We’ve visited Edithburgh on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia a number of times over the years. We used to go regularly when my brother-in-law lived there. On our recent visit we were pleased to revisit some of our favourite spots. One of these was the Edithburgh Nature Reserve, just across the road where we used to stay just two minutes’ walk from the main street.
This large park near the main shopping street of this coastal town is a wonderful asset to the community and is maintained by local people, though on this visit we noticed that there has been some recent neglect. It is in need of some tidying up and the list of plant species at the entrance has been badly vandalised since our last visit.
On the last day of our recent short holiday in the region we packed up and then spent about an hour in this park. The showers of the previous two days had gone, the sun was shining but the southerly wind was still bitterly cold. I’ve spent some hours birding in this park over the years, usually with some interesting species. I didn’t have high hopes on this occasion, being the start of winter and quite cold.
The Grey Shrike-thrush shown above caused some puzzlement at first. I heard it off in the distance and tracked it down. It’s call was distinctly different from the birds I’m familiar with at home. The bird took pity on me and responded to my imitations and came quite close, posing several times for a photo.
Over the next hour I steadily added to a small list of species seen in or near the park. Welcome Swallows swooped low over head and New Holland Honeyeaters flitted from bush to tree and back again, never sitting still enough for photos. Silvereyes flew overhead and I heard several Weebills calling nearby. Several Australian Magpies searched on the ground for a snack while a small flock of Galahs flew quickly overhead. A group of Crested Pigeons rested on the power lines while the Rock Doves settled on the roof of an old church over the road.
Red Wattlebirds gave their harsh calls and chased away the lone Singing Honeyeater trying to feed on the nectar of flowering trees. A Nankeen Kestrel glided overhead, causing alarm calls from the smaller bush birds. I heard a Common Blackbird give its startled alarm call from a nearby garden and Magpie Larks checked out the roadside puddles left by rain showers.
It’s not a big list, but it was an enjoyable hour of birding enhanced by getting several good flower shots. Oh, I nearly forgot the Willie Wagtail which refused to pose facing me.
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
Last week I attended the 2010 Adelaide Writers’ Week. This popular event is an important feature of the Festival of Arts held here every two years. Writers and readers come from all over Australia and attendees are treated to a large contingent of guest speakers, some Australian but many from overseas, with a sprinkling of local talent. Writers for children are conspicuous by their absence.
This event is spread over six days and is held in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens in the beautiful park-lands of Adelaide, just an easy five minute stroll from the CBD. All sessions are free – except for several evening sessions in the Town Hall. Panel discussions, book launches and meet-the-author sessions are run concurrently in two large marquees set up on the lawn, while a third is the book tent where you can buy the books of guest speakers and get them signed. There is also a catering tent for food and drinks.
While attending three days of this year’s Writers’ Week I was able to position myself during most sessions where I was also able to see out of the tents and observe the passing bird life. Being set in the gardens, and very close to the River Torrens, I was able to get a nice little list of bird seen. Below is an annotated list.
Galah: small groups seen flying over head along the river.
Rainbow Lorikeets: fast flying flocks seen and heard over head and feeding in nearby trees.
Noisy Miner: several heard calling from nearby trees. Interestingly I only saw one bird.
Australian Pelican: two seen gliding low over the river where they presumably landed (the trees obscured my view).
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos: several small flocks of 4-8 flew noisily overhead.
Australian Magpie: two heard carolling in nearby trees and several feeding on nearby lawns.
Silver Gulls: one or two seen often flying over head or along the river.
Australian Wood Duck: flock of about a dozen feeding on the grass within a few metres of the tent, quite unperturbed by the large numbers of people.
Black Swan: One seen sitting on the grass near where I parked the car next to the river (I was lucky enough to get a park each day very close to the venue).
Welcome Swallows: About 5 seen flying over the river.
Crested Pigeon: one seen feeding on the grass near the tents.
