Favourite Birding Spot #2 Swanport Reserve
This is the second in a series of articles I plan to post about my favourite birding spots. The first article can be read here.
This reserve is about 5km south of the Murray Bridge CBD in rural South Australia. The local council has set aside this reserve on the banks of the Murray River as a picnic area. The area is about two acres in size and is mainly lawn with a scattering of River Red Gums and a few other trees, making it a lovely shady place in the summer. There is a safe swimming beach approximately 60 metres in length. A part of the beach is set aside for fishing.
Over the years this reserve has become one of our favourite picnic destinations; it is only a ten-minute easy drive from home. I have lost count of the number of times we have taken fish and chips or chicken and chips there for a picnic lunch or tea. And as always, the thermos and tea bags are always handy too. Sitting in a picnic chair watching the river traffic go by has to be one of the more relaxing ways of spending a few hours on a lovely day or a summer’s evening. What is more, the bird life rarely disappoints.
The Birds of Swanport Reserve
Over the years I have recorded 72 species of birds on my visits to the reserve. Naturally, the waterbirds are well represented. This includes four species of cormorants, the Little Pied being the most common. One almost always sees several Australian Pelicans, Straw-Necked and White Ibis, and several White-faced Herons. Of the ducks, the most common would be the Pacific Black Duck and the Australian Wood Duck though I have seen both Mallards and Grey Teal.
Interestingly, I have only once observed a single Great Crested Grebe at Swanport and never the Hoary Headed nor the Australasian Grebe, both common species in this area. The Great Crested is not regularly seen in this part of SA.
Almost always one is able to see the Eurasian Coot swimming near the bank and Purple Swamphens skulking along on their long legs. Dusky Moorhens are also seen from time to time, trailing a string of little ones paddling furiously trying to keep up with mum and dad. Black-tailed Native Hens come and go, sometimes there are dozens of them but often none at all. Once I saw a Black-fronted Dotterel, another species widespread but not numerous in this area.
Gulls and Terns
Silver Gulls are always flying past, sometimes in loose flocks of two or three up to several dozen. Single Caspian Terns regularly patrol up and down the river, as do Crested Terns and Whiskered Terns.
Whistling Kites, Little Eagles and Black Kites are almost always present and regularly breed in the taller trees along the river banks. The Whistling Kites mournful calls can be heard as they patrol to river banks and nearby dairy farm swamps and wetlands. Swamp Harriers and Spotted Harriers also occur here as does the small Black-shouldered Kite.
There is a huge population of feral pigeons (Rock Doves) along the river. They seem to nest and breed prolifically underneath the three bridges which cross the river at Murray Bridge. They are also a pest in many of the town’s buildings and they also utilise the hollows in some of the old-growth eucalypts along the river. Flocks of 20-100 can be seen flying along the river at any time of the day. More pleasant at Swanport are the Peaceful Doves, their cooing on a still summer’s day adding to the atmosphere of relaxation. Crested Pigeons are plentiful as are the introduced Spotted Turtle-Doves.
Flocks of 100s of Little Corellas and Galahs are often seen along the river it this area. The noisy and gregarious Corellas can undo the peacefulness of the reserve as they fly overhead. Other parrots include Red-rumped Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets and Purple-Crowned Lorikeets and I once recorded two Yellow Rosellas. This sub-species of the Crimson Rosella is normally found much further upstream; my record seems to be one of those occasional odd sightings.
Red Wattlebirds and White-plumed Honeyeaters are common in and around the reserve. New Holland Honeyeaters and Singing Honeyeaters are also present and Noisy Miners (see photo above) are everywhere.
There are many more species to see at Swanport Reserve. 100s of Welcome Swallows swoop low over the river. Australian Magpies and Magpie Larks patrol the lawns looking for a feed. Willie wagtails and Superb Fairy-wrens are always present and Australian Reed-Warblers can be heard in the reeds lining the river bank. Both the Laughing Kookaburra and the Sacred Kingfisher are resident species.
This reserve is at the historic settlement of Swanport. In all of my visits, I have only ever once seen a Black Swan there! They are much more common further upstream at another wetlands area.
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Post updated on 30th May, 2017.