A few weeks ago my daughter suggested that we visit the Monarto Zoo. It had been about a year since my last visit which is rather poor of me because it is only a ten-minute drive from my home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. And I am a member so I can enter whenever I please at no cost. Monarto Zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoo which I also must visit again soon.
Before we went on the guided bus tour of the open range zoo we decided to buy our lunch from the cafe in the Visitor Centre. We found a suitable table overlooking the garden and before we had even started eating, one of the local Little Ravens came to join us. Just like many species of birds, this Raven had learned that people are often associated with food. It certainly was not shy and landed on the railing right next to our table. I could have reached out and touched it. I am not normally in favour of feeding our native birds, but my daughter has no such reservations. Nor did the Raven – it gratefully took the food handed out and flew off to a nearby mallee tree to consume the handout. It returned several times, both to our table and to the tables of other zoo visitors.
During our lunch, we were also visited by several Magpie-larks, another common species in this area. While they came close to our table, they never ventured as close as the Raven. I managed a good photo of the female while it was perched on the glass fence of the nearby Meerkat enclosure.
Monarto Zoo has a wonderful collection of the adorable Meerkats on display. With their enclosures having glass surrounds, everyone can get excellent views of these wonderful creatures. I have included a photo below. I have also included a photo of the beautiful Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby which is native to the Flinders Ranges in the northern parts of South Australia.
In recent posts here I have written about our visit to the Capertee Valley last year. You can read about this visit by clicking on the links in the “related reading” section below.
In my last post, I highlighted the birds I saw in and near the small village of Glen Alice. We had afternoon tea there and this gave me the opportunity to do some birding. As we were driving through the town, we went past the local primary school. I was really taken by the school emblem or crest on their notice board, and I actually backed up the car and took a photo of it. Not many schools feature a bird as their school emblem. Good for them.
The sign also informs the community that the children were going on a camp-over ‘Zoo Snooze’ on the following two days. This was probably at the Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo. The zoo is just over 200km to the north-west and it often caters for overnight stays by school groups.
The fact remains that this valley is one of the strongholds of the Regent Honeyeater, one of our most threatened species of birds here in Australia. This interesting honeyeater is found throughout the Capertee Valley where suitable habitat exists. Sadly, much of its natural habitat has been cleared for farming over the years. Its natural range extends from south-east Queensland, through eastern New South Wales and into north-eastern Victoria. Nowhere is it common and conservation efforts have a focus on preserving this species and increasing its preferred habitat through revegetation programmes.
During our time in the Capertee Valley, I was not fortunate enough to see a Regent Honeyeater. In fact, I am sure that it is one species I have yet to see in the natural environment. The photos above and below were taken in a walk-through aviary in the Cleland Wildlife Park near Adelaide. This park is one of several zoos attempting to breed populations of this species, some of which have been released back into the wild.
- Glen Alice in Capertee Valley
- My first birding visit to Capertee Valley
- Threatened birds of Australia – Regent Honeyeater
- Capertee birder – an amazing collection of articles about the birds of the valley and sound files of some of the birds.
Quaint old church
Near where we stopped to have afternoon tea, there was an old historic church, opened in about 1874. It sat comfortably in amongst the gum trees in a typically Australian bush setting. If I had been involved in building the church, I might have insisted that the windows be made much bigger. In that way, I would have been able to admire God’s amazing creation just outside. Knowing my tendency to get excited about birds, it might have also been a big distraction from what was occurring inside the building, or what was being said. Sigh. (I have been known to actually make lists of birds seen through a church window while the service is in progress.)
The little sign leaning against the wall facing my camera reads “Glen Alice Union Church.” Below the photo of the church, I have included a photo of the sign just inside the fence. I am annoyed that I didn’t capture the whole sign which gives a little of the history of the area.
Over the last few weeks I have been sharing photos of some of the birds I saw while visiting the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW. On another occasion I commented that all of the birds seen in the zoo are actually birds that are free and not part of the exhibits. I also commented that many of these birds have adapted to the feeding times of the various animals – a free feed, so to speak.
The Purple Swamphen (see photo below) is one such bird. It was skulking around, perched on a flimsy branch of a tree, waiting for the Ring-tailed Lemurs (see photo above) to finish eating their dinner.
Over recent days I have written about and showed photos of the various birds seen on a visit to the Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo, NSW. All of these birds were actually naturally occurring species; none of them were a part of the actual species on display. The wild birds knew how to benefit from the facilities – like the artificial lake near the visitor centre shown above. They also are quick to feed on any unused food put out for the animals.
Today’s post features to Hardhead – also known as the White-eyed Duck. It is found throughout much of Australia in suitable habitat, such as lakes, swamps, large bodies of water, ornamental lakes and even brackish coastal swamps. It is rare in the drier parts of the interior. Although I have only see this species in small numbers, the field guides suggest that it is occasionally seen in large groups numbering in the thousands. It is often dispersive, moving to areas after good rain.
- White-eyed Duck or Hardhead – together with some comments on the possible origins of the name.
One of the things I noticed on our visit to the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo was the number of honeyeaters. The zoo enclosures and the road visitors take on their tour feature many local plants, especially eucalypts. A good number of these are flowering at any one time and this attracts the nectivorous birds such as honeyeaters.
One of the honeyeater species which came up close and personal was the Yellow-throated Miner. One of them is featured in today’s photos. We treated ourselves to an ice-cream from the visitor centre and sat in the picnic area nearby to enjoy our treat. This miner came up really close, checking out if we had any morsels to share with it. The close proximity of the bird made photography easy.
Yellow-throated Miners are found over much of Australia except for the wetter eastern and southern coastal regions and Tasmania. A similar species is the Noisy Miner.
- Time for a sweet break – another photo of a Miner at the zoo
- Noisy Miner Murray Bridge
- Great birding moments
- Miners v Mynas