Pacific Black Ducks: Two flew between the tents at just over head height, narrowly missing people as they mingled near the Book Tent.
Little Pied Cormorant: one seen flying over the river.
Some years ago we set up a birdbath on our patio area. It gave us much pleasure to see birds coming to drink and bathe. More recently we moved it to the other side of the house. Now it is in full view from our sunroom. It is here we often eat our meals, and work at the table with the birdbath in full view.
Over recent years, this location has had four main benefits:
- It is a great time waster investment; watching the birds go about their daily lives just a few metres from where we are sitting is both relaxing and refreshing to the body, mind and spirit.
- It is most entertaining, especially when a bird like a Mallee Ringneck Parrot comes to bathe and the water sprays in all directions.
- It is excellent for photography; with the 12X zoom on my camera, I have taken many close-up shots of the birds visiting. (Update: my new camera has a 20x zoom. Further update: I now have a camera with an 83x zoom.)
- It is educational; our human visitors marvel at our avian visitors and this gives us the opportunity to further enhance our friends’ appreciation of the natural environment.
I’ve actually installed three different baths in close proximity to one another; one on the ground (which the lizards sometimes use too), one at a height of about 60cm and the third at about 1.5m. This gives them choices. The nearby branches and bushes give them a place of refuge if they feel threatened in any way.
A List of Species that have visited our bird baths:
- Mallee Ringneck Parrot
- New Holland Honeyeater
- Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
- Red Wattlebird
- Brown-headed Honeyeater
- Singing Honeyeater
- White-plumed Honeyeater
- House Sparrow
- Common Starling
- Little Raven
- Willie Wagtail
- Spotted Turtledove
- Crested Pigeon
- Spotted Pardalote
- Striated Pardalote
- Diamond Firetail Finch
- Yellow-rumped Thornbill
- Grey Shrike-thrush
- Australian Magpie
- Magpie Lark
- Common Blackbird
- Rufous Whistler (see updates below)
- European Goldfinch (see updates below)
- Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (see updates below)
- Grey Fantail (see updates below)
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (see updates below)
- Galah (see updates below)
- Grey Currawong (see updates below)
- Eastern Rosella (see updates below)
- Sacred Kingfisher (see updates below)
- Dusky Woodswallow (see updates below)
- White-browed Babblers (see updates below)
- White-winged Chough (see updates below)
- White-browed Woodswallow (see updates below)
- Purple-crowned Lorikeet (see updates below)
- Red Fox
- Stumpy-tailed Lizard
- European Rabbit
- Brown Snake
- Blue-tongue Lizard
That’s quite a list!
UPDATE: More recently we have added the following species to the list:
- Rufous Whistler
- European Goldfinch
- Chestnut-rumped Thornbill
UPDATE #2 Two more species to add to the list:
- Stumpy-tail Lizard (also called a Shingleback Lizard)
- Red Fox – yes, that’s right, a fox.
- Brown Snake – passed close to the bird bath on the ground. In January 2016 a metre long Brown Snake actually stopped to have a drink. See photos here.
UPDATE #3 Another species to add to the list: Grey Fantail – it came to the bird bath briefly but left before I could take a photograph (4th May, 2007)
UPDATE #4 In January 2008 we had a single Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike come to drink briefly from the bird bath.
UPDATE #5 In late January 2008 a single Galah came to within a metre of the bird bath but did not drink. A few weeks later I added Grey Currawong to the list.
UPDATE #6 In December 2008 I added European Rabbit to the list.
UPDATE #8 In November 2013 a Sacred Kingfisher perched about a metre from the bird bath but did not drink. In February 2014 a Dusky Woodswallow came to drink during one of our heat waves during a very hot summer.
UPDATE #10 In December 2015, during a heatwave, I added White-browed Woodswallow.
UPDATE #11 In December 2020 I added Purple-crowned Lorikeet.
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Update: this post was last updated on December 2020.