On our holiday in January earlier this year we travelled down along the south coast of New South Wales. On the second day we travelled from Bateman’s Bay to Mallacoota, stopping at a few places along the way. I was keen to find a few good birding spots and also look at potential good places to stay on future trips along that coast. This time we had our daughter with us and so we were on a limited time line. She had to get back home to start work.
One of the places we visited in the early 1980s which I wanted to revisit was the Mimosa Rocks National Park. It’s funny how you sometimes get an idealised concept of a place and want to return there after many years, only to find that it wasn’t like you remembered. That was the case here. Perhaps we went to a different part of the park that first time. The memory can play tricks at times.
Anyway, we found a nice picnic spot for lunch and I was able to do a little birding during and after lunch.
It was quite warm in the picnic ground as we were surrounded by reasonably dense trees and bushes. Only a few steps away one emerged at the beach and a lovely cooling breeze. It’s amazing how much difference a few steps can make.
A few people were swimming or sitting on the beach. Also using the beach were three Pied Oystercatchers, shown in the photo above. It had been some time since my last sighting of this species, so it was a good addition to my list. A few cormorants flew past as I scanned the beach and the water. I recorded both Great and Little Pied Cormorants.
In the picnic ground I watched a small flock of Striated Thornbills busily feeding in the bushes and trees. They wouldn’t come close enough or sit still enough for a photo. I also observed a Little Wattlebird coming into the picnic ground every few minutes, catching an insect, and then head off into the forest nearby, always going in the same direction. It looked very much like it was feeding young in a nest.
On the drive in and again on the way out we wound down the windows to hear the beautiful tinkling calls of the Bell Miners, another good species I don’t get to see or hear very often.
When we were in Sydney last month visiting family for Christmas, one of the things I wanted to do was to take a ferry trip on Sydney Harbour. Last time we were here we didn’t get to go on the harbour. The main objective of the ferry ride was to see the beautiful harbour and the magnificent scenery around it. Birding was secondary.
We took the ferry to Manly where we alighted for a walk to the beach. We also indulged in a delicious icecream before heading home again. I was more intent in getting some good photos of the harbour rather than watching birds. I definitely saw plenty of Silver Gulls. They seem to be plentiful here. I also saw several terns but without my binoculars it was hard to tell the species. Several cormorants were seen at a distance too great to positively ID and I’m sure I missed many others on the journey.
On a visit in 2000 I was walking along the foreshore near Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair and was surprised – and delighted – to observe a Fairy Penguin (Little Penguin) swimming in the shallow water. Later I found out that they are a breeding species in the harbour. No penguins on this trip however.
While birding from one of the ferries that ply these waters daily could be done with some success, my experience on this occasion was disappointing. Of more value, I suspect, would be to visit a series of key spots around the harbour.Ã‚Â A static position may be far more effective rather than a moving platform. Just a thought.
I took this photo several months ago at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. The Darter is an interesting bird, widespread over much of Australia without being common anywhere. It is occasionally found in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is also present in Africa, southern Asia and Papua New Guinea.
Another common name for the Darter is Snake Bird. If one approaches one sitting on a log or branch it will writhe its neck in a snake like manner. Like cormorants, the Darter needs to regularly leave the water and sit on a log, rock, branch or navigation piles in order to dry its wings. The one in the photograph above was sitting on a log on the side of the path, only two metres from me. Being a captive bird it was very used to having people quite close.
The Darter can be found in or along rivers, creeks, lakes, swamps, lagoons, reservoirs and estuaries but rarely in open sea. It can be found in both salt and fresh water. In my home district it is found right along the River Murray and although widespread it is present in only small numbers, usually one or two.
For more information:
- Birds in Backyards – facts about the Darter.
- Australia Zoo – look for the down loadable PDF file on this species.