Sydney Trip June 2011
One of the delights of the last day of our trip home from Sydney earlier this year was a very clear sighting of a Crested Bellbird. It was perched in clear view and bright sunshine within easy camera range. What more could I ask? It proceeded to give its penetrating call at this close quarter. In between calls it took out time to preen its feathers.
All this gave me ample opportunity to get these photos, the first time I’ve been able to get good shots of this species despite many sightings over the years. In reality, when I think about it, I’ve probably heard this species more often than seen it. Its far reaching call ensures that it is recorded in my notebook more frequently than actual sightings.
These photos were taken in the mallee and spinifex habitat in the north western section of Hattah-Kulkyne National Park between Mildura and Ouyen in north western Victoria. The species is widespread throughout mainland Australia except in the eastern ranges, southern Victoria and the tropical north. It is more of a dryland species, preferring dry eucalypt woodlands, mulga, mallee, spinifex and saltbush areas.
The bird shown in these photos appears to be an immature male; the black throat patch is more grey than in the mature male.
A few Saturdays ago I took my elderly mother-in-law on a short drive to Monarto Conservation Park. This park is about 20 minutes by car from our home in Murray Bridge, South Australia. The open range Monarto Zoo is just north of the park. This area is one of our favourite places to see native Australian plants.
The park preserves a large parcel of remnant mallee scrub between the lower reaches of the Murray River to the east, and the Mt Lofty Ranges to the west. The park has several mallee forms of eucalypt (eg Eucalyptus dumosa), native pines (Callitris preissii) and a variety of understory plants like correas, native orchids and a many others.
There is one established walking trail through the north eastern corner of the park starting and ending at the car park. This easy 45 minute walk takes the visitor through a range of plant habitats giving a good overview of the vegetation native to this area. When in flower in winter and spring this is a delightful walk with much to interest keen botanists.
In my experience of many visits to this park over the last three decades the birding can be fickle, largely dependent on what is flowering. Many of our honeyeater species, for example, are highly nomadic, moving quickly to areas of abundant food sources. On this recent visit the birding was rather poor.
The following list is a poor representation of the bird life present in this area:
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike: 5 seen, an unusually high number together
- Grey Currawong: several heard and one seen
- New Holland Honeyeater: often present in large numbers, perhaps only 4 or 5 seen this time.
- Red Wattlebird: one seen and several more heard calling
- Little Raven: heard calling from adjacent farmland
- Welcome Swallow: several seen swooping low over the treetops
- Adelaide Rosella: two disturbed from a tree as we walked along the path
- Australian Magpie: many seen in nearby farmland
- Weebill: a small flock heard nearby
As we were driving home via a different route we had fabulous views of two Wedge-tailed Eagles gliding low over the scrub in front of us. Nice end to a slow birding day.
This article was updated in July 2015.
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