Christmas greetings to all of my readers.
I hope you have a wonderful time gathering to celebrate with family and friends.
I’m having a very different Christmas this year – but you’ll have to wait until next year to hear all about it.
Keep safe – and happy birding.
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
ON the second day of our journey home from a holiday in Sydney we stopped at the Birdcage Rest Area between Narrandera and Hay in the Riverina region. The sun was valiantly trying to disperse the clouds but the bitterly cold wind continued. We had a mid morning cuppa and snack and tried to enjoy stretching our legs briefly, despite the cold conditions.
The birding in this spot has been quite good other times we have stopped here, but I think that the birds were also discouraged by the cold conditions. The following list of species heard or seen is not long:
Australian Magpie Lark
Australian Wood Duck
We were entertained by several little creatures hopping around the picnic table and near the car park. There had been a recent plague of House Mice in many parts of Australia and that is probably what they were. Interestingly, they were brave – or stupid – enough to come out into plain view in the car park, and while we watched, several were taken and eaten by the local Australian Ravens.
Two weeks ago I spent an enjoyable day speaking about local birds. About 130 Scouts from all over the state were camping locally, and on the Saturday they were allocated into groups of 7 – 10 for a variety of activities at the Swanport Wetlands on the eastern side of the River Murray near Murray Bridge. These included bird watching, making nesting boxes, taking water samples and so on.
I was the leader for the birding groups. Each birding activity took about 20 minutes, so there was a quick turnover of groups. Most of the children attending showed a pleasing interest in the bird life of the area and saw the relevance of making nesting boxes for the parrots and other species present. Nesting hollows are in short supply in the area, so that activity was also well appreciated. The simplicity of the nesting box construction has inspired me to make some for our own patch of scrubland.
While the day was a success, and the activities interesting and relevant, the weather was not. The previous day we’d had gale force winds and pelting rain. On the day of the activities the weather started out fine but deteriorated quickly as we got under way. Persistent drizzle can be annoying but the groups soldiered on; it seemed that the rain and cool conditions were taken in their stride as all part of the adventure.
Because of the conditions and several other factors, the birding on the day was not brilliant, and I was not able to get many photos. Overall I would regard it as a successful day, but I was very pleased to spend the evening in front of a warming fire.
Over the years I have found that there are three basic types of birding while on holiday trips: planned, opportunistic and downright unlucky.
When I plan a holiday I will often factor into our itinerary places where I can stop and do some birding. These stops usually coincide with meal breaks, changes of drivers, or overnight stays. I look for places where I have a good chance of seeing a good variety of birds. Sometimes the birds do not cooperate but often I’m rewarded with good sightings and even good photos.
This is far more exciting. You never know what is going to turn up, sometimes in unexpected ways and places. Chance sightings, rare or uncommon species, birds way out of their normal range or birds doing unusual things. Some of my best photos are totally unplanned, making the most of an opportunity presented unexpectedly.
Missed in action
On our short holiday last week on Yorke Peninsula we were almost at our holiday unit. The sun was setting, we had about 8 kilometres to go when my wife exclaimed, “Three quail on the roadside.”
But of course I didn’t see them! Checking the mirror I quickly did a U-turn and head back down the road. They’d gone into the bushes. Drat!
On reflection, the most likely species was Stubble Quail, a common bird in this cereal growing region of the state. Reluctantly I added this sighting to my trip list but felt just a little cheated.
It has been far too many years since my last visit to Western Australia. In fact, I’m probably some 30 years overdue for a return visit. This is a serious oversight on my part. The country there is beautiful, the people great, he flowers amazing and the birding first class.
Sadly I don’t have nay photos of Western Australian birds to share with you today. (Note to self: scan onto my computer all those slides taken so many years ago.) What I do have to share is a new blog based on WA birds; it’s only a few weeks old and has already set a high standard for sites about our birds.
The site is called Leeuwin Current Birding: a Western Australian Birding Blog.