacific Gull was feeding on the sand. This species is found along coastal NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern Western Australia. While it is widespread it is not present in large numbers in most places. It is usual to see only one or two birds at a time.
The photo above shows the bird in the juvenile plumage which indicates a first year bird. For the next 3 years a variety of plumages stages can be seen, from the chocolate brown through to mottled brown and white until the full adult plumage is developed. Below I have included several photos of two birds in adult plumage at Victor Harbor earlier this year.
On our recent holiday on Yorke Peninsula we struck a weekend of wild weather. On Sunday morning the wind was blowing a gale and constant misty showers scudded across the sea and over the adjacent farmland. Undeterred we still went out for a drive knowing that this was the only way we would get to see anything. Walking was really not a pleasant option.
We stopped to have a cuppa at Sheoak Beach, parking the car so that we could sit in relative comfort out of the wind and rain – and yet be able to see the water and any birds on the beach. There was not much to see.
A few Australian Pelicans sheltered from the wind behind some seaweed tossed up on the beach (see photo below). A small flock of Crested Terns sat on the beach looking most uncomfortable in the atrocious conditions. Several Sooty Oystercatchers were hunched up against the wind too, and a few Silver Gulls valiantly tried to fly along the beach. A White-faced Heron also bravely battled against the wind.
As we drove off I opened the driver’s side window a little as it was on the leeward side. This was so I could add a few species I heard calling or saw as we drove along slowly. I saw several Singing Honeyeaters, Rock Doves and heard a Common Skylark calling out in a nearby field.
As you can see in the photos on this post, the conditions for photography were far from ideal, the misty rain making it impossible to get good shots.
Some birding days are like that.
On the third day of our recent holiday on Yorke Peninsula we decided to go for a drive along the south coast, despite the wild, cold wind and persistent drizzling rain. At first we drove to Sultana Point on the southern edge of Edithburgh. We’d been here several times some years ago to do a spot of fishing with family. This was not a day suitable for a casual stroll on the beach, or for beach fishing. The wind was strong enough to blow one out to sea.
We stopped for only a few minutes while I scanned the beach for birds, focussing in particular on an exposed sand bar just out a way from the water’s edge. About 20 Little Pied Cormorants were trying not to get blown away. Several Silver Gulls tried to fly along against the gale. Much further out to sea a solitary Australasian Gannet was diving repeatedly into the water, as is their habit. This was a good sighting because I’ve only seen this species on a handful of occasions. It was too hazy and too far off to attempt a photo. (You can see photos of this species here.)
As we left this area and drove through the collection of holiday houses at Sultana Point I also recorded Willie Wagtail, Singing Honeyeater, Common Blackbird and Spotted Turtledove. Not a big list but the conditions were very poor. You get days like that. It makes the good birding days even greater.
On our recent short holiday on the Yorke Peninsula here in South Australia we stopped to have lunch at Penguin Point near Marion Bay. I didn’t see any penguins; at this time of year they are probably all far out to sea feeding. In fact, I saw very few birds during our lunch break. The reason for this was the weather; it was blowing a gale.
While sitting in the car eating our lunch two Ospreys flew low overhead. This was a great sighting because I’ve rarely seen this species over the years. Seeing two at once was a bonus. They were using the strong wind to soar and hover over the nearby beach and rocky headland. They repeatedly did this so it was too good an opportunity to let slip.
Leaving my lunch I braved the fierce wind and cold conditions and ventured out with my camera. Now I must admit that I have not really mastered the art of photographing birds in flight. It’s a skill I must spend far more time on developing. This was a good opportunity to practise. One element quickly become an obvious hindrance: the wild, blustery conditions. It was hard enough trying to remain upright without worrying about getting the shot just right. So I basically just aimed and clicked, hoping for the best.
While the photos on this post will never win any great photo competition, at least you can identify the birds from them. I console myself with two thoughts:
- I now have some photos of this species.
- I can only get better.
While we were at Penguin Point at Marion Bay on Yorke Peninsula just over a week ago I braved the wild gale force winds and went for a short walk along the ridge top. As I was returning a green parrot landed on the well made path. It walked a few metres in front of me then stopped to chew on a flower on the edge of the path. I took a few photos and then attempted to get a little closer, but it flew off into the sand dunes and I didn’t see it again.
I’d seen over a dozens Rock Parrots in this spot on my last visit some years ago. The sight of so many together was unforgettable. This time I had to be content with a brief view of just one. The poor weather probably had something to do with only seeing one, so I considered myself lucky to have seen any at all.
Rock Parrots are one of a family of parrots known as Neophemas. The group also includes the Blue-winged Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Orange-bellied Parrot (endangered), Turquoise Parrot and Scarlet-chested Parrot. The Rock Parrot is generally a bird of coastal regions, its preferred habitat includes granite outcrops, islands, headlands, coastal dunes, scrubs and grasslands near the coast.