Arriving in Bordertown meant that we were on the home straight after our three week holiday in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne and many points in between. We stopped in a tree lined park just off the main highway through town. There is a small lake in the park, as well as some very unusual public toilets. They are the green buildings in the background in the photo above. These building were originally built as jail cells during the Victorian gold rush era in the 1850s and still have the original bars, locks and heavy doors.
As we had a cuppa the air was constantly filled with the screeching of Rainbow and Purple-crowned Lorikeets in flocks of up to 20 or 30. Much quieter were the Red-rumped Parrots in the trees and coming down to drink from the lake. The many Noisy Miners added to the general cacophony and the White-plumed Honeyeaters in the nearby trees could hardly be heard. None of this disturbed the family of Pacific Black Ducks sleeping in the grass on the bank of the lake.
After our cuppa we headed off on the last leg of our 3500km journey through the eastern states. We had covered a lot of territory and I’d seen some wonderful birds.
On the last day of our holidays in January we travelled from Gisborne just north of Melbourne to home in Murray Bridge. It was a long day of driving and I had few opportunities for birding along the way. we left our friends’ place a little later than I had hoped so we didn’t stop for morning tea. We pushed through to Ararat for lunch.
In Ararat we found a reasonable spot in the Alexandra Gardens. Here I was able to do a few minutes of birding during and after our picnic lunch. On the lake were the usual types of birds one expects in lakes in parks and gardens: Eurasian Coots, Dusky Moorhens, Pacific Black Ducks and Silver Gulls.
While we were eating a flock of about 40 Long-billed Corellas came noisily wheeling overhead and settled in the tree above us. In the distance I saw a smaller flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos winging their way slowly across town. A Laughing Kookaburra called somewhere near and Masked Lapwings could be heard calling on the adjacent sports grounds.
In the shrubbery near us several Common Blackbirds gave their warning call as I came down the path, New Holland Honeyeaters were busy feeding in the well maintained Australian native plant section of the gardens and several Striated Pardalotes called from the canopy of the trees overhead.
On our visit to Mallacoota in far eastern Victoria in January we went for an after dinner walk along the foreshore and estuary of the river. It was a calm, warm evening and we had a pleasant time exploring this lovely spot for the first time. We decided that this is one place we needed to revisit – and stay four or five days at the very least.
In the quiet estuary we saw many Black Swans, Australian Pelicans, a few Pied Oystercatchers and three Royal Spoonbills.
While on our walk we saw several Great cormorants as well as some Little Pied Cormorants. Two Whistling Kites patrolled the shallows in the company of a lone White-bellied Sea Eagle. I’ve not seen too many sea eagles in all of my birding, so this was something special. I was surprised though that there were not many ducks in the estuary. In fact I only recorded a few Australian Wood Ducks. Perhaps the kites and eagle had scared them off.
The inlet is an ideal haven for fishermen, and this is iluustrated by the large number of boats present in the water and on trailers in the caravan park. There are also boats offering cruises on the river, like the one shown below.
My wife and I join a friend on a morning walk every weekday. On our way home we pass a small dam about half a kilometre from our home. This dam was constructed on a vacant block of land by our local council several years ago. It stores storm water from the nearby streets. Some areas near here have a flood mitigation problem only discovered about five years ago during an extremely heavy downpour one afternoon. The council workers pump water from this dam to use in watering street trees and to dampen road works where necessary.
I’ve kept an eye on this small reservoir ever since it first contained water. Generally all I see is a few Pacific Black Ducks, Straw-necked Ibis and a collection a Masked Lapwings (which have been seen breeding there). Welcome Swallows are also regular visitors, and I am sure the local population of White-winged Choughs use the wet mud on the edge of the water to construction their mud nests. One one occasion I also saw several Black-tailed Native-hens.
A few mornings ago I was surprised to see several Black Swans gracing the water. This species is not all that common around here, though I have seen several recently at the nearby Rocky Gully Wetlands, about three kilometres to the east.
One day I will get around to making a list of all the species I’ve seen in this dam.
And then I will need to find a way of encouraging the swans to fly over our land so I can count them on my garden list.
Tolderol Game Reserve is something of a mecca for South Australian birders and often attracts interstate birders as well. I must admit that although it is only about an hour’s drive from Murray Bridge I have only been there a handful of occasions, and then only in the last few years.
Being a game reserve it has been set aside for shooters. The game shooting season in this state is restricted to only a few days annually, and on some years shooting is closed all year. In recent years this has been as a result of the extended drought we are experiencing.
Tolderol Game Reserve consists of a series of shallow ponds and connecting channels. Until recently there was usually water in the ponds at all times. At present there is very little water, even in the channels.
A wide variety of water birds can usually be found here: ducks, spoonbills, egrets, herons, ibis, swans, geese, grebes, darters, pelicans, dotterels, plovers, lapwings, crakes, rails, stilts and avocets.
Other species recorded include hawks, harriers, eagles, kites, terns, gulls, sandpipers, stints and other small wading birds.
The game reserve is next to the northern shore of Lake Alexandrina. On my last visit I didn’t take any photos of the reserve; without water and birds it was most uninteresting so I took the photo below of the lake. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling basin drains into this lake which in turn flows into the Coorong and the Southern Ocean.