Ramsey Way Conservation Park, Yorke Peninsula
On our way to Edithburgh for a short holiday last week we took a short detour on a side road a short distance off the main highway. This dirt road took us through some farming country and passed the small Ramsey Way Conservation Park (see photos above and below).
I’ve done a little research online and can find only two references to this park: the government declaration of the park concerning mining restrictions (2008) and notice of a field trip visit by the Native Orchid Society of South Australia next Sunday (June 5th 2011). It is not even listed yet on the National Parks website list of conservation parks. Now that I know that I would have spent a little more time there doing a bird and plant survey. Still, it was late afternoon and the light was fading quickly, so it would have been an inadequate survey.
I’m sure that a longer survey of the park would reveal a diverse and interesting bird and plant list. This park is one of only a few remnant bush areas in the region and so is a valuable asset regarding the local flora and fauna. My list seems very inadequate, but given the time restraints it is a start:
- Little raven
- White-browed babbler
- Magpie lark
- Australian Magpie
- Willie wagtail
- Yellow-rumped pardalote
- Spiny-cheeked honeyeater
- Grey butcherbird
- Crested pigeon
- Common Bronzewing pigeon
- Red-rumped parrot
- Nankeen kestrel
Roadside birding, Yorke Peninsula
After leaving Mulbura Park reserve near Pt Vincent on the Yorke Peninsula we drove on along a dirt road towards a nearby conservation park. I’ll write about that visit tomorrow. At one point my wife asked me to stop to take a photo of the native apricot trees growing on the side of the road.
The native apricot (Pittosporum phylliraeoides) is a widespread tree throughout South Australia but in most areas is not present in large numbers. The road we were on was an exception with many such trees on the roadside verge. Most were in fruit and the bright orange fruit looked spectacular in the late afternoon sun. Every time I see the fruit I’m reminded of that terrible day when I had a brain snap – I tried to eat the fruit. The juice squirted down my throat and I spent the next half hour coughing and spitting trying to rid myself of the astrigent, bitter taste. Don’t try it – the fruit is not edible, I assure you. In fact, a little research has found at least one reference to the seeds being poisonous.
I can’t recall ever seeing any birds eating the fruit, though the flowers do attract a range of nectar loving birds such as honeyeaters. The trees also provide suitable nesting and shelter for a range of species. The birds observed within a short distance of this clump of trees include:
- White-browed Babblers
- Willie Wagtail
- Crested pigeons
- Spiny-cheeked honeyeater
- Yellow-rumped Pardalotes
Mind you, we only stopped for a few minutes before driving on, so the list of birds frequenting these trees would be much larger.
Mulbura Park, Yorke Peninsula
On our holiday to Yorke Peninsula last week we took a short detour off the main road. We always seem to be doing this. It gives my wife a chance to look at the local flora (see her site about plants here) and it gives me more opportunities to go birding, and perhaps get some photos. As an aside, when our children were young they would always make sure they had at least one book to read whenever we went for a drive.
Near Pt Vincent on the east coast of the peninsula there is a small plant reserve we had visited many years ago. We couldn’t even remember many of the details of what was there, and we had the time to check it out. Mulbura Park – we’d even forgotten the name – is a remnant block of native plants set aside as an example of the vegetation of the area. This part of the peninsula has very little in the way of bushland like this, so it is rather precious – and a good habitat for the local fauna, including birds.
We didn’t wander far into the reserve but near the entrance gate we saw a good variety of local vegetation present in this area, including casuarina, goodenias, dampiera, daisies, pea bushes, pimelia and correas.
Being mid afternoon – and quite windy – the birds were not very forthcoming. When various plants were in flower, and when conditions are right, and when one had a few hours to wander right through the patch of scrub, I’d anticipate seeing at least 30 or more species here. Not so on our short 15 minute visit. I did record Singing Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Australian Magpie and Little Raven.
The highlight however was hearing a Crested Bellbird, always a nice species to record. It was some distance off and I couldn’t get close enough for a photo. Some other time I’ll capture this species on my camera.
Other species I’d expect to see here include Galah, Blue Bonnet, Mulga and Red Rumped parrots, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Weebills, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite, Bronzewing pigeons, Crested Pigeon, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, White-browed Babblers, Grey Shrike-thrush, several species of cuckoos, owls and nightjars and even perhaps Variegated Fairy-wrens.
Birding on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Over the last weekend my wife and I had a short four day holiday on Yorke Peninsula. We stayed in a holiday unit at Edithburgh, about a four hour drive from our home. Edithburgh is a small town near the bottom of the peninsula, directly opposite Adelaide which is on the other side of Gulf St Vincent.
It has been far too many years since our last visit. The peninsula offers some interesting birding with mixed farming covering most of the region, mainly wheat and sheep. There are also remnant mallee scrub areas, particularly in the south and of course the long coast line offers good birding opportunities where there is access to the beaches. One major goal was to spend time in Innes National Park on the southern tip of the peninsula.
On this visit I didn’t anticipate making a long list of birds seen. Many of the migratory seabirds have long since flown to warmer parts in the northern hemisphere. In another blow, the weather forecast was far from promising good birding; gale force winds and rain. Still, we had a booking in one of the many holiday units and we were looking for a relaxing break regardless of what was thrown at us.
I didn’t see any of my target birds: Mallefowl, Western Whipbird and Hooded Plover, but I still managed some great birds, including Crested Bellbird, Blue Bonnet parrot, Rock Parrot and great views of Ospreys.
Over the coming days I will share some of my sightings, along with the usual photographs.
Australasian Pipit, Hay Plains, New South Wales
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
When we travel to Sydney to stay with family we usually have to drive over the Hay Plains. This very flat region is in western New South Wales. I guess most people find this drive boring and try to complete this leg of the journey as quickly as speed limits allow. The road is very good and you can maintain 110kph for several hours without having to slow down – unless you get behind a slow moving car towing a caravan.
My wife and I don’t find this drive at all boring. In fact I look forward to it. The region has very few trees; the photo above is a typical view. Trees are usually only found around the few farmhouses and along water courses. The Murrumbidgee River to the north and the Murray River to the south are some distance from the highway, so trees are few.
Despite this limitation, the birding is often wonderfully good, especially as far as raptors are concerned. On our most recent crossing of the plains earlier this year I recorded the following birds of prey:
- Wedge-tailed Eagle (two only)
- Nankeen Kestrel (common)
- Black-shouldered Kite (common)
- Black Kite (common)
- Little Eagle (one only)
Other species seen include:
- Australian Raven (common)
- Australian Magpie (common)
- Australian Magpie Lark (common)
Probably the most outstanding sighting was of the Australasian Pipit (see photo below). I’ve never seen so many in one day before. I’m used to seeing the odd one or two on the road or on the roadside verges. I didn’t do a count but there must have been several hundred present over about a 50km stretch of road. All of them were on the road, not the edges, and would only just fly out of the way of approaching vehicles.
Interesting behaviour; I’m guessing that they were feeding on road kill. This area is rich in insect life and fast moving vehicles account for many insect deaths. This area had recently experienced a locust plague with some remnants of that time still around. It must have been a veritable smorgasbord for them.
By way of contrast, on our return trip over the same route two weeks later, I didn’t see any pipits at all.