A few weeks ago I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about a 20 minute drive north of home. The Murray River and its environment are the dominant feature of this town, an old paddle steamer port in the 1800s. I went for a walk along a walking trail on the riverside opposite the town. The trail starts just south of the ferry crossing.
I was delighted with the birding on that fine, pleasant spring day. One of the best species I saw was the Superb Fairy-wren. This stunning bird is always a good sighting and that can come up quite close in picnic areas. This family was just a little wary and it took quite a while and some patience to get several good shots of the male in all his colouful splendour.
Yesterday I wrote about stopping at a roadside rest area on the highway between Tintinara and Coonalpyn in the SE of South Australia.
While I was watching the various birds come to the small puddle of water that had formed, a family of Superb Fairy-wrens also came to have a drink. Most of this group were females or uncoloured males (see photos). I did see one partly coloured male; he must have been moving towards having his full breeding plumage and looked quite bedraggled. He also wouldn’t pose nicely for a photo.
Below I’ve included a photo of a fully coloured male taken last year on the south coast of NSW.
Last Friday I was able to do some birding near Geranium in the mallee district east of home here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. I pulled off the main highway on to a side track (see photo below) and found a good spot for lunch. I’d been on this bush track many times before and knew that the birding can be quite good in this quiet spot.
While I was eating lunch I had good views of a male Superb Fairy-wren nearby. Just as I finished lunch I could hear a group of Australian Magpies carolling about 40 metres away. This singing increased in volume to the point where I just had to check it out. I estimate there were about 20 magpies in the one tree, all calling loudly. Their song filled the air all around. I then glanced over into the paddock adjacent to the tree. There were magpies everywhere.
A quick scan of the paddock with my binoculars revealed about another 60 magpies feeding in the grass. I’ve never seen such a large congregation of Australian Magpies anywhere before. There are records in the literature of large loose flocks of over 100 birds, but this was my first encounter with such large numbers. Truly spectacular.
One of the frustrations I felt on our holiday in New South Wales earlier this year was the lack of time to do some serious birding as we went along. We were on a tight time schedule because our daughter had to return home to go to work. It was great spending three weeks with our adult daughter, but the birding was limited. Despite that I did get to see a good list of birds and I also found some excellent spots to return to later when we are less rushed.
We travelled down the south coast of New South Wales from Bateman’s Bay to Mallacoota in Victoria. On the way we passed through the beautiful towns of Narooma, Bermagui, and Merimbula, all worthy of a stay for a week, not just a quick drive through.
Upon reaching the port of Eden we did stop for about a half hour. We found a picnic area with a great view out over the beach and bay, as shown in the photos on this page.
From our picnic spot we saw Silver Gulls and Whiskered Terns flying along the beach or just out a short way into the bay. A small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over head heading for the nearby coastal forest. Red Wattlebirds and Silvereyes were feeding in the bushes near our picnic spot and a family of cheeky Superb Fairy-wrens came close enough for a few good photos. The full coloured male came up close and posed for me.
On the way through the town I was able to add Galah, House Sparrow and Rock Dove to my list. This area is well worth another, longer, visit sometime in the near future.