Rocky Gully Wetlands, Murray Bridge
Thursday 23rd March 2006
Today I visited a local wetlands area about one kilometre north west of the CBD of Murray Bridge, South Australia. Rocky Gully Creek drains from the nearby hills into the River Murray at this point. The wetlands area is only a short distance from the river.
When I was still teaching I would often drive pass this lagoon on my way to work and again on my way home to check out what birds were to be seen. Occasionally I would stop and walk around the perimeter for twenty minutes or so. I would also stop in the bird hide for a while.
This morning I spent about 40 minutes in the area. I took my camera with to see what I could photograph. The temperature by late morning had reached about 30 degrees C and the warm breeze from the north was strengthening.
On my way to a meeting the previous evening I thought I had seen some Royal Spoonbills as I drove past. This is a widespread species in this area without being present in large numbers anywhere. Spoonbills are always a delight for me to see as it was a Yellow Billed Spoonbill in outback South Australia many years ago that gave me a life long interest in birds. This time it was the equally delightful Royal Spoonbill present at the lagoon. I managed to get some photos from a distance.
This was the first time I had recorded this species in this location. The bird lists in the bird hide indicate that other observers had also recorded it here too; I just hadn’t seen it when it was present. Both species are widespread throughout the eastern half of Australia as well as large parts of western and northern Australia.
Almost every time I drive past the Rocky Gully Wetlands I see at least 10 Australian Pelicans. Sometimes I estimate there would be about 30 present, usually resting on the artificial island in the middle of the lagoon. There must be a plentiful supply of fish in the lagoon and in the river nearby.
Australian White Ibis
There are hundreds of Ibis resident in the Murray Bridge district. I have observed loose flocks of over 300 flying overhead. Without them the area would have a massive snail problem. It is my observation that the Australian White Ibis is vastly outnumbered by the Straw Necked Ibis in this area. Today however, I saw only the White Ibis. Another relatively common species, the Glossy Ibis, still manages to elude me. I’ve never seen one in the wild.
The other species present included:
White Faced Heron, Great Egret, Little Black Cormorant, Darter, Black Winged Stilt, Grey Teal, Eurasian Coot, Black Fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Silver Gull, Caspian Tern and Whistling Kite